Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last I've heard from it...

assalamu alaikum,

Alhamdulillah. InshaAllah in about 2 hours, I'll be able to say I made it safely to 1431 AND 2010.

WOW. 2010. No more zero in front of that last number. The people who were born in 1990 are about to be 20 years old! I REMEMBER 1990! How'd that happen?

Seriously? 2009 has not been my best year. Every day that I"m breathing is a good day, alhamdulillah, and another chance. But still, 2009 has stood nearly since the beginning as a year I could not wait to forget.

Positives: I ran a half marathon this year! I moved from pre-k to middle school at my job! ... yeah.

The last year I had that was that bad was 2006 (I know, pessimistic, aren't I?). And you know what? 2007 rocked. Even though it was the year I lost my grandmother, I got so many things I prayed for. It was a bittersweet and memorable year.

So, on to the next! Here we go! Seentcha, 2009! Welcome 2010!

May Allah swt bring blessings, health, happiness, guidance, and PEACE to you, dear reader, and those you love, this year and always.

love,
TwennyTwo

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home

assalamu alaikum,

Eid Sa'eed! Eid Mubarak!

To tell the truth, I didn't do much for Eid. The holiday isn't as fascinating and fun for me this year; probably because I don't have the little kids to pull me into the enthusiasm. I wasn't at home either; my parents left for the weekend, so I came to my sister's house.

Last night I fell asleep on her couch; we'd had visitors earlier so I was wearing my hijab and had a big chador nearby, which I pulled over myself sometime in the night. The temperature on that floor of the house dropped to 65 degrees. (The thermostat was set higher, but that floor never reaches that temperature close to the ground, where I fell asleep.)
So when I awoke, I was cold, cranky, and stiff. My knees screamed in pain when I stretched them out. My feet and toes were icy. I was mad for a good minute.

Then I thought about that.

Y'all, I cannot imagine being homeless at this time of year. If it was 65 where I was sleeping, it was 30 degrees outside. Ya Rahman.

My sister and I just had a conversation about it. She said, "well, they have newspapers. They find a way to get through."

Seriously? SERIOUSLY!? Newspapers? At below freezing? How do you sleep? How do you keep up the will to live?

I don't remember there being many homeless in Puerto Rico, in part because of the nice climate. It can feel chilly at night because the temp drops 10-25 degrees from the daytime highs (so from a high of 90, if it got down to 72 you felt it), but I know there were people who slept on the beach, or on the streets. But for the most part, I never saw people without homes. They always had family, or friends, or just a nice person with a place to sleep. I'm sure the homeless problem exists there as any other place in the world; it wasn't as visible and is never as acute. There, the problem would be obtaining food, but not exposure.

There isn't the same kind of backup here, where people need it. It makes me wonder what is there. And I'd better be careful, because that's the first step to action.



Heh. And another conversation we had made me think about the difference between the concept of home and family as we get older.

Y'all know I spent some time in Puerto Rico right after I graduated college, and it changed my life. I want to get my nursing degree in part so I can go back to the island and know that I'll get a job- the VA always needs nurses, and that's a FEDERAL bureau that won't go broke- and live there. Yes, in Puerto Rico. (Don't get me started on the husband options there. That isn't a part of my plan. Allah is the point for that particular project.)

Lo these many years later, I still have friends from the islands calling me; their families ask about me. And this points to a major difference in families between there and here. Mainly, that as in most parts of the world, in Puerto Rico multigenerational families are a matter of course. I mean, I did have single friends who had their own rooms or apartments, but they were a rarity, and most of them lived in the same city or region as their parents, grandparents, etc.

I remember during Hurricane Jeanne going to Humacao with my then-roomate to visit her mom and grandmother; it was beautiful, wild country, and the whole family gathered to eat from the grill, since the electricity and gas were off. Beautiful.
So I knew when I came back that I definitely like that idea of multigenerational life, and that I don't mind living that way. Add to that, that I found that Islam supports parents and family life, and I could see myself eventually living that way forever.

My parents and sibs don't agree.

My sister made the remark during conversation that, "Our father exists so that we will leave the house. I cannot live in the same house as he does!" And that's true; I remember her saying when she bought her house that she could not live with our father. And then she said that the reason I could was probably because we don't talk much. And that's true as well. If I don't have something to say, then I... don't have anything to say, beyond courtesy. So yes, I guess that works. On the other hand, I know that my parents would prefer me to live on my own (but aren't going to pay for me to do so, which is why I live at home just now).

And I don't want to live on my own ever again. Been there, done that, hated the goody bag. Don't want to live with strangers, either. And I'm lucky in that I don't have to; my parents tolerate my living with them. Sometimes there's not much between toleration and enjoyment, and sometimes there's a gulf of understanding between the two.

I've had men who were wife-searching ask me, 'Would you mind if we lived with my parents? Or if my parents lived with us?' and the whole question blew my mind, because the LAST thing my parents would ever WANT to do is to live with my household, or one of my siblings'. This is clear in my mind. And I welcome the idea that they would do so. The difference in our attitudes is one I accept, but it makes me sad.

What do you think?


peace
twennytwo

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

5 Things I love

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah
bismillah

Who can't take time to think about just five things they love? Well, I got the flu, so now I really WANT to. Priorities...! So, in no order at all...

1. Sunshine.

This year I feel as if I'm almost caught up on my sunshine quota. Just sitting in sunlight makes me happy, and I have always been so. These days the light right after Asr time (late afternoon) flows through the old leaky picture windows and creates this warm happy glaze and I'm happy to sit, chin on knees, atop the down staircase for an hour and let it soothe and revive me. (Vitamin D, ya know.) Even the worst of days can contain a little sun!

2. Good Advice.

I love living near my family again for this. And studying personal finance has really given me mental peace, pieces of which were certainly missing last year. But good things tie together. My women's halaqa leader's full of awesome advice, and I've felt better since starting to follow it. I've been creating my own lunches in the school kitchen (since, why not?), and I'm more tickled by my idea of using cheap baby spinach in my sandwiches instead of lettuce, and using instant coffee to make 'iced coffee' at work, than a slew of other things. My mother's advice on letting the kids' grades fall where they may was also excellent. Also? I take that finance course with like 6 couples, one of whom is a cop, who told me to just pay the ticket (and avoid the court fees). Good solid advice just rocks.

3. Handiwork.

Until recently, my bed was covered by an old quilt my great-grandmother made. This year I've noticed that as a school team, we tend to connect best over things we produce. I wore a certain green skirt to school and was talking about sewing with other teachers all day- we're going to have another sewing party! The engagement of another teacher here meant bringing desserts for her celebration, and the discussion of buy vs bake and how to make filled the halls with good cheer. Even the male gym teacher made homestyle chutney to go inside an Eid exchange gift bag. We lose a lot of the human touch of craft and care in these professional and service jobs, but for me, crafts and hand work will always be a touchstone.

4. Prepping the night before

Ah, this is not a lifehack. No, no it's not. It's one of the keys to my happiness. I didn't realize until I started doing it again that being ready for the next day before bed is just awesome. It's not just 'ooh, I'm ready, I get 5 more minutes in bed'- though that's plenty nice!- but that I spend 10 minutes ironing and talking to my father. Or cooking and laughing with my mother. I'm not worried about breakfast because it's all ready to go. My picture-day outfit really does look okay. It takes a million sad or stressed moments out of my day, being ready at night. Plus I'm a night owl. Things don't get started for me until sunset. Planning and doing things in the night is another way for me to feel like I'm living my life in the when that I prefer.

5. Henna

I still recall (and have a photo of it!) getting henna for the first time as a new Muslim. I love everything about it: the mixing and sifting and making just the right formula, the flexibility in use from head to toe, how the designs and use are so traditional and even a sunnah. But also that to beautify with henna takes patience and time, even as you can share it with so many. My secret is that I love that henna is a way for me to take Brown back, a beautiful, varied, and natural color that is so often ignored or treated as a non-color. (Don't believe me? What does 'colored' eyes mean to you?) So each time I mix henna personally I make it my mission to get that deep dark near ebony color and spicy, light aroma, like tea, that keep the henna subtly on the wearer's mind.


What 5 things do you love?
UmmLayth tagged me, and I took my sweet time about it, but this was a fun moment in my morning. I tag: Koonj baji, Umm Ibrahim, Yangd, Jo, Nzingha, LuckyFatima, and anyone else who wants it. Not sure if anyone will do it but it was fun doing it, so enjoy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Halal, Organic, Pasture-fed TURKEY for Eid

Assalamu Alaikum,

Long time no see, I know. Believe it or not, I posted several times in September... and took them down. Who needs to show their not-so-hot side all the time? I do it enough here.

I did want to pass on a link, in time for the Eid holidays: Halal Zabiha Organic Turkey.

I know I've got plenty of friends who only eat zabiha, or are trying to increase their animal-friendly eating; this combines both. I happen to know the family that runs Green Zabiha, so I know they're trustworthy. And, well, since I actually can spend the cash (not cheap but in line with what zabiha meat is out here in the Midwest), I want to give my whole family an Eid gift of wholesome food. They're not Muslim but they can still benefit.


Is anyone else geeked out and excited over the fact that Eid falls near Thanksgiving this year? Dude! I'm so happy to have a day off with my mother and sister again. It'll be a while before the day falls concurrently with a gregorian holiday again.

I'll be back. Got a post brewing on marriage advice, oh boy, just what we all want to hear.

peace


So yeah, get over to Green Zabiha if you want that turkey.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Then

Assalamu Alaikum

It's hard to imagine having a non-disastrous but still hellish day that'd be tougher than today.

Eid Mubarak, btw.

I did it to myself, though.

Today was the day that caused me to look at all my failures and just...


just...

Not even face them. More like look at them, examine the tiny crazes and flaws of the useless facades I use in my life, and then see the giant gaps where I'm failing miserably anyway.

I'm not even crying.

I just read the email of a beloved friend who had a mastectomy. She sent the email more than 10 days ago. I felt terrible on so many levels reading that email. That was the end of a day in which I misplaced my gradebook (midterms due at midnight tonight), ate dinner seated directly across from members of the Catty Crew who cause me to have to make some serious dhikr by being in the same room (dealing with MY issues of jealousy and anger, not their insularity or cattiness, mind you) took a group of middle school boys on a field trip in the middle of some rowdy, boisterous schools, and got pulled over on the way back from said field trip for a bogus reason- and got ticketed. With 3 of my students in my car. That was after I arrived to work late. On field trip day.

So. I'm laying this one at the feet of my Lord. Because otherwise I call do-overs. On, like, this month. Seriously.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramadhan 1430/2009

Alhamdulillah! We made it!

A generous, blessed Ramadhan to you and yours, amin!

Make dua'a for me; make requests of me. You know I'll be praying for you.

peace

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh man

assalamu alaikum

I have a meeting at 10 for the first time in a month and a half.

I have a curriculum to write and a 40 minute commute in that time.

Hold me.


Good news is, it's the last time I'll be looking at curriculum for that grade, iA. Then I'm off to the big bad world of the older students. And, hey, at least I have a job. Alhamdulillah alhamdulillah alhamdulillah.


... make dua'a for me, please.

peace
TwennyTwo

Monday, August 03, 2009

I actually don't LIKE being angry and frustrated.

assalamu alaikum,

You know, the past two weeks have been hellish. InshaAllah this is the worst I have to experience in learning something.

It hasn't been the best year for learning, but I can point to microbio and anatomy and definitively say I'm not stupid. But the education classes I attempted/took, and now this arabic intensive, are not working out.

I'm frustrated. I cry daily over a single class for so many reasons. I feel that somewhere maybe I'm doing something wrong (what am I doing wrong?!) or that I'm not spending enough time studying (because studying to 3 AM isn't enough TIME) and then I have to restrain myself from coming out of my mouth on my teacher and my classmates and

and I give.

I give.

There are 3 more days of this course and then I'm done stressing about it. The reaction from the teacher and some of the administrators and even some of my classmates has made me think they have this opinion that I just want to be frustrated, that I don't want to learn.

Nothing could be as far from the truth. This is my fourth language. This is a language close to my spirit and my heart. I still love memorizing. (I'm finally really working on ayat al kursi, and it's working- especially when I have people to feed it to me and explain what it means. Easier to pick up that way.)

So while I'm done with (edited to redact institution name) mentally at this point, I'm not giving up on Arabic.

I feel remorse for having my friends see me get so low over this. I'm just sick and tired of being angry and frustrated. Time to be happy now. I'm done.

TwennyTwo

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beneficent doesn't mean unbiased; Bias doesn't mean bigot

Assalamu Alaikum,

Funny thing about words. Words can do so much. As kids my siblings and I learned that old chant early: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.'
Untrue, untrue, my now-self calls back to my childhood. I've forgotten most of the scrapes, cuts, bruises I've had, but I clearly remember words and conversations from when I was three years old. And now the potential energy of words is coming to the face of the consciousness of my community and our country.

So the other night, I stayed up until about 4 AM discussing just such an instance of hurtful words. And during the conversation, my words were twisted, biased generalizations were drawn based on another's perception of who I am, and of course I heard my entire race- and then all of the males in my race- maligned and denigrated. I was told that my viewpoint was hurtful, that I insinuated that another person was racist, that I assumed that anyone against me must be racist- but that another's viewpoint was righteous and of course based in reality.

You could say I had a normal day that lasted into the wee hours, really.

I want to get back to that conversation in a moment. By now, since President Obama so graciously used his valuable time and remarked upon it not once but twice, nearly everyone has heard about the incident of Professor Henry Louis Gates' arrest by Seargeant James Crowley. It has been the topic of direct and indirect discussion around the country for nearly a week, now.

I normally don't watch TV at all, but was perusing various reactions and saw this (yes, I know, CNN. Better for domestic racial commentary than the BBC and other international news.)

Tim Wise makes an excellent point:



Is it possible that Sgt. Crowley, though he is not by all appearances a bigot in any sense of the word, may have perceived Prof Gates’ behavior as more belligerent than he would have, had this been a white person?...

...White folks whether they’re cops or just average citizens, will oftentimes view the behavior of black people as more negative, more dangerous, more aggressive even more criminal than they would the very same behavior engaged in by a white person. And they don’t do that because they’re bigots or racist or bad people, and they do that because of what are called implicit biases, they don’t make us bad, but they happen. ~ Tim Wise, author of ‘White Like Me’


I think for the most part Mr. Wise hit the target. What I did not hear him say, is that Black folk have biases, too. Everyone has biases.

I have to say that I knew of Professor Gates before the incident, and in my mind he was (and is, really), one of those 'Famous Black Americans'. Ar-um... how do I explain that? When I was a child, my parents and community really worked to instill a sense of foundation that was based on examples of education, determination, and pride from among Black America. I grew up in the '80s and then the '90s, so I really caught the tail end of being raised 'Black and Proud' in the arms of the survivors and the heroes and the children of the 1950's-60's civil rights movement. I have grown into an adult who knows how very very crucial that foundation was.

So I knew about Dr. Gates who was a great social scientist and researcher, and I heard about the news that he taught at Harvard (though to tell the truth, Dr. Cornell West is more famous in my perception), and I was delighted when I returned to DC from PR (so this would've been 2005 or 2006) to catch the first installment of African American Lives on PBS. I knew that man, and I loved that series. (The second series was just as good. Yes, he had Soledad O'Brien beat before she got started, in my opinion.) So yes, I was astounded to hear about the arrest... and at the same time, yes, part of me was about the least surprised person on earth. You see, I knew that Professor Gates is smart and acccomplished; but I knew he is Black as well.
Reference Tim Wise's quote above.

I know all about inherent biases. Believe me, knowing about inherent bias was a theme wherever grownups were from the time I was still young enough to keep my hand grasped in my mother's skirts (she didn't wear pants until I was twelve), still young enough to peek at my father's spades hand from his lap, not old enough to ask questions and be told to stay out of grown folks' bidness. Inherent bias didn't take that term, though. The theme instead was, 'We have to do twice as much to get half the recognition', or 'Got to walk on water; and still these folks will wonder why you don't make yourself a boat'.

As we grew older my mother would go on and on about the importance of being well-groomed and neat. "You're already taller and more noticeable"- meaning because of our chocolate skin- "so you need to look nicer and be more courteous than most". Heh, but she refused to (and probably couldn't afford to, now that I think on it) buy the Donna Karan, the Coach, the Guess, the Jordans to make us fit in- a clean appearance was what counted... sigh. That was my childhood. Then I became an adult, sat with the grown folks, and listened to my aunts and my grandfather trade stories of how "these white folks" would look for any way to get 'us' out of our own success stories. How paper trails are essential, how evidence is crucial; how the least offence can and will be magnified against you. 'Don't forget, you're smart, you're beautiful, and you're still Black', ran the advice of my elders. And then I had a couple of jobs where I found out the truths behind the family lore for myself.

That's not a story for today. Point is, the guests in the video are educating the uninitiated in something that is not a small fact of minority life (and certainly my life) in this country and heck, in this world. Most people act upon their biases; and if you're on the negative/minority/less empowered side of a bias you will see, eventually, those actions based on bias affect you negatively. You can work hard and avoid most of the craziness, but you will see those biases come out against you. Like it or not. The End.

Because I know all about inherent biases, and because of the frequency of their being acted out in the actions and perceptions of those around me, I become less outraged when I recognize them, and less invested in actively correcting the subtle biases. As my Aunt C would say: "I don't have the time." I see this kind of mess all the time, and it's tiring enough just to ignore the subtle bovine scatulation in my way, and stay about my own business. You train the children in your village accordingly, if you have the foundation I do, suck it up and do better than your best, and leave the rest to God.

Until you need to have the conversations that last all night, as I did the other night.
I overheard a friend of mine, a prospective taxi driver, say into his cell phone, "yeah, and I might have to leave Black people", in the context of his conversation, as if to say he wouldn't be picking up Black people. He didn't qualify the statement, didn't say scary looking Black people or thugs, or black and white crazies. He said what he said.

To be frank, I was stung. I was at the house of a very dear friend, and to hear him say that... took me out of my context, where I was comfortable, and into one where I was in a room with someone with those negative inherent biases who had no problem with putting them into play even though I was in his line of sight. Also, the man in question is a brown-skinned minority himself. So yeah, to have him say that pretty much in my face, if not to me, hurt. It was a very 'what the heck?' moment.

We were lucky to have just gone through Maidan's workshop on 'The Art of Prophetic Communication', so those things were fresh in our minds... yes, we used the concepts, especially those of considering the audience and how THEY hear our words.

What followed was an excellent example of what the entire country is doing and thinking and how we're reacting. Because what I said, when he was off the phone, was that for him to not pick up a Black person for the fact that they're Black, was racist. I immediately clarified- not that I thought HE was racist as a person, but that he needed to face the fact that what he said was racist, and that to take that particular action with no other basis, was wrong.

Ayyayyay. He was very hurt that I had called him racist. And he could never be a racist because people have been racist toward him. And he has Black friends! And then I had to say, no, you obviously didn't hear me say that I DON'T think you're racist. And then it became a discussion of words and how he wasn't into vocabulary. So he didn't see anything wrong with saying what he said the way he said it. And I had to sit down and explain it something like this:

Look, I told (my amiga) earlier, that I don't think I could be in the position of a cab driver for exactly that reason; that I KNOW I would have to judge people on their appearance and possibly not give them a ride again based on their appearance. I don't know that I could do that.

But I do know that I have been Black for 28 years now. And I can tell you how it feels to hear you won't pick up a black person. If it weren't for the fact that I wear hijab, I'd STILL never get a cab- I'm bigger and darker than most cab drivers like. And as the lone black person in the room, I have to say that I know that I'm more likely to be the victim of a crime committed by another black person than anyone else here. So yes, I even understand using race as one factor when you look at someone and ask yourself if they're a threat to your safety. I would never ever say that you should do anything against your own safety. You must look out for your safety first and always, and I recognize that.
I also recognize that we must all do that, and we use stereotypes to do so. That's not my problem here.

My issue comes when you don't realize that what you are doing involves racism, and that it's a racist act. One lie does not a liar make; but it's still problematic when a person cannot look at an untruth they've told and know that they told a lie.

AND, when you say for example, that "It's black people's fault that I have to think like that, they've put themselves in that position", first, you're generalizing, and second, you've got your facts incorrect. For you to say that your perception of black people and your acting upon it is the fault of millions of people who don't even know you exist, is racist. Having black friends, black babies, what have you doesn't make what you said any less racist. And when you say it, you're sitting here looking at my skin!

You said, 'It's Black people's fault,' you said, 'Black people put themselves in that position.' But you tell me that it's not the case for me. That's offensive, because my skin is still Black, and I am a part of that group about whom you speak. My skin color didn't change in the last five seconds. If you said 'Black dudes', then okay, great, you exclude me from your racism, but you included my brother and my father. And if you would exclude us, then I'd ask you to stop generalizing based on your stereotypes. And don't delude yourself that what you're doing isn't racist. You have to care about your safety, you have to look out for number one first. But don't tell yourself that just because you're being safe, or even if it is necessary, that you're not doing something that is racist. It is.

You don't have to listen to me, and you don't have to care what I think of you. Because beyond this moment, I don't care- you may very well never see me again, ever. But, I would ask you to take this conversation as a tool and USE your words better. You never know when what we're saying can help you. Because, yeah, I don't think you're a racist person. I also don't want you to believe that because you mean well or don't mean ill, that how you say things doesn't count. It does. And it will. And anything good I have said isn't from me. And if you have taken anything bad from what I have said, it is from me, please accept my sincerest apologies.


I was exhausted at the end of that conversation, but it was so very necessary.

If life were fair, after that very exhausting conversation, I'd've had a Racism-free Day card or something, but alas. I think it was on Racism 101 on the Resist Racism blog that someone said that people of color literally experience racism daily, and that we let 95% of what happens, we let it go.

So then the next day, I had to explain to one of my fellow students in the Fawa.kih program (we had just completed mid-term evaluations of the program) why it is that I was angry, and why it was that it seemed inherently unfair that I should have to go see the teacher after class, and take advantage of the study time, instead of the other way around. Why it was that a LOT of the time, I just 'shut down' and shut up instead of voicing my opinion. It's because I already know that I am bigger than most; that I'm perceived as louder than most (even when I'm not; I do have a trained voice, won't lie), that I'm darker than most. In the USA, in any given situation, someone is more likely than not to already have some perception of me as negative; as a threat, or a danger, or aggressive, or unintelligent. That last hurts me most because I'm here to learn. And I am not a stupid woman. To be dismissed based on the craziness someone has learned to carry in their heads is insane, and if you see me as vocal, understand that I automatically don't say half of what I could and would and ought.

That's my life.

This is a really long post. It's been a while coming, and I may have something to say later. Comments are open and I welcome your thoughts.

peace
TwennyTwo

Friday, July 24, 2009

And then life got bizz-ayy

assalamu alaikum,

Okay, so the Fawak.ih Intensive has been making life super busy. I'm staying at the home of my most gracious friend, and that has really made it easy. I realized- between Nene's wedding, ISNA/Independence Day in DC, and now this, I haven't been home more than 3 days at a time this summer since the last week in June. I'm cherishing it, too. I think the reason I put up with being a teacher in part is the long summers, my best season, in which to spend my time as I please.

So this summer for one month I've chosen to spend my time learning Arabic in the intensive program. I'm beginning to think that programs like this may not be for me, though. Or, I have to reconfigure how I do them. Since I'm staying with my amiga, who lives in the city but nearly an hour away, we miss a lot just in transportation time. Nearly 2 hours each day goes to riding back and forth on the highway- and of course, it's construction season, so that can suddenly be longer in a flash. If I really wanted to study, I'd see about getting a room in the hotel in front of the institute. However, last year I stayed there and got VERY ill- and a lot of the women staying there are getting sick this time- so I'll take a few missed days/hours and inshaAllah stay healthy.

I love the course. I love languages (BAM and The Muslimah can attest), and though learning this one isn't a cakewalk, it's still a worthwhile pursuit. Of course, I made the intention to learn fisabilillah before I went to the program. Which is good, because this is coming with some tests!

First thing is jobs. Alhamdulillah, I still have a job after what I wouldn't call an excellent year, last year. But. I left the school year extremely frustrated with the school, administration, the way things were left previously... etc. In other words, I was ready for a break. I didn't actually stop working until the last week of June, well after the other teachers left, because I was dealing with a mess that the teachers previously had left, but one that I hadn't taken the time to organize.

Annnnnd... so of course I get calls this week and it stresses me out. I'm glad to be moving to a new position (older kids, in an area where I have more experience, inshaAllah) in the school, and I know that even having a job is a blessing right about now. But OMG. My blood pressure and heart rate are jacked just thinking about it. I need a different job, yo. This is my last year.

Then? Of course, it just so happens that my celebrity crush is one of the lecturers at the Fawa.kih program. I don't know how much I need to say about that. But um, yeah. Glad my skin isn't pale, because I surely was flushed and flustered half the time. That was a nice feeling, though...ah, I don't know how to explain it.

My friend and I came up with a new joke, though: Como es que se baje la vista de un hombre bajo? Ask me in the comments if you don't speak Spanish/can't find a translator/don't get the joke.

And? I've sewed a couple of pairs of pants since I've been here, including one for my amiga, which came out really well. It really does give you a boost when you feel as if you are well dressed, and it's fun to be able to say to the other ladies, yes, I sewed them myself, and it's easy, and I'd be happy to show you! Such a feeling of accomplishment, mashaAllah.

So, that's the update. I'm sure there was something else I wanted to talk about, but I need to go study for an exam... Yay, Arabic!

peace
TwennyTwo

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Twenny Ate

assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I remember on D's last b-day I called and was teasing unmercifully about reaching 28. Teasing based on a faulty premise that I don't subscribe to; mainly that getting older is a bad thing. I have seen enough death and personal tragedy to understand that birthdays are blessings, every single one. They don't have the guarantee that death and entropy do.

Ah, and now it's my turn to reflect on 27.

The other day I was in Rochester, NY for my friend Nene's wedding, which was beautiful, and a lot of fun. I think because I was in a crowd of Black and Latino folk (she's black, he's portareecan) I thought back to my college days. I wouldn't take nothing for my journey, but I still feel the love of the people and culture I met during those days.

My work this year wore me down, but I learned a lot of lessons, mainly that I need to do what I want to do when I want it, based on my own values. You'd think that a 27 year old woman would get that, but ah, the lesson needs drilling. Apparently. I love the children, am grateful to be working with little muslims, but now I know that this is my hatching ground, and that I'm due to fly from it sooner rather than later.

I learned that my body? Is mashaAllah amazing. I finished a half-marathon. I finished slowly. But I finished. I also learned that diabetes is stalking me regardless of all that training... and I'm taking care of myself more. I learned that food isn't my best friend, since I already knew it wasn't my enemy.

I learned that I'm a pig for some love. Family, students, friends- I need affection in doses that others would find smothering. I'm learning to be okay with that.

I remembered skills and joys I had forgotten. I think I'm going to get sick of my gauchos after a while, but the satisfaction of making them with my own hands was wonderful. I can still make killer salted oatmeal cookies, even if I have to eat one and give the rest away. And nothing will ever compare to a long drive in the country and woods at the end of a warm day.

I finally realised that even though I am a child of an age of entitlement, I can make my own dreams come true best when I am serving others. I am happy when I learn that a small advice I lent helped another sister find happiness and some self-reflection. I need to lean on other shoulders. I need to be needed.

Procrastination might be natural, but Allah swt has given us all tools to work against the worst of our natures- and with the best of it. Still up to me to grasp the tools and get to work, though. And now I know that organization isn't just a luxury, but for me it's something worth the battles with myself. I realised that to love the examples in my deen and to increase my iman and to love the nabi I follow is not shameful, but it's okay.

Companionship, true companionship, is something I pray for; thank God for my friends, the true-blue homies, the ones who are in the mud and the glory with me.

Twenty-seven is a wrap. Alhamdulillah, let the games of twenny eight begin.

fimanillah
Twenny Two

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I know dua'a is always answered.

Assalamu Alaikum,

Well, so ISNA was a blast. I loved being back in my old stomping grounds in DC. I didn't stay at the convention hotels (which was a mistake in that I wasn't immersed in the ISNA atmosphere, but which was also great because I wasn't immersed in the ISNA atmosphere and was in my DC 'home' instead), and I missed like half of the lectures and everything. The few lectures I did get into, though, hit me at the right moment with the right message. The psychologist who was a main speaker at the MSA session, 'Fighting Depression with the Light of God'. Imam Khalid Latif (I'm sure I've misspelled that, forgive me), who spoke on singlehood and the questions of a single believer and how we live that life with the words that were so right-on that I started to cry. Tears just ran down my face.

Alhamdulillah. It was the answer to a prayer.

I came very close to doing some things that I really WANTED to do, even though I knew they were things I oughtn't do. And so, because I knew that I was open and vulnerable, that I was tempted to that 'just do it' attitude, I prayed. Y'all, I prayed long and hard. I made sincere dua'a with faith that it would be answered. And above all was the fervent desire to be protected from doing what Allah does not will for me, and that my dua'a be heard and clearly answered.

Every time I go to ISNA or a similar event, I'm reminded of both my similarities and my differences. I cover, but my dress isn't modern fashionista or Arab or Desi in origin. I'm a young convert, but this is my tenth year as a Muslim (can I get an alhamdulillah?)/. I speak Spanish... but not quite so good at the Arabic, and my Urdu is practically nonexistent.

But I know. I believe. I Believe. I have been given the gift and the blessing of faith. I have been able to pray my way to obedience and to independence. Dua'a is truly my weapon, and it has ALWAYS been answered. It is the most precious blessing I have, to see the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala worked in my life through my family and friends and even just occurrences that might look, from the outside, like random. I know.


peace
TwennyTwo

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What we already know, but can't say.

Yes. This is exactly it.

My starting line is much different. My struggle is just a bit deeper. My path has been uphill.

No, it's not too much. But it's there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

'I want to play by my ownself'

Assalamu Alaikum,

Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Subahallah wa bihamdihi, I enjoy and appreciate my job.

But the last couple weeks got a little hairy, let me tell you. And although the children can be (rarely) trying, no, it is most always an adult who is really working my nerves. I'm looking at you, morning-assistant-who-needs-instruction-as-much-as-any-student.

So, today was bliss. I got to work all by my lonesome.

If you're looking from the outside, it doesn't look like I did much. But for me it was INTEGRAL. My boss and several others have been making comments behind my back about my Achilles' heel: organization. Nevermind that they're pretty happy about how their children are treated and how they learn; nor that they won't bring themselves to say what they say behind my back to my face.

I'm far from the most organized person in the school.

I'm not denying that; I'm working on it. What's annoying is that a) I INHERITED a mess from the several teachers who worked before I did, since the last teacher was tossed out/ left precipitously (depending on who's telling the story) less than a month before I was hired. And she wasn't allowed back into the school to get her things. But that's not my story to tell. The annoying part about that is that I came into a mess and I'm good at tolerating mess and bad at organizing.
b) I TOLD my boss before he hired me that organization was my Achilles' heel. Famous last words.

So instead of listening to whining about the state of my room, today I got to spend time by myself, in my room, going through the files in the room, finding out what exactly is in there, throwing out old stuff. It felt good, to just DO what I needed to do without hearing the peanut gallery, you know? It reminded me of one of my favorite students, who loved to explain to me, "I just want to play by my ownself, Miss Two." Very matter of fact.

So that was good.

But then. Ah, then.

After chilling at the house of my wali, (good news), then praying maghrib-sunnah salah at the masjid (even better news there, which will also wait), I came home to the house, glad to see my parents after they took a trip south to see my aunts and grandfather.

Annnnnnd here is where I ask for dua'a, because JW is relapsing. He's losing it again. I won't go into details, but 2 minutes after I entered the house and my parents clued me in to what was going on, the phone rang...

...and it was the police.

Long story short, alhamdulillah JW is okay and not in custody or anything like that, but only because my parents kept him out. He's refusing to take his medicine. And I... I'm not despairing... but... to have the realization over and over again that this incredibly smart, bright, capable man, my little brother, is not right... hurts. It's bewhildering. Something you never in your wildest imagination think is possible, happens, and, yeah, it throws me for a loop.

... inshaAllah he'll be okay. He's talking about taking a gamble, moving to a city on the other side of the country, maxing out his credit cards, and just living there.

What do you say to that? It'd be fine, except that he isn't right in the head. This is not normal twenny-something stuff, this is insanity. I do not want JW to end up anything but happy, clean, healthy...


I dunno.

I need to go play by my ownself. I've already asked so many people to pray, to sincerely put this before Allah swt, and that was before tonight. I'm doing it still, because, wow. I thought work was pushing me... this is so much bigger. Only God knows what will happen, and only God can fix things ultimately.


I'm off to bed.

masalaama

Twenny

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Un poco perdida

Assalamu Alaikum,

I dunno, my soul feels hispanoparlante, so forgive me if you don't read Spanish.

Me encuentro un poco perdida. No, y más que un poco.

Pero, ¿porqué?

Primero, es que siento traicionada. No solamente por el hecho del casamiento del niño, sino porque, otra vez me encuentro aquí, al medio año, sin casarme y sin prospetos en el área de casamiento. Por más que trato de negarlo, de ignorarlo, eso duele, mano. Duele mucho.

Faltan 30 días para mi vigesimo-octavo cumpleaños.

Tambien me siento apresionada de una manera súbtil, lo que me trae hasta la locura. Cuando yo llegue a mi lugar de empleo, lo dije al jefe bien claro: no soy una mujer sumamente organizada. Limpia, sí; organizada, no. Pero por entonces se le ha occurido no menos que dos veces a la mes condenarme por no ser organizada.

Hasta que, ahora no es que no soy organizada sino que me encuentro evitando, escaseando organizar. Primero porque, no sé cómo hacerlo. Y segundo, una llega a resentir mucho los característicos mas comentados, siento que me han dado hasta que sangra sin decir nada y estoy llegando al grito.

Además, me encantan los lugares organizados. No hay nadie que dé cursos de organizacion en universidad, pero eso es exactamente lo que preciso.


En otros lados, estaba hablando con una amiga el otro dia, y mencionó que un matrimonio que ella conozca estan pasando por problemas. Hasta me hizo hacer duaá por ellos, porque yo si intimamente entiendo lo que estan pasando: la mujer pasará muchas problemas en parir, y por entonces el hombre quiere casarse con otra mujer (son musulmanes y no permanezcan aquí en los EEUU). A ella le dará mucho si él tuviera otra matrimonio a la véz, y tampoco quiere divorciarse; él no quiere pasarse de su derecho de tener hijos y no quiere perjudicarle el salud a su primera mujer.

Ayyyyy que caso. Fíjate.

Aprecio mucho que por lo menos mi amiga no mencionó los especificos de la situación, ya que entiendo lo doloroso pueda ser si salga quiénes son.

Lo veo de ambos lados. Me habían dicho alguna vez que no podrìa tener hijos. Imaginate, ser mujer negra, alta, Y¿ esteríl? ¡ NUNCA me casaría! Especialmente en ésta comunidad de musulmanes, tan enfocados en procreación. Estaba muy nerviosa hasta que resolvieron lo que me pasaba. Y, a mi me encantan los niños; siempre he dicho que me gustaría tener a lo menos cinco. (jajaja, y todas mis amigas hasta hoy me dicen... espere hasta que tienes el primero, aver...)
Por eso es que, aunque no soy muy celosa, he caminado en los pasos de la mujer en ese matrimonio, y hice duà que Alá subjanaju wa taàla le resolviera lo que paso entre ella y su esposo.

Tambien lo veo por el ról del esposo. Imagina que te enamoras con un hombre, y tenías posibilidad de casarse con otro a la vez, es decir, tener matrimonio polígamo. Como te casaste "por amor", y amas al primer hombre, no lo quieres dejar. Pero a la vez, quieres cinco hijos- o por lo menos, dos, si Dios quiere- y el amor de tu vida, tu primer hombre, esta planteado a frente del vìa. ¿Què harías? Aunque le dolía mucho a mi esposo, no puedo decir que decidiera a favor de no casarme con hombre que me diera hijo. Y como quiera nadie va salir ileso de la situacion. Tengo que orar por ambos.

¿Qué mas? Aún estoy de recuperación del choque del otro día. De verdad salió que el seguro de la mujer habìa vencido hace tiempo, lo que llevó la compañia a negarlo, y por entonces mis rates van a subir, thanks! Lo que me preocupa es que cuando me cotejaron el nivel de glucosa en mi sangre estaba sumamente alta, indicación nueva que el diabetes genetica de mi familia me caza de nuevo. Cosa es, que cada vez que paso por el examen de ayuno, mis nùmeros y niveles salen bajitos. No lo entiendo, pues hay mas duaá que hacer. Cosa buena que salio del dia pésimo que era mi mièrcoles: actuè como intèrprete por un hombre que estaba alla con su gerente (ambos trabajadores en una compañia de comida muy popular), y no solamente me dieron certificado para comida gratis, pero el doctor y la gerente de su oficina estaban tan impresionados, que me pidieron una tarjeta de informacion, ¡ para llamarme si es que me necesitan de nuevo! ¡Aljamdulilá!

Ahora, tengo que encontrar impresora.... pero finalmente, ¿no es un problema deseable?

peace

TwennyTwo

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Rules!

Assalamu Alaikum,

Yes, new rules, ala Bill Mahr, even though I haven't watched him in YEARS.


10: IF you are driving, you must pay attention to the road. There is no makeup exemption to this rule. This rule applies double during inclement weather.

9: If you hit someone, you must call the police. Failing to hit and run does not exempt you.

8: IF you do not have insurance, do not give an insurance information card that is 3 years old.

7: Your boyfriend cannot call the person YOU hit to intimidate them out of going to the doctor.

6: All people who are represented on household insurance must be spouses.

5: You may not call the person you hit and ask for their insurance information in order to pay the damages.

4: Yellow lights do not mean GO.

3: Never ASSUME anything.

2: Not having your wipers on is ILLEGAL in the rain.

1. RED MEANS STOP.



Anyone want to guess what happened to me yesterday? Alhamdulillah I'm fine; have whiplash, but treatable. The Pimp Car (tm) is also fine, alhamdulillah. But it was a real waste of a Wednesday.


peace
TwennyTwo

Saturday, June 06, 2009

It's almost done...

Assalamu Alaikum,

Wow, that's now two months this year that I've skipped posting.... my bad.

May began with a bang, and you know what? IT NEVER LET UP!

First, alhamdulillah, I ran the Conservopolis Half Marathon and FINISHED. My completion time was extremely slow, but faster than the 4:30:00 I originally projected on my entry form! Takbir!
I... man I was sore for like a week afterward, but I'm still high on the accomplishment, a month later. I have never been so unsure of finishing anything. Alhamdulillah, I did. Even after having 2 separate asthma attacks (doggone honeysuckle). Even after having to walk more and run less than I wanted.
My sister was a HUGE help. I was grumpy at the beginning of the race- A2, my assistant, ran with me for the first 2 miles, then peeled off ahead. But I knew I wasn't going to be able to go much faster than I did. (A2 actually finshed an hour before I did. Go A2!)

But man, when my sister popped out at that first mile, I had to laugh. She literally POPPED up; boing-ing up and down from the curb, screaming: "Yaayyyhooooo! THAT'S MY SISTER! HI SISTER!" and hugging me with a squeal. She then proceeded to pop up several times during the race, and she walked with me for a couple parts of it. You know, I wasn't going to tell my family that I was racing- and I still didn't tell my father until after I finished... and that's all I'm saying about that here...- but I don't think I'd've finished without my sister being there. Especially after that asthma attack at mile 6.

Oh man, and I saw a couple of people I hadn't seen in a while, including Miss Elizabeth, my old swim teacher! She was my teacher when I was tiny and unconfident, and she's such an inspiration to me. We share a birthday, which is also pretty cool. I'll have to tell you about her some time.


ANYway. So yes, I finished the half marathon. And then, I dunno, life got hard. Oh, yeah, I found out I have an ulcer or similar gastric-distress-causing issues with my stomach. That was not. fun. And I had strep twice in May- the second time after Baji had her baby...

... which was a boy! named Amin. So that's 3 boys for Baji and Baya. May all of them be righteous in the way of Allah, and a blessing to their parents and family, amin!

... which means that I have not actually met that baby yet. Boo hiss. And i was out of days by then, so I just took the prescription Baji had given me earlier (she's my doc) and trooped into work. And then? Then the ceiling fell in and I planned:

-1 Field Trip an hour away with 40 preschoolers
-1 Field DAY concurrent with a Graduation for same preschoolers
-3 booth games for the school fundraiser, which was today

All within 10 days. Because I am nuts and also because I don't like to look at calendars.


So please forgive me for not posting in May. I was a teeny bit busy.

In other news, Practimate is... hmph. Don't get me started. The lectures have re-started, mashaAllah, and I'm still thinking about asking for a refund for matching, since none of my matches seemed to be open to being matched to a Black woman. Go figure. Or don't. I'm not going to talk about that any longer. I am still recommending Practimate to single Muslims, but only for the mashaAllah-excellent lectures.
That reminds me, I wonder if Half Our Deen is up?

And yes, Sunny and Catty1 are getting married next weekend. BUT D, one of my bestest friends from childhood and beyond, is getting married 2 weeks after that. AND, I've registered for Fawakih, yay! And ISNA, yehoo! My summer is looking up. InshaAllah yours will as well...


peace
TwennyTwo

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things you don't say aloud

assalamu alaikum,

Sometimes I'm really constrained by the fact that people I know read this. Sometimes I don't care.

But a lot of times what I say here is what I wouldn't say aloud.

I knew Sunny was getting married. Turns out he's marrying the head of the Catty Crew.


BOOYAH, ya NAFS!!! Just when you thought you were SOMETHING SPECIAL!!


No, those feelings don't get any easier to handle as I get older, but my game face does.


Dag, the worst part is that since Catty1 will be May's SIL I can't even confide how much Catty1 gets on my nerves. Well, I guess this IS going to drive me toward better habits. Back to Allah. Silver linings everywhere.

I had 3 different sets of friends either get married or get engaged this week. I wish them all the best of blessings and happiness, in all sincerity. I just as sincerely wish I didn't know anything about all this wedded bliss. My game face is getting a heckuva workout.

And now I'm off to soak my jainamaz pray.

peace

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Mrs. Moore- and making it to Spring Break

assalamu alaikum,

Ohmagosh. Y'all, finally arriving at Spring Break was like making it to the end of a long hard workout that you didn't want to do in the first place. That was TOUGH! And I RESENTED it! We went from January to April with no breaks. I'm incensed that even though we're an Islamic school, we have to follow our local public district- and they based their break on the Christian calendar. That just meant that we went two months without a break, is all. That, and our break ends with Easter, so all the kids will be bombarded on their week off with pastel bunnies and candy and egg baskets and I don't know what all. I'm not mad at that; just that I'd be a lot more okay if, at Eid, we couldn't escape the 'Eid Mubaraks' and the 'takabarAllah'greetings, if sarees,and silks, and nice suits went on sale, if 'Eid Candy' were even a prospect.

Eh, part of this is that I'm grumpy because this break isn't long enough. I'm trying to figure out how to make it to see Umm Layth. It's been two months without a break, and my disposition suffered.

Two months is not that long. Unless you don't love your job. Then it's sucky.

Lots to think about. I'm currently typing with my Mac on my lap (I love Apple computers. I wish I had that huge Mac Book, but on the other hand, I love love love my baby and I'm happy I have it) while sitting in my bed, my legs propped on a pile of laundry. Who does this to themselves? I have a huge pile of laundry to do. ANd I really don't want to. Which is why I'm writing this post, to anticipate it being done and being able to do other stuff with my spring break.

I was just looking over my archives, and whoa, have I evolved in the past five years. I remember that chick who used to write here when she lived in portareeco, and she was fun, but having lived through what I did... I'm me. Won't be doing that again.

It surprises me how much more my spirituality comes out in my writing; Islam is definitely a fixed part of my identity. I realized it when I was trying to control my reactions earlier.
My favorite teacher, Mrs. A. Jeanne Moore, died on Sunday. I loved her dearly; it's a testament to her class that my Brotha from Anotha Motha (I'm officially giving im the blogname BAM) over there <--- agrees. (He's a grump-wump about teachers in general. Or he was when we were in high school.) She'd spell out the word 'Conservopolis' and made us learn it- this city's name is NOT a joke, even the national media misspells it occasionally. She taught me to write cursive. She taught me to love my self and enjoyed my wacky writing.

That last was most important for me, especially since Mrs. Moore was my first Black teacher. Now, Conservopolis has a decent educational system (even now one of our high schools is being featured on cable TV), and the program BAM and I began in was spectacular. We had two teachers per day from KG through 4th grade; but it wasn't until 2nd grade that we had Mrs. Moore. What she taught us counted; how she saw us stuck in a lot of ways.

(YES, I remember that this is a story about my spiritual identity creeping up on me everywhere. I'm getting there.)

Now, most of you know that I was raised as a Christian, where my mother was very spiritual and my father noncommittal as far as I could see (nowadays he goes to church regularly etc.), so we'd go to church with Mama. Mrs. Moore also attended the same church as my family. I don't know why I didn't realize this until after 2nd grade, but she did. So she was there to witness my pre-teen bossiness and our choir concerts. She was a Delta, and was so super proud when I did my debut with the Deltas. Yes, I'm a Delta Debutante! She sponsored me and came to my ball.

All that was before Islam.

Well, so yesterday my mother told me she died, and I just started sobbing. And the first thing I said? 'Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un' (From God we come, and to God we return). As I contemplated her life today, I thanked God for sending her to be my teacher- she retired just 3 years after I took her class. Today at the time of her funeral, I prayed for her- not the old prayers of my youth; no, what instinctively came to my mind were the pleas of the 'righteous legacy'. "Oh Lord! Expand her grave for her. Let her benefit from our good deeds. Oh Lord! Make the grave light for her, and let righteous Angels and sweet scents be her company. Oh Lord! Accept her good deeds, and make them outweigh the sins by seven times.". And then I added, to myself, 'She was not a Muslim, but she believed in You'.

Then I went back up to the school. The actual elementary school where we all took Mrs. Moore's class is gone, now; they tore it down and rebuilt it. When I walked in, who should I see but Mrs. C, the secretary from my days there! So I got the chance to let her know about Mrs. Moore.

Y'all, I spent a good 20 minutes reminiscing with Mrs. C., since her son Jason was in my class. But I had to stop myself, because every other word out of my mouth would've been 'MashaAllah!' or , 'SubHanAllah!'
Like when she told me that she has a 9 year old grandson, or when she talked about how my old girlfriends now have kids. I really took notice of how often I had to change my expressions around. And I talk a lot. So for me to incorporate dhikr like that means I've made a good deal of addition to my vocabulary. ... MashaAllah.

Hmph. While I was in the office, another lady was there who remembered Mrs. Moore and happened to know of the church since her cousins (who I also grew up with, small world) go there. First thing she said, was, "Oh, you Muslim?" Second question was, "Oh, some man turned you into that?"


*sigh*.

The irony is, I WISH I'd married some man who insisted that his be an Islamic house.

As much as I have incorporated my praise and worship into my life, it seems I will always be an ambassador for Islam, so I better get a little more in.


I don't have much more to say... or rather, I can't seem to type it over the din of the clothes-pile under my feet. InshaAllah I'll be back before the end of the week.

peace

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oops.

Assalamu Alaikum


The fact that I am eating apple pies and drinking vanilla ice cream shakes at 12AM has nothing to do at all with the fact that I missed posting in March. Hmph.


I think I will go make a bogus post in march just to say I did it.


More on ice cream later. Suffice it to say: Sunny's younger SIL lied, and it might not matter whether or not she did. I hate catty girls.

Hope everyone else's deen is still tight. Shouts to the 6 people following me in Google Reader. Y'all rock.

peace
TwennyTwo

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last minute

assalamu alaikum,

Okay, so I told myself that I wouldn't go for an entire calendar month without blogging. This gives me um... 35 minutes to blog. Yay, I made it.

I began this month waiting for it to be over. Which? Is no way to spend 1/12th of 1/28th of my life. Some great things have happened, though. My brother from another mother reappeared in my life (yay, Facebook!), which was fun.

What else? One of the founders of Bayyinah program came to Conservopolis and did a 3-day lecture on the Balagha of the Qur'an. Twas EXCELLENT and if you ever have the chance to go through one of these courses, I recommend it! I was actually sponsored, so I have to send a huge hug to Baji and Bayya who I suspect were my sponsors, and even if they weren't, they hipped the sponsors to the fact that I needed sponsoring.

Yeah.

In other developments, I'm struggling to complete a lot of things, most important right now being my MSN application. I really really really want to go to school. But you know what? I had a 'come to jesus' moment (which, as some other blogger I can't remember said, involves neither Jesus (alayhi salaam) nor religion) and realized a couple of things about myself:

1) I need physical, intellectual and creative stimulation, the way some people need... um, I dunno, salah? Water? Addictive substances? Yeah, bad analogy but the point remains. I am happiest when I am moving and physically interacting with my world, taking some sort of class and outpouring creativity on a very regular basis.

This comes up because I am miserable realizing that my work is my priority, when I really want to go somewhere and study, then go train for the half marathon I registered for today, finishing the day by whipping up some portareecan food and quilting before bed. Yes, I'm irrational for making myself do so much (okay, not quilting so much... the rest is fair game), but it has worked in the past. ON the other hand, when I realized this, it helped because I came up with some really creative projects to do with the preschoolers, and man, did I feel better after a morning of fingerpainting... and then I followed that with a day of soap and color mixing. Their moms hate me for my addiction to colorants (uniform is white shirt, navy bottoms) and I? Don't care. They'd hate me more if I were miserable and making children miserable as well.

2)I am a night person: nocturnal alerness is my DEFAULT state -of-being. This is problematic because, well, weekends aren't enough time to reset my body clock fully, just enough for me to sleep in, wash clothes and dishes and clean things from midnight to about 4 am, do qiyam, and then sleep in again... thereby throwing me out of all the social things people happen to like to do on weekends. Then I'm grumpy and late to work (and yes I ask Allah to bless my bosses abundantly for overlooking the fact that I hate to be up awake and smiling at a 'normal business hour'), or at work and cynical, until Wednesday or so. And yes, I've fought this, but according to my best sources (my mama), I have ALWAYS been alert at night. Blame my father, it's genetic. This world belongs to diurnes (do you like that? I made it up) and it stinks.

It does make me wonder what I'd've done in the days before incandescent light and personal electronics. I think I'd've been a heckuva astronomer; I loved the stars in Puerto Rico. Where I actually saw them, because, you know, the skies were clearer, and I was still. awake. to see them.

3) I need to get married. Three years on, my touch and love post (go check the archives or search above, I'm too lazy to link) still holds true. I have no idea what kind of man will marry a nocturnal muslimah who craves physical, intellectual, and creative stimulation on a regular. Who wants to be a nurse and doesn't want to work after she has kids. I'm still taking classes at practimate.com (again, go link yourself), and they are working out the kinks.
I need some perspective, which I suspect won't come until after I'm inshaAllah married. Because the whole 'matching' process in a community/ummah that encourages separation of genders and matchmaking that includes factors like your family (hi, my brother's nuts and the rest of us aren't muslim), your education (Yes I went to the most expensive school in the country and didn't use that degree, why do you ask?), your SKIN TONE (last I checked chocolate don't change) before your deen (alhamdulillah ana nimat al Islam!) is discouraging.

So because of 1, 2, and 3 above I don't even know if getting an MSN is wise.


I also have to say, that I stopped blogging for a while because I don't think anyone is reading... and the ones who are reading, know me in real life. I didn't think that would be as inhibitive as it is. And I need to blog that through... anyhow.

I'm out. See ya'll before April.

peace
TwennyTwo

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Music

Assalamu Alaikum,
'Deen Tight' trailer-ht to MuslimahLocs for the link.

So I've been thinking about the music thing. First, I went to visit UmmLayth (yes, she of TheMuslimah.com, may Allah bless her); as it turns out, she doesn't live that far from Conservopolis. Since I'd left my laptop at her house I went to retrieve it and stayed the night. It was so good to see her!
We got to talking about many different things, and music was one of them. Alhamdulillah I'm not going to talk about her house here, except to say that she doesn't have a television, and the stereos I saw were not on once. Ya'll say mashaAllah.

She asked me if I listened to music... and then added that she doesn't judge on it. I guess she understood the look on my face.

See, whenever the subject of music and Islam, and living with or without it comes up, I feel pushed. I'd already converted when one of the sisters in MSA, I think she was a vp at the time, made some remark about how a certain person was so extreme, that they put all the pictures in the house face-down, and 'didn't even listen to music!'. And I immediately asked her, "Wait- music isn't allowed in Islam?" She refused to answer, and quickly changed the subject.

So even then I understood this to be something that involved a definite difference of opinions.

Fast forward a couple years, past the MSA East Zone convention where I started wearing hijab, to living in Puerto Rico. By then I was in full immersion mode, and riding in the car with my friend Abeer.

I love Abeer for many reasons, not least of which is that during one lonely Ramadhan after learning that I was fasting by myself, she piled her kids into her rusty blue'89 Chevy wagon, came to my house and bullied me into the car, and did not leave me alone henceforth. I truly believe she not only saved my sanity, but she maintained my link to Islam. This was shortly before I got my first laptop and started this blog.

Anyway, so we were winding through the streets of Guayama, and Abeer asked me:" Pues, cuando mueres, quieres musica, o quieres Qur'an?"- did I want music, or Qur'an playing at my funeral? I forget what brought that on, I think maybe someone famous had died in PR recently.
"Qur'an," I replied firmly.
My brainwashing was nearly complete.

Something brought me back from the brink, though.

It's because of the extremity of actively avoiding music. Not only is it everywhere, but I operated for the longest in a world that moved to its direction. And, I can't see evil just in the existence of melody and harmony. I'm sorry- the Qur'an has too much of those beautiful sisters for me to dislike them for their own sake.

I fully understand the reasons for the dislike of music, really. It takes away from study of Qur'an, it occupies the mind with other things- and certain of these things can be undesirable. There's a hadith involved.

But I also know that I've been brought closer to understanding how to love Rasulullah (saws) and his example through music. Native Deen, Sami Yusuf, and Outlandish have all inspired me to learn more about certain hadiths and ayahs. I still feel the transcendance when music and a deft lyric can say more than all the speeches anyone could write.

And beyond that? As they said in the video, this is something that my mother does, that my grandmother did, that her father did. I know the songs used to tune the hoes in the fields. I know the weariness on my mother's shoulders by the tune she chooses while she scrubs a dish. I can tell you what grade I was in when given hip-hop tunes came out, and who was my friend, and who was my teacher, and what happened to make I was taught as a child that music was something we used to praise God. What do you mean, God doesn't like it? This hit me about as much as not wearing shoes inside peoples' houses- my father insisted that we wear shoes inside the house if we were awake. It's that kind of training. I'm a classically trained musician, and my siblings have won gold medals in performance. How do I turn away? I just don't see first that it's wrong, and second, how to fight it.

I do know that the way forward is through strengthening faith. The more I memorize Qur'an, the more I want to learn more, the less time I do spend with music. I do miss composing though, and spoken word. So that's the part of hip-hop I feel connected to. As it is, I rarely listen to music unless I'm working out.

Gotta go- just one more point. As part of the Practimate training, we're invited to express our opinions on marriage and potential partners in a variety of ways. One brother expressed his disdain for a sister who- among other things- listened to music. I really wonder how many of these brothers listen to absolutely no music (I mean, no anasheed? Sami Yusuf but without strings? What?) and how to portray the fact that I'm okay with filtered music right now, though inshaAllah I'm definitely open to decreasing my usage. How intolerant are we as an ummah to something where there is a known difference of opinion?

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. Salaamu Alaikum.

peace
TwennyTwo

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When a dream is awesome

Assalamu Alaikum,

Man, it's cold. I only mention it because it was so cold I got off work yesterday. Yes, the schools closed for a COLD DAY.

Mind you we're talking minus 15 wind chill, so it was kinda expected.

It gave me much needed time to rest...

... and to do my Practimate work. Go on, check it out, it's a new initiative by Sheikh Yaser Birjas, of Marriage Revolution fame.

I like the program because it offers training for people before they marry... and even before you meet 'The One'. Training of the sort I've been bugging Bro. Leader about for a while, but he's got bigger better things to do. So I'm in the first batch of people to go through the program, and I like- not because it's asking me to think about things that I've never thought about before. I've actually thought about marriage enough that my answers are substantial. I like the exercises because they're forcing me to focus and clarify my thinking, and my expectations for marriage. And this is just Step One of eight in the program.

My only (teeny weeny) detraction is that I think we need to do more! Faster! Both because I really (really) want to get married already, and because I'm an action oriented person, I need something going on in order to keep working on the program. We discuss a new module every 3-5 days (it's supposed to be 2-4, but 3-5 is more like what I've noticed).

So, yeah. Practimate rocks.

In related but different matters, I had the most awesomest dream yesterday. This was after going out to eat with my family, on my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Toto! But anyway, so I came home and went to sleep and... dreamt. Of a person I won't name. And I was mad happy when I woke up (before Fajr!).

Because dreams can be suggestive of the future, I don't want to tell the details. But I do have a question. When a dream is awesome, how do you follow it? Do you just wait and see what happens? Or do you act on what you saw? I feel a very strong urge to do a particular thing based on this dream. I mean, I woke up and prayed the urge to go do this was so strong. MashaAllah.

And when is a dream just, you know, a dream?

peace
TwennyTwo

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My Fairy Tales

Assalamu Alaikum,


Most of my friends- I mean, a good deal- are married (or coupled and nearly married up... lookin' at you, Meke). And all of the women will tell you that the first thing I ask about is how they got together. I call those stories my 'fairy tales'- even if they're no happily ever after story, they're always good for a sigh and a smile.

The story of Michelle Obama is no exception:


My friend A. has warned me, 'Don't go talking about this to everyone! This is private!' And I took her nasiha at first, because she was right in that not all ears are attached to those who are looking out for my best interest. But at the same time, it's just hard for me NOT to talk about the things that interest me; so when you're around me you hear about preschool learning activities, microbiology and midwifery, and marriage. And alhamdulillah, I think that especially in this cuture, in the US, the pot that squeals gets poured. If I don't put it out there that I love my students, that nursing and the whole process of birth interest me, and that I want to get married, how will opportunities make themselves known?

Today at halaqa we talked about Hasad, and jealousy, and the evil eye, and how nothing that happens to us happens, except by permission and will of Allah. And that just as we are working within time with our tools of free will, good deeds, and dua'a to ask Allah to give us good, we can't understand just how fully Allah is outside of time, and created free will, and wants us to ask for what he already gave. It was deep.

And since I was sitting close to Bro. Leader, I looked down at my behennaed hands while he talked. I've found that the American respect of looking people in the eye when they're talking doesn't always translate well into intimate Islamic study circles... and when I looked up, Farhan was sitting across from me. I was startled. And got flustered... could this be the beginning of my own fairy tale? I gazed at my hands again, and made dua'a that Allah's will be made clear. When I looked up again, Farhan was gone. And Bro. Leader had returned to the topic of the goodness of Allah's rizq, in that he has written not only what he willed, but what we ask for.

peace
TwennyTwo

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Against pity parties

Assalamu Alaikum,

(There's a plea for your help for a certain group at the bottom of this entry- scroll down if you want your ajr the quick way.)

For reasons I don't care to remember, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself yesterday. I mean, I had the blues, those weepy whiny unshakeable doldrums. Not a happy place, you know?


Then, I talked to my mama. Still blue.

Then, I ate some food. Still blue.

Then I missed juma'a. Now REALLY blue (I forgot they changed the time since the last time I could go. Boo, hiss, daylight saving time!).

So I asked myself, when it is that I feel at my best- and the answer is when I'm helping someone else's need. There's really nothing that feels better than that, sometimes. Maybe that's something that Allah put in all of us- or maybe He requires us to give Zakah in order to make sure that we feel it once in a while. Wa Allahu Alim.

And then I started thinking that I needed to be actively thinking about other people. So I went ahead and made dhuhr and asr and made dua'a for some other people I know who really need adiyat to Allah. I mean, wow. I had the blues about some pretty insignificant stuff, compared to the worry they're facing.

Then, I got dressed and put on a little lip gloss (I was ACTIVELY kicking out the pity party, I needed some glimmer), and I went to Conservopolis's rally for Gaza. Again, just making dua'a for the people of Gaza while I was driving. If you've been on my FB, you know how I feel about the situation.
In order to get to the rally site I had to park my car at the masjid, and then walk, alone, for about 10 minutes. That was amazing, that walk. It was right after maghrib, the sky was amazing colors, but the street was dark enough to encourage thought. I'd forgotten about how crucial physical exercise can be. I got a chance to think things out.

We all stood on the corner with lights. I saw to my pleasure some unexpected friends there, from MAS. And some of my students, to hold my hand. We all said Surah al Fatiha, those of us who knew it, and then walked down the street, silently, with lights, to the masjid.

I was really feeling better at that point.

Anyway, I ended the day at MAS's Friday Social, and had a great time laughing with the women there, some excellent people. I really cut up, making people laugh. And to put a cherry on the great end to a horrible day, UmFarhan and Marya showed up (they said at the rally they'd probably be going home). And I went to sleep with that sense of release that only serious laughter in seriously good company can bring.

That day, with it's relatively light horrible beginning, had an excellent ending alHamdulillah. If I hadn't gone through that, I don't think I'd've been able to post about it, and so I wouldn't have posted below. SubhanAllah.

After I woke, I read this entry. Last week pretty much everyone in the country heard about the massacre in Southern California, where an ex-husband of a daughter at her parent's party on Dec. 24th dressed in a Santa suit and opened fire on the party. He later set the house on fire. Sylvia Ortega was killed as were eight of her relatives. As a result of that night, thirteen children were left totally orphaned, and two others lost one parent.

Remember that our prophet, my Allah bless him and give him peace, was an orphan. Imagine one of your children orphaned. Please give what you can. And if you absolutely cannot give (are you positive? Do you know the rewards of giving to orphans?), then please make dua'a for this family, the families of those lost and injured and under duress in Gaza, the West Bank, and Isra'il.

fimanillah (with faith in God),
TwennyTwo

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Feliz Año 1430... o 2009

Assalamu Alaikum,

So lately I've been thinking about this whole thing of not celebrating anything but Eid. I like it and in reality that's how I roll; but it complicates my life. Because I live with my parents and all. So, for example, this year 1430 and 2009 began relatively closely to each other- which led to this scenario:

Me: Hi, I finally brought back the books! Made it just in time!
Holden the librarian: Oh! Happy New Year!
Me: Oh! Thanks! You know?
Holden: Know what?
Me: Oh, the Islamic New Year began yesterday. But Happy New Year to you, too. (totally embarrassed by that slip)

To add to it I got my own henna powder (and didn't have to sift it, can you believe that?) and so went about the past three days with henna patterns on both hands. I mixed it myself because I was trying to come up with a good recipe (psst... sifted powder, fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice, a little sugar, honey, and my secret ingredients- clove oil {substitute lavender oil for kids and preg. mamas) and eucalyptus oil... my henna is still BLACK looking, yo, it's excellent!) and so now JW is freaking out. "It wierds me out to hand you something when your hand looks like that... does it hurt?" I keep forgetting my hands look weird to other people. MashaAllah, my little islamically enclosed world is well insulated. I don't leave it except to go home and go to class.

I'm making dua'a for those we know aren't beginning this year well- I got into such a 'discussion' over on my FB over Gaza. I happen to have studied this in school, it makes me so sad and angry on so many levels. May Allah help the oppressed, and help the Muslims to be on the side of the righteous, may He continue to guide everyone to a resolution of this violence, and may He give comfort and solace to ALL of the grieving families and grant Jennah al Firdous, the highest heaven, to those killed injustly in His time, amin.

Please make dua'a for me. May this be the year that truly increases my iman, and keeps us all on the straight path. A year full of revealed goodness, of blessings and strength and success in all good things.

fimanillah
TwennyTwo