Tuesday, December 27, 2011

By the Token of Time...

I look back at the last ten years of my life and see the immense amount of change. I see the paradigm shifts, the outbursts, the tensions, the transitions, the pushing forward, the falling back, the temporary bouts of insanity, the moments of true clarity, the anger, the happiness, the frustration, the cheerfulness, the all of the above and more. But, when last year I finally had the opportunity to stand in front of a classroom and just share a part of my passion, to students who were unwilling given that American Government is a general requirement no one wants to take, I've felt the aforementioned feelings plus ten-fold. I wonder what influence Time has....

Time is a beautiful, yet disconcerting teacher. She challenges your forbearance, but if you withstand her, you reap the rewards. There are moments when engaging with Time, that you hate her so much, you'd like to cease her existence. You'd like to press that "pause" button for all of eternity. You'd like to rewind her, change her, fast-forward her --> but you can't. Benjamin Franklin says "Lost time is never found again" and to some extent that is true. However, you can never lose time, she is always there, silently with you. Waiting for you to take notice of her, waiting for you to remember her. You may forget Time, but you will never lose her. She is there, with your every breath, every step, every blink, every smile; Time is your life-long companion... Treat her well, and she will treat you well.

One of the biggest epiphanies about time I had, was when reading St. Augustine's Confessions during undergrad in my Ancient and Medieval Political Thought class... St. Augustine asserted that time, like human beings, are a creation of God. That God exists despite time, outside of time, beyond time. Upon reading that notion, I realized that Time, as a creation, as a 'being' needed to be treated as well as I would treat myself, my family, my friends, even my things... Time needed to be treated with the accordance and love; with justice and patience; with hope and with fear; with tranquility and with tension. Time needed me as much as I needed her. We exist together on parallel planes, in different forms, within the same universe.

I learned that over the last 24 years of my life, Time has been good to me. She helps me in tough situations, she gives me a piece of her whenever I need an extra moment to breath. She condenses and expands when I'm in tight situations. In fact, when Time is short, she gives me more; when Time is long, she reminds me how much of her I could forget, misplace, or neglect. When I remember her, I could swear I can hear her as she calls up to the Lord and says: "Reem remembered me... so, please Lord, remember her."

Maybe, I am in a mystical fantasy... Maybe, I am just one of those crazies who see things in material form despite their abstractness... Maybe, I fell in love with Time when I realized that our Lord made her specifically tailored to me. To be my best companion and friend. When I neglect her, I neglect a piece of myself. When I forget her, I forget myself...

Time is alluring, strong, patient, willful, nurturing, challenging, and thought-provoking. She is the epitome of beauty... there is no wonder that God swears by her in the Quran "By the Token of Time...."

<3

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I hear you





I hear you, from the tranquil thrumming of a damascene 'Oud
to the patient plucking of a Korean Gayageum
in the whispers of the wind
through the chants of a Buddhist monk...
I hear you, through the vibrant and enchanting flames of a candle lit menorah
in the twinkling star, situated at the zenith of a christmas tree...
through the unruly curls at a young child's brow
in the spiral twirls of incense smoke ascending to the sky.
I hear you, in the rising steam of a hot cup of tea
through the purring of a contented cat
in the beguiling, trance-like dance of a dervish
through the murmurs and sighs of an unspoken secret
I hear you, in the romanticized memories of the past
and the hopeful enthusiasm of the future
in the restless pacing of a worried parent
through the excitement and passion of a new love.
I hear you, through the dense and impenetrable fog
in the flooding nourishment of the rain
through the blistering heat of the sun
and the dizzying whirl of snowflakes, as they coat the earth.
I hear you, in the storytelling of a native american elder
through the spirit of animals
in the history of souls
in the logic of time...
I hear you...
I hope you can hear me too...

Friday, December 16, 2011

restless



In the wind,
multi-directional,
continuity...
faith, apples, yesterday
restless memories
of beehives... honey
combing away
the knots in your hair...
dancer,
flowing like a plastic bag
caught in the wind...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Point of Comparison...

I am somewhat exasperated with people (well with the upcoming listed qualities) lately. I don't know why, but being in their presence is just head-ache inducing. To the extent, that I've outright avoided them, or walked away from them, or started having a totally different conversation in my brain, or even just continued to nod in their presence while trying to steer the conversation in another direction. It is like, over the last week, I keep running into people exhibiting these qualities. The reason I say it like that, is because they are not people who are typically like this.... in all facets of their lives. Maybe I've never noticed it before, but more accurately, I don't think they were every like this, unless when under extreme duress. Which begs the question (at least in my brain) -- should I ask them what is wrong? (what if nothing is wrong) Or should I just let it go? (despite the fact that they induce migraines)....

So, what has been happening?

First, I have been interacting with people, who constantly use themselves as a point of comparison. Almost, to steer the conversation away from the issue/topic at hand, and bring it back to themselves. Now, there is nothing wrong with comparing situations for purely epistemic (deeper understanding) purposes. But to constantly belittle another's experiences with reference to your own just isn't appropriate. For example, (TOTALLY FAKE RANDOM EXAMPLE!) - me talking to Emily about my difficulties with grad school, and Emily saying something like "your life is not as hard as you think it is, you are a kid with no responsibilities, just college". Now, if Emily was to say something like "oh I totally get what you mean, it's been challenging for me to balance my motherly duties with my academic duties", I see no fault with that. It's creating a point of reference in your own life. But by using it as a point of difference "your like is not as hard", that's just obnoxious.

----- God doesn't burden a soul more than one can handle ---- so you're difficulties are relative, your periods/experiences of ease are relative as well... Please, please, please just let people feel what they want, don't belittle their experiences.

Second, people who are just harsh. Now, this my overlap with the first point, but it's different. Sometimes I just wish that people will turn their critical eye towards themselves. To judge themselves 100 times more harshly than they judge others. Something as simple as "that girl is so fat" or "has a horrible sense of style" -- seriously, you have no right. Because don't dish out what you can't take in. Trust me, you aren't infallible. I am sure you are equally as flawed. How would you like it to constantly be pointed out to other people in public settings. Please, just remember, God hides our sins and protects our privacy, until we reveal our indiscretions to the world. Who are you to point out someone's past, present, or future misgivings? If you farted in the privacy of your car? Or picked your nose while in the bathroom? Is that something you want to be pointed out in public? Just let inconsistencies/mistakes/flaws of others go, unless you are one-on-one and need to advise them... then at least be tactful.

Third, even when you joke, be nice. Don't make someone feel subhuman, or at least less than you, even while joking. This ties #1 and #2 together. I was in conversation with someone, and they basically pointed out (while supposedly joking), that a certain quality of mine. This quality does not need to be positive or negative. But when joked about in a specific tone of voice, it makes a person feel deficient, incomplete, less than normal. For example, I have no qualms saying that I am very much emotional. Sometimes it is AWESOME because I feel strong levels of empathy and sympathy for people. Sometimes it SUCKS because I'll start crying in the middle of a conversation with someone in a very public setting. But to tell me that "oh reem, you'll never be able to teach, because you have no control of your emotions" then laugh it off like it was some sort of joke.... well, that's B.S. and people will eventually avoid you for your B.S.. Most people don't like to be bullied, and that what those kinds of jokes are, a form of bullying. Oh snap, now you realize that you may have been a bully without realizing... doesn't that suck.... o.O

Finally, I ask that you tap into your human center and constantly embody positive behaviors. I know this all sounds idealistic, and that we aren't at all as perfect as we'd like to be, but we need something to strive towards. If people tick me off, I have different reactions depending on the individual involved and the extent of anger. I could: smile, laugh (most of the time this is what happens with me), flip out, walk away, give them the "look", get confused, change the course of the conversation, or just talk out the issue. How I will react changes all the time. But, If someone is being negative towards you, then find a way to turn it into a positive experience. Whether it is during, before, or after the experience.

I guess that's it. I know this was long and tiresome, but I had to get it out of me. This is my post ex facto blog post to turn my negative experiences into a lesson learned. Because, honestly, no one really reads this.... So, it's more like an organizing of my personal thoughts. o.O

PEACE.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Audit to learn... learn to audit!

So, I have this thing... about not taking classes officially because either 1) I can't afford it; or 2) it is not necessary for my degree, so there's no point in paying for it. So, I tend to Audit a class per year or even per semester. This fall, I am taking 3 classes, teaching, taking 2 comprehensive exams, working on a couple of research projects, reviewing some papers for potential publication, running some campus activities, and now I am thinking of auditing a class...

The thing is... I have too many good choices this semester!!! Let me show you what my options are:

Black Social and Political Thought
Introduction to Peace and Security Studies
Democracy
Race and Racism in America

See the thing is, I want to take 2 of them.... I can't just let it go... But I am way too busy this fall to take on extra (albeit voluntary) course work. I REALLY want to take the Black social and political thought class... but I really want to take the peace and security studies class too... and the Democracy one... and the race one... UGHHHHH!!! How can you narrow it down!!!!! o.O They all sound so interesting....

If you were me, what class would you add on????

I think I'm going to go with the first choice... why? Because I <3 WEB DuBois, and maybe this will expose me to some other authors during his era.... and maybe some more modern (of this time period) theorists..... hmmmmmm.....

I wish I didn't have to choose... In fact... I wish I could take all of them... o.O

This is the dilemma of the college student who loves the classroom and to learn.... I hope the professors let me sit in the class!!! Usually I audit Near Eastern Studies courses or political science, but this time the courses are from anthropology, sociology, peace and conflict studies and africana studies. So, different departments.... Don't know how the profs will react....

Pray for me!!! <3

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ramadany





I haven't posted in about a month... it feels like forever... odd.

This Ramadan has been interesting, so unique because I don't have a crazy schedule. I just teach in the morning and the rest of the day, I'm essentially free (other than research/paper writing). It is my first Ramadan in a long time, that I've had the opportunity to go to tarawih (the night prayers), because usually I have night classes up until 10pm and I don't get home till 11pm. I haven't gone to Qiyams (which is a long prayer all night long) with such frequency 2-3 times a week. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever even tasted the spiritual sweetness of Ramadan that scholars always talk about. But this Ramadan, I think I'm somewhere close. Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, maybe its the community feel, maybe it's just God. But I feel like I'm getting there.

Recently, I've been looking into other ways of expressing my faith, a more spiritual side, and this started about a month or so before Ramadan. I felt like I was just a machine, mechanically prayer, mechanically practicing.... my hinges needed to be oiled, my body clanging with each movement, it was grating. It was exhausting. I just felt wrong. I think God saw this, maybe my friends saw this, but suddenly I was thrust into a new world of spirituality that I haven't experienced before. An avenue that is much misunderstood (and still is by me), but it is something I learned (aml earning) to find contentment in. It is GENUINE. It is something that I found God in.

Yesterday at the Qiyam Sheik Salim Khalid said "I ride the waves of faith/spirituality", and his statement really resonated with me. I don't think I truly would have internalized such as statement 2 months ago. I would have chalked it up to be flowery, probably mocked it to no extent. But yesterday, I found it to be so unbelievable true.

Before Ramadan started, I visited multiple religious centers of various faith traditions. People hummed/sang with their spiritual leaders. Some swayed. Some chanted with gusto. I took it in. I observed, smiled, and swayed along. But instead in my head, I whispered some dhikr (remembrances of god) "thank god, god is beautiful, god is merciful...." I felt like I was part of a body of worshippers, each of us worshipping God in our own way. Now, during night prayers, something I NEVER could connect with, I feel the thread tying us all together. At the mawlids, I feel that thread. With the gift exchange of prayer beads, I feel the connection. I realized, the tradition I was lost in (not a specific tradition, but my own established self tradition) was so difficult to deal with. I am a very active person and I thought that type of religious lifestyle suited me the best. So, spirituality and gatherings of seeking a spiritual side were pushed off as not being as productive. I don't know what I am trying to say, really. But I guess, I found a direction I want to go through and I'm standing at the door looking out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

better to shut up




Often we hear that it is better to stay quiet than say something you may regret.... There are tons of famous quotes that allude to the power of silence.

“There are times when silence has the loudest voice”(Leroy Brownlow)
“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.” (Gloria Naylor)
“Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts.” (Maragaret Lee Runbeck)
“Do not speak unless you can improve the silence”(proverb)
"Say good words or remain silent"(prophet Muhammad)
“Silence is a source of great strength.” (Lao Tzu)
“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.” (Confucius)
“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers” (Khalil Jibran)
“Silence is also speech” (Proverb)
“Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.” (Josh Billings)
“Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrusts himself” (Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld)
“The world would be happier if men had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak”(Baruch Spinoza)

and there are tons of others on the topic...

I've been trying to pick up the habit or art silence... I am a very talkative person (both internally and externally)... Ironically, I teach my students that "silence is consent"... but maybe silence is a bit more necessary... Sometimes you can really put your foot in your mouth. I see these quiet people, and lately, I'm jealous of them. I wish I had the power to shut up. There are times when warning signals go off in my brain and tell me to stop talking but I ignore them...

so why am I blogging about this...

Today, I opened up a conversation with my mother. I asked her if she could ever undo or edit a decision she's made in the past. I don't know what she expected me to respond with afterwards but I mentioned my education. I didn't mean that I wanted to change my career... or start a new one... I just wanted to de-stress. But I forgot, that sometimes people will misunderstand your words... No matter how many times you try to explain them. That people will forever interpret them with whatever lenses they're wearing at that moment or throughout life. I learned long ago, not to talk about school with my mom, because she never liked my career choice. Academia is a lot of work and I guess, in her own way, she believes that I should exert my energies in a place that may be more productive.

Well, I am going through the toughest part of my career and it's going to be equally as tough for the next two years. I am taking my comprehensive exams and then I will be starting my dissertation, God Willing. I've been in graduate school for over 4 years now; and I still have at least another 2 years... I guess what I wanted with my conversation with my mother, was a little support during this time, maybe some reassurance, maybe some love, maybe some hope... I don't know. But maybe I need to recognize that silence is the best option during times of stress. Maybe those who you normally go to with everything don't need to hear it.

Maybe, if you practice silence you don't have to worry of the repercussions of your words that bounce off another person and back upon you. My dad always quotes prophet Muhammad by saying "Those who say that the people are doomed, they are those who have brought doom upon the people" (really bad translation)... Maybe negative energy needs to be expressed, but not necessarily through words... maybe it can be expressed through other means. When you talk about how stressed you are, or depressed you are, or angry you are, or doomed or whatever.... I guess that's just fuel to the fire. Maybe there is wisdom in silence. It's been tested and tried, right?

Therefore, I have decided to up my game in practicing silence.... Before speaking I will answer the following questions in my head:
1- Does whatever I may say bring benefit? If yes... continue... if no... stop
2- Can whatever that needs to be expressed, be expressed in another way?
3- Is whatever I may say, something stemming from selfish purposes?

Any pointers on how to practice silence?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moms rock

So, I'm gonna keep this post short but I thought it was worth blogging about.

I'm sitting on my laptop, reading journal articles... Mind you, they're articles that are irrelevant to my direct research, but extremely relevant to my field of study (especially with the comprehensive exams looming). Now, I know my mom didn't read the titles or authors, and even if she did, she wouldn't have recognized which others were relevant. I mean, she doesn't really know what my research is really about.

But she said:

"Reem... Do your research!"

in the same tone she may have used about 10-12 years ago when telling me "Reem... Do your homework!" ...

So, my mom rocks. Because she still 'gots it'. I mean, seriously. Other people might have heard their parent say that and go "mom! I'm an adult now.... stop reminding me like I'm 12" but me, I love it!!! My mom, she is awesome.

Now, let me get back to my research... my real 'Hi! my deadline is today' research...

peace.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Maybe I'm too cliche

My friend C.R. recently said something: that when God wants you to learn something, then God constantly bombards you with the same message over and over again. (completely paraphrased).

I don't want to say recently, but almost my whole life, I've had this love of differences. And as time progresses, I am bombarded with situations and people who are just soooo different and you can do nothing but embrace it. Humans were never completely the same. Even if our biological make up is 99% the same, we still have that 1% of difference that breaks the cycle. I've had this appreciation of non-conformity. I am enthralled by learning from people who have different outlooks, experiences, backgrounds and so forth. I don't care what the difference is, I just love to learn from it. However, we live in a society of herd mentality, conformity, and you know, being part of the in-crowd. So, in essence, I was often the odd man out. I learned, over time, to quietly appreciate from afar but never vocalize it. In college, I realized that I could speak up again... However, people started to assume that my curiosity in the 'otherness' of things was a way to affirm 'myself-ness' but really it's not. People get on the defensive and start arguing, where I would be totally content just listening. But, I am genuinely curious and interested and willing to try and experience what you experience to the best of my ability. I fear for those who go on the defensive, because that means that their experiences in the past have pushed them to that point.

Anyway, I love difference. I love it with a passion. I love it so much that when I was a kid, us girls would be like "I wanna marry so and so with such and such qualities" and I would always think "I want someone completely different than me" (whatever you may take that to mean). The thing that I cannot tolerate, or more accurately that thing that I dislike, is when people attempt to force you to take an opinion or to submit to their perspective as though it is better or worse than your own. Often people tell me, "Reem you assert your opinions all the time" and I would like to say:

No, no I do not. I express my opinions all the time. I do not assert them. You can take my opinion, reject my opinion, listen and dissect it, I don't mind. But I will never force it upon anyone. However, sometimes I "over explain my opinions" because I have a fear of being misunderstood. So, if I am saying something for a LOOONNNGGG time, trust me, it is because I feel like you may be misunderstanding me and not me forcing my opinion on you. And if you got what I was trying to say, just sincerely tell me - "Oh Reem, I got it, don't worry" and I'll probably stop, without any negative feelings or anything.

Went off on a tangent again... but anyway, the one thing I cannot handle is someone forcing their opinion upon me. Or indicating that my opinion was "wrong". Opinions were not made to be right or wrong.... that's what makes them opinions rather than facts of life. And even then, these opinions may be a fact of life for a person, but not necessarily for all. I mean, non of us can deny gravity, right? But not all people believe that twizzlers are AWESOME.

Maybe I have "post-modernist" tendencies., although I cannot stand being put into a neatly packaged box and commodified. I think we need to look at our perspectives and really explore how willing we are to accept people. I know that I need to learn to accept people who force their opinions as just peoples will a different take on life (not as pluralistic per se) but it will take time in general. I, myself, am a very opinionated person, in fact WE ALL ARE, even when we think we don't have an opinion about something. However, there are some of us who have no shame in expressing their opinions (or asking people about theirs) and their are some who think it's rude...

So, what's the point of this???

Please, please, please please please!!! Take humans for what they are, humans with opinions, rather than neatly packed ideologies. Experience what makes them human and what shapes their opinions. If people started to see humans as humans and not objects, trust me, the world would just be so much more peaceful and you'll be a million times more likely to experience all that is beautiful within it.

Maybe I'm idealistic. Maybe my opinion doesn't resonate with someone who is reading this. Well if that is the case, feel free to express why my opinion doesn't quite ring with you in the comment's section, in a loving and sisterly/brotherly way. I <3 constructive criticism.. Anyway, maybe I'm too cliche but --- appreciate (and experience!) differences.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Words slap hard

If you do not know this about me, I am a person who typically chooses their words with caution. There is this lingering fear that overwhelms me; in which I will hurt someone deeply and never be able to truly apologize, because I will not recognize the offense. Coupled with this fear is my fascination with language; how one need only to look at language and see the power dynamics thrive as Wittgenstein and Lyotard described. But I realized, that although I am a careful person, I am human and subject to the socialization process of stupidity.

Quick question: Have you ever heard someone say one of the following, or an off-shoot:
I want to die.
Kill me now.
I'd rather die.
I'd rather commit suicide.
Hang me.
Shoot me.

ect????

Well, I have. Repeatedly. In fact, I've heard it so much, it became part of my daily lexicon. Me, who can never tolerate racial jokes, gay jokes or statements like "that's so retarded"; I use these "kill me" statements all the time. Despite the fact that I know people who have committed suicide, I know people who have attempted it, and I have even talked people out of it.

Now, some people might say something like: What's the big deal? It's just a saying....

No, it's not. A couple of months ago, a friend of mine who I knew was depressed was talking to me about the most random things. I said something like one of those aforementioned phrases. I saw the shock on his face, but at the time I didn't comprehend the shock. Maybe I ignored it. Maybe I told myself I was misreading him. I don't know, it was back in january or february... some month when it was snowing like whoa.

Tonight, I said something to the effect of 'hang me now'.... and the minute the words and body language slipped past my control, I regretted it immensely. I kept thing "oh crap, I am so insensitive". Maybe I'm selfish and want to redeem myself....? Maybe, I want to come to terms with myself... Maybe, I want this to be a teachable moment.... But I realized, sometimes we can do something for so long and not realize how much it may hurt someone. While at other times, it just clicks into place and you realize the mistakes.

To my friends who have sought my advice and help through their times of depression and sadness: I apologize.
To all others, I hope I learn to be more cautious about my words.

I continued to think and think..... and think about those statements. Have you realized that these statements are a form of self-degredation? You enslave your soul to a sense of worthlessness and send it into a limbo of hopelessness. An inferiority complex develops, and one starts to think that they really don't matter.

Think about who you have ever heard make these statements... Most of the time, I hear it from people of subaltern backgrounds. People of "otherness" (myself included). Is this a mental slavery? Is this a way to condition the minority masses into feeling like life is not worth it. Wittgenstein believes that language is the embodiment of power; that you see the dynamics of human beings through language. Is this a manifestation of it? Are these statements a way to keep people down. To question their self-worth? Honestly, I don't know.

Recently, a person close to me told me they wanted to die. They said "Reem, life is not worth living... I'd rather die" (somewhat paraphrased, but essentially that). And on the spot I said: "Don't say that! Don't ever say that!".... You only put yourself down into a rut that you sink deeper and deeper into, like quicksand. Depression is a scary thing. Suicide and death, even more so.

So, today, I am breaking free from my past linguistic servitude. Whenever I am tired, exhausted, frustrated, going nuts and even depressed.... I will say "I'm going to bring life" or something to that effect. When someone around me says something like "I want to die" I will respond with "but I want you to live"; it doesn't matter whether they were joking or serious. Life is precious. And words, despite the saying "sticks and stones....", can destroy the world.... or help build a beautiful one.

Therefore, to anyone who reads this: LIVE.
and this poem emerges:

Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will never hurt me
is an inaccurate fallacy
people do get hurt,
in fact , they die...
A word, can trigger wars
or broker peace deals
It is the tight rope walk between
life
and
death
One person can joke
and another will choke
till the words drive them crazy
push them into a frenzy
of anger, laughter, hate, love
despair...
life is anything but fair,
and we need to bear the burden
of our rashly, vomited words...
I never understood how a negative statement
could become so common
We twitch at racism
but shrug at sexism
bat an eyelash at political incorrectness
but don't give a crap about those who are affected
It's a show and we're all jugglers
of pins... no words... no pins
that poke us in the gut...
because we had a gut feeling that something went wrong
with that last statement....
So, think deep, ponder wide
sink into a cloud nine
of hope...
life is no joke....
the phrase
"I want to die"
may be said non-committedly
but
can steal someones soul
throw it overboard
while we go on alive
without realizing
we became a murder...
just by uttering a few words...

----

Keep on living y'all. I know, that without a doubt, you have so much to contribute. Let no one stop you.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Reactive Fools


Recently, I saved all my poetry that I could find in PDF format.... I've accumulated, over the last 5 years, about 200 pages worth of poetry. Some of it is okay, some of it is crap, and others are just post worthy. I've never considered my poetry to be great; actually, I've held a very critical view towards it for a long time. But despite that, I always feel my poetry. Reason being is that I tend to write in one rush of thought with no edits (unless the grammar and spelling are incoherent) and filled with the emotions I felt at the moment. If I start a poem and don't finish it, it'll never finish; it doesn't matter how great the beginning was. But the last poem I wrote was... I think in April.... Well, my blog posts are much the same...

Anyway, someone recently told me that I am too reactive to people. Not reactive as in the moment per se, but constantly conscious about other people's opinions of me. Which I find to weird, telling, incorrect, but somehow accurate. Why? Well, everyone, at some point in their lives has done something in response to perceptions. I am a very proactive person, so it was odd hearing this. But, I guess, what most people don't realize is that being proactive is actually a reactive sentiment from potential/future threats that one may bypass by being proactive.... whattT?????

So... I was told that I will exhaust myself if I constantly react to people, rather than find motivation and inspiration within myself. At this point, I felt being pushed on the defensive, maybe my hackles started to rise, and my eyes started to water--- but I was getting frustrated. However, I said nothing. I let the conversation continue. They continued to articulate that I was confused and unsure about who I am, i.e. that my identity was one that was forged out of reactive tendencies rather than a self will. When they were done, I told them that their perception was interesting, someone correct, but misunderstood, misguided, and well frankly colored in lenses of a world view that was strikingly different than my own.

Well then, who am I? Well, I was someone who grew up under the microscope, as are most young people. I am one who believes that in society, there will always be a referent, a point of comparison when people interact, as Rousseau talks about in the early transformations of society. But, I know exactly who I am. I see my double-consciousness, my otherness, my departure from the norm/mainstream and accept it. I never do things to appease people or defy people per se, but accept the forces of society that exist. I accept my context and define myself accordingly and in spite of. Therefore, if I react to something, it is because I choose to react and will it (yes the Nietzschean in me) then so be it. I am a person who loves to hear other perspectives, ideas, understandings of the world, and learn from them. I am a patch-quilt maker... I learn from the world, I react to the world, I take from the world, and hopefully I give back to the world. If we think that self-will can be completely stripped from society/social bonds, language games, collectivity, all of these ideals then life is reduced to socratic logic of 'If A is B, and B is C then A is C', but even Socrates/Plato recognizes that life adjusts, shifts, and reacts as time progresses; as articulated in the Republic and the transformation of people and governments.

So, what does this mean for me... Life, definitions, language games/rules, paradigms, wills ---- all these things change. Whether in minute details or is huge transformations. But back to the point, this person who told me I was going to burn out constantly reacting to people... No I won't, because you react to the world and people around you, but you just pretend that you don't. Call it what you want, accuse me as you may, but simply put... I react, but it is out of acceptance that life is constantly in flux. According to Lyotard (in my own paraphrasing take), language games are subject to rules, life is a series of language games, and if there are no rules, there are no games. However, the worst possible ending is entropy, which in that case, even if actions/words seem to be 'worse' they are in avoidance of completely dying/disappearing - entropy.

Maybe I went off on a tangent.... But what I am trying to say is this: just because people are reactive, doesn't mean that they don't know who they are. Some people accept it, and use it to change the direction of thought, action, life, the world. You think all the great philosophers were suddenly inspired (well other than St. Augustine in the Confessions) out of nowhere? They were reacting to the status quo of their society, whether they were incorporated within it or not. Contemplation, the idea of thinking about something, is a reaction. Your body is a series of reactions. If every cell reacts, how can you not as a whole being? Nietzsche called these reactions will to power.... maybe they are. Who knows really.

This post is a reaction...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh SNAP panic attack!

Good Afternoon. ^_-

So, I have a tendency to reflect on conversations unintentionally for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years after they occur. I'm not really sure why. Some people have advised me to merely "shut off my brain" or "stop thinking" but it's not that simple. A person, especially me, can't just turn off their brain as though there is an 'on/off' switch. Bits and pieces of conversations always comeback to me. I may forget your name, but many conversations replay in my head, despite my lack of memory in regards to the person I am speaking to. But anyway, it is not something I can just get rid of.

The other day my dad was telling me that in his culture growing up, people used to burn their old journals to symbolize a new start. That with blogs, it is not as easy to give up on the past and start a new beginning with all these emotions still percolating in your brain. That well, people are unlikely to 'delete' all their old posts (or disable their old accounts). As much as I think that burning old journals is a wicked way to start a new phase in life, it is not really probable for me... Unless I suddenly get amnesia.

Anyway, so I was having a conversation with someone today. We exchanged some words and our argument escalated. It escalated quickly and ended quickly, but escalated nonetheless. This conversation was not a new one. It was one that has been lurking in my mind, snippets from other conversations in the past; Like they snowball into one moment and suddenly disperse. Anyway, I organize things in my head thematically, so it doesn't matter who the person is, it is the issue/topic itself that triggers emotions for me.

Basically, I realized something after my conversation this morning... well, in comparison to past conversations as well. People don't do the same thing. People don't think the same way. People don't remember conversations. In fact, people rarely think about the conversations after the day's end or maybe the week's end. I know it sounds silly to not realize that previously, because I knew this, I just didn't realize it. I don't think I bottle up emotions, but I do think that I have a reserve that I tap into sometimes. Today, is one of those days... When the reserve is overflowing, and on such days I avoid conversation. I avoid confrontation. I avoid speaking at large. I avoid it, because I know that whatever I say will escalate and I'd rather not save that argument unintentionally in my mind. This is not something people need to take personally, it's a human flaw that I have. I need to learn how to deal with it.

So, basically... What am I saying here?

For most people, they'll just assume that I'm temporarily 'moody'. I allow that assumption to hold. But really, I am overflowing with thoughts... I am thinking so much about so many things, that I avoid people till my thoughts settle. Sometimes it's a five minute break other times it may be a day. Otherwise, my thoughts are like boiling water, burning hot, bubbles popping, somewhat impetuous, and can only be tempered with a bit of time.

Why am I posting this? Well, for me, blogging allows some of those thoughts to settle a bit more quickly.
But really, Why am I posting this? Well, because although I know I can't stop thinking, I am hoping that someone out there has some constructive advice on how to deal with 'overflowing thoughts'. As well is, how to filter out some of those conversations that really don't need to stay in my brain, but end up there for years. I mean, I have conversations from when I was in summer camp in 1998 playing in my brain and trust me, that period of my life is done and over with. I have a couple from kindergarten even! And they just randomly play in my head... and I sit there and think and think and think about them. Constantly asking myself: What does this mean to me now? Why am I thinking about this? Is it wrong to think about this? Am I psychoanalyzing myself? Then I go on a cost-benefit analysis of self-reflection.... and this will all be going on, while I'm in mid conversation with one of you about, I don't know, say the revolutionary war or something. So, this internal frustration with lack of answers will lead to an aggressiveness in our revolutionary war conversation, and viola --> we escalate into an argument, that really was not supposed to happen.

So, again... why am I posting this?
A) Advice please! on de-cluttering the mind!
B) Forgive me if I ever pushed you into an argument without meaning to.
C) If I need a moment to 'breathe', please it'll just be better for the both of us if you let me take it.
D) I will think about our conversations long after you've forgotten about them, so.... just think about that for a bit.

I guess that's all I really wanted to say.
peace.

Friday, May 6, 2011

mother effer

I type this... as tears stream out of my eyes and my heart clenches in a way that can only be the product of utter exasperation and irritation.
I walked around campus today, and heard and heard and heard the repetition of the word "mother effer..." but you know, the full word. Now, as a woman, mother anything strikes a sense of anger within me, but a word that is so saturated with racist history... well, that hurts.
It hurts me so much, that I could help but start crying when I turned to this boy standing by me. And I said.... "do you know what the word you just said means?" and the one who had made the moronic statement said "what?" As though he was unsure of what I was saying, or maybe that I even spoke at all. Given that my voice was shaking, we were in a room full of people, and well I was the only person who really looked "different" I gathered up my courage, threw a silent prayer to the skies and said "It is the term used, in which slave owners referred to their slaves, because they would force them to breed with their mothers"..... And the boy looked at me... I say boy, but he may have been my age, who knows. But he looked at me as though I was the ignorant one, as though I was the rude one, as though I was the one who spent the last 5 minutes cussing up a storm.
And he said, nothing. Actually, it was more of a "gasp" but not in that "oh my God" kind of way. But you know....

So, I walk away, to pick up my order from taco bell, and he turns to his friend and he's like "I have plenty of black friends, and I've never heard that before".... and then starts cussing me out, like I wasn't 2 feet away, or that he was pretending like I should pretend not to hear him. Now, if you were wondering about his race, I guess his statement makes his distinction clear.... So, moving from that point of distinction, his friend, who happened to be black, was so beautifully eloquent, that I just wanted to hug him on the spot, but resisted the urge. Anyway, the one who used the poopy statement, just went on and on about how I should have not spoken. But from the looks of everyone in the room, I think they all stood on me with this issue, and his friend said "she's just educating you about history".... and they just went on and on.

So, I moved on. Sat down at the first secluded table as I tend to do. And began writing. I decided, that I will write a poem about those words, about this encounter, but I am not quite ready to do so yet. Some things are better left unsaid, and sometimes the messenger gets shot, but someone needs to 'deliver the message'. I think he was upset that a small little quiet girl had the audacity to say something to him. I'm sorry for verbally castrating you stranger, but sometimes things are worth saying. Some things, like those words, are better left unsaid....

Now, why the post? Well, it hurts that people are so naively ignorant. Just because you never heard something before, doesn't mean there is no history to it. Science is the discovery of preexisting things, moments, times, experiences, and/or all of the above, and giving it a name or label. Not that I am reducing science to that meaning only, but in this instance I will stand by that definition. I instantaneously started crying when I heard this young man. Tears just poured out of my eyes, as though I was actually standing outside in the rain, rather within the shelter of a building. I hope that people become more aware about the words they use. Or willing to accept advice from a stranger, who has nothing to gain and everything to lose when giving their thoughts to someone they may never see again.

I don't know where I am going with this. But I know this, I am too sensitive when it comes to words. Maybe it's a product of being a student of philosophy, but I hope that people just develop a tiny bit more understanding and respect to their surroundings.

I don't know. I guess I'll never know. Thoughts anyone?

Some posts I'd like to share:

http://open.salon.com/blog/trig_palin/2009/09/04/a_history_of_the_term_motherfucker

Monday, May 2, 2011

oh snap! oh-sama!

I don't really know how to begin to comment on this. In fact, so many people attacked their facebook walls with messages of relief, of shock, of sarcasm, of anger, of justice, of fear, of hope, of conspiracy theories, of so much. I find that maybe, just maybe a collection of those posts would be interesting to view in one larger post... but I'm too lazy to do some investigative facebook stalking *cough* I mean....journalism.

Anyway, so Osama Bin Laden has been killed. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/05/02/bin.laden.dead/index.html?hpt=T1&iref=BN
and really, I just don't know what to say. The first thought that popped into my head when CNN sent me my news update via text message was: wow... it feels like the boogey man is dead.

But then I thought, as I drifted back into sleep, that boogey man has friends.... and they are equally as scary. :x
I don't want to turn our political reality into a bed time story, or a 'monsters' movie sequel, but my relief turned into a sense of fear. Not because I believe these monsters may retaliate, because we could withstand that as long as we remain human, but rather people have been so accustomed to hating an unseen (and deserving) enemy, that we may direct that hate elsewhere. I don't know. I fear that we have internalized hate and it has become a part of us.



An interesting blog post I wanted to share: http://sweetlife.blastmagazine.com/2011/05/01/bin-ladens-dead-now-what/

So, what do I have to say about OBL's death, nothing really. I will not say that it was good or bad for him to die, because, in the end, he was a human being, twisted, but human. I would have felt that rather than being a casualty of war, he should have been put to trial for his crimes against humanity. This should have been something the world should have witnessed. Who knows. I mean, I'm just a young person with no real wisdom. But, I pray that we all find a sense of justice and hope towards improving society through mutual understanding, compassion, love for humanity, toleration, and even more so, acceptance of people's differences.

I will end on this:

“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression” (W.E.B. Du Bois).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not quite love poem

It's been over a month... and I'm surprised I haven't posted in such a while. It is as though the urge has disappeared and I am just standing in front of a mirror, waiting for my reflection to say something. I don't know.

I started writing a poem... I called it my "not quite love poem"... But I haven't finished it yet. Usually, when I write poetry, it's a one shot game. I write it and that's it... or it gets deserted like nasty leftovers, that make your mouth taste like rotten eggs. But... alas, this is a poem that I want to finish eventually, because it is a perpetual feeling... :x

So, I'll post it, and you can give me feedback.

-----

They say that it is better to have loved and lost
than to have never loved at all
and it makes me wonder
how hard a person must fall
to scramble up their brains
how many butterflies they need to consume
to feel the nervous fluttering in their veins
how many metaphors need to be dropped
in order to feel true love again and again
but...
not everyone follows the rules of the game
when it comes to love
there are no rules
sometimes cupid is a damned tool
and people live in cruel fairy tales
beastly, sleepy, dwarfed, and caged
stuck in this 'i wanna be loved' stage
but...
those of us who aren't
are considered broken
for being one of the girls or one of the guys
and somehow, somehow
I'm supposed to feel hollow inside
fill up this hole, with kodak moments of
regrets and sorrows
fill it up with love
but I can't
I won't
In fact, in this instant, I believe that
ignorance is bliss
I mean, what is love?
An elusive word that can never be defined
except if you are part of the 'in group'
you're crippled if you can't be loved
because, you know, everyone wonders,
why no one else loved you yet?
So, I'm sick of hearing that quote
In fact,
I have no problem with love,
it's people's conceptions that I have problems with.
I love my spinsterhood
I love my career
I love my research
I love being me
I love seclusion and loneliness
I love my friends and family
I love running
I love sports
I love a million other things
so give it up... because
I hate being labeled
insecure,
or being sold off like meat
So, screw it…
I don't believe it at all
Maybe, just maybe
if I am desperate enough
I can be like you...
I'll fall in love with my self
narcissistic personality disorder
chase after a leaf in the wind
fall down the rabbit hole
swim upstream and catch fish with my bare hands
You want me to fall in love
with an idolized dream
with a hyper reality
unraveling strings
tug on the loose end
set me free
because
it is not better to have loved and lost
because your love is as shapeless as gas
as twisted as history
and as addicting as heroine
and my love
well, my love
is to be restriction-less
bias-less
self-sustaining
unconditional
unmonopolized
my love, my love
is free.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

only at 6am

I tend to have odd experiences... People ask me questions, and I never know why I frequently get asked... Maybe I look happy or something.

This morning I was at the gym.... and someone asked me if I was studying for my citizenship exams.... You know, for the naturalization process... and I didn't know whether to laugh.... or laugh, really.



Some days, when I'm pressed for time, I cycle instead of running, because I can read at the same time. So, today, I was reading an anthology of essays by Martha Nussbaum et al., called "For Love of Country"... It explores the question of patriotism. Well, if you know me, then you know, most of my research revolves around the question of Identity, citizenship, and patriotism from a philosophical standpoint. So, basically.... I'm catching up on some academic literature...

But if someone sees the book "For Love of Country" I guess they assume I'm studying how to become an American Patriot. Trust me... I already know. Actually, I'm a bit fascinated by the concept of cosmopolitanism, but it's all good.

I don't want to go into my political views of patriotism and citizenship, but suffice to say, I do not condone, in any way, shape, or form, nationalism, ethnocentrism, or the assumption that one human being or group is better than another..

Anyway, I just wanted to share the experience... Because, I found it hilarious that an instructor of American Government.... a student of the question of patriotism, a researcher of identity.... will be relegated to 'non-citizen' by proxy of her 'foreign image'... i.e. hijab.

I never understand why these questions always come to me.... I have other 'hijabi' friends... but why do I always get the awkward questions.... Maybe its because I have a natural tendency to want and need to break stereotypes, and that aura of defiance draws people, like moths to a flame... maybe not....

If you're wondering what I said..... in response. I just smiled, then laughed, then pointed to my MP3 player, then smiled again. I think he got flustered by my response of finding the situation 'hilarious'...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

W.W.Y.D

Good Morning,

I am sitting on the floor of my apartment. All my roommates are asleep... It's 7:40am, but I've been awake for the last 3-4 hours, grading, studying, thinking, contemplating, drinking coffee, texting, paying bills and so forth. I have all these thoughts roaming around my head and I don't have a clue how to organize them. Take a look at my daily planner.... trust me... I can barely organize that!
Recently, someone asked me, 'Reem, how do you do it all?'

First, I don't know what the infamous 'all' is... and secondly, 'what do I do, in order to know how?'

We've been discussing in the last couple of weeks in my Islam and the Challenges of Modernity class the question of agency, the question of engagement vs. disengagement, the question of grafting and transplantation of ideologies onto people, the question of ontology (the state of being) 'of that which is'. All of this takes me back to the question that repeatedly gets asked to me... how do you do it all... and my conclusion is this.... it's all relative. I know, I know, I maybe somewhat post-modernist, but it is really all relative, both from the 'doer' as well as 'the observer'.

The other day, someone asked me 'why don't you ever do anything?' And at that moment I was shocked, floored really. I couldn't believe that someone thought that I did nothing. It made me realize, that you just need to be. Descartes said "I think, therefore I am", but for me it boils down to "I am, therefore I am" ... Who cares what I think? Who cares what you think? Who cares what is perceived? It comes down to doing something, recognized or not, accepted or not, witnessed or not.

The question should not be, what would Jesus do, or what would Muhammad do, or what would your mom or dad do, or none of the above. It's WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Because, it boils down to you. Your actions, your thoughts, your beliefs, YOU.

Who cares about how I do things? Does it really make a difference? What I do, works for me, because I know myself really well.

My post is about this.... Get to know yourself. I mean it. This sounds silly, but the reality is, most people don't know themselves. What would you do in any given situation? How would you react? How have you reacted in the past, that may set your personal precedent? What are your priorities? What are the principles that guide your personal perspective of life?

Who gives a flying hoot how old, how much, or why I may do something? Think about yourself. What can you do?

I realized that I have stumbled upon the best career a person can have. That is teaching. I LOVE hearing people's thoughts and perspectives. And I constantly get to listen to people discover themselves over and over again. I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a witness to those thoughts, and I will cherish them forever. If any of my students (former or current) read this, I'd like to say, you need to ask yourself the fundamental question 'what would you do?' because your actions boil down to you.

Anyway, I didn't mean to get all philosophical, maybe its sitting cross-legged on the floor, in a room with very little furniture. Maybe its something else.

So ,find yourself, be yourself, ask yourself, 'what would you do?'... Just be. "I am, therefore I am"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lost in a desert in North Africa

If you have not noticed, then it's because of media silence... The voices of Egyptians have been heard, and you will see how much democratic potential was found there... but in Libya, and other nations, the voices have been neglected, lost, distorted, misheard. People are marching in the streets of their hometown, and being killed, abused, and hurt... Find it in your heart to respond to their call...
(this is a sincere and passion-filled, spur of the moment poem, without edit)

------

Lost in a desert in North Africa

I am 6 million strong
neglected and diluted by 6.9 billion others
my voice has been distorted by “the other”
to keep me into a state of servitude, slavery, under
control. Hundreds can die, but no one will know
because the media is being blasted with images
that show everything, but nothing
sensationalized, disconcerting
It hurts, when every family here
knows at least another family member or friend dead
streets can flood and flood, but for some reason, it floods red
the world is just color blind, waiting for order to come instead
of being part of the process, part of the movement
watching from afar, smitten with amusement
some hysterical, some disillusioned
hearing nothing, but white noise in music
While we rally and protest for freedom
One man’s control, obliterates all reason
all empathy, all hope for change
repressing a people, raping their fate
amputating souls, and massacring their faith
in a nation that can no longer be ours to claim
ravaging a house and calling it a home
kidnapping dreams, filling it will sorrow
But no... I am not hopeless,
I carry my home in this chest
and I will march on and march on
with the rest
I am 6 million strong
neglected and diluted by 6.9 billion others
and I am calling on you,
to stand by me, by your sisters and brothers.
Hear my voice, find me...
because I am lost
in a desert in North Africa
Hear my voice, find me....
I am not lost....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt's pivotal moment

Good Morning,
I've been sitting on my hands, trying to control all the thoughts I've wanted to type out onto my blog considering what's been going on around the Middle East. There is a movement, an air for change. This air for change was very different than America's when Obama's slogan was 'change' or 'yes we can'. This is a pivotal moment where the Arab world (or more specifically Egypt) can experience a collective paradigm shift. This is a much needed political paradigm shift, within the masses, not the "leaders" (although new leadership is a must, at all levels of government).

So, what am I trying to express? The Arab world, and the forerunner Egyptian state, has often been led by repressive, oppressive, and suppressive individuals. The people have just 'sucked it up' for quite a while. When I say 'quite a while', I mean, for a loooooooooooong historical period, with moments and pockets of anomalies. This moment of protest can shift the people from being 'individual leader' centered to 'institution' or 'system' centered. I don't think that every government must look exactly like the United States. However, I do believe in the uniqueness and neutrality of the democratic institution. Democratic institutions have the ability to move, change, reform according to the needs of the collective will. Individual leaders come and go. Therefore, politics is not centered around a person (within an institution) but a set of values, an ideal, a specific mission and vision. I think the Egyptian people (and the Arab world) need to experience a paradigm shift, in which the 'individual' is not the focus politically. It is the collective will that prevails and a momentary leader who represents.

Well what needs to happen? Something soon. We don't want to see chaos, anarchy and witness a willful and determined people fall due to lack of order or security. The people need to organize. Find people to represent them, and come together in making a collective decision. I know, I know, easier said than done, given that they have a population of 80,000,000. But they must come together and do something. Foreign military intervention IS NOT an option. That will just lead to a repeat of Iraq, which cause more harm than good.

I stand by the collective will of Egyptians who would like to see positive democratic change in Egypt, the 'removal' of 'oppressors', who have an eye open for the common good. I hope peace, security, sincerity, order, returns to the people of Egypt.

"Good Night, and Good luck"

Monday, January 17, 2011

On recent political events

TUSCON Attacks

I couldn't have mentioned this issue any better
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-d-ellison/why-arent-we-calling-loug_b_806729.html?ref=fb&src=sp

----

Tunisia... is there revolution on the horizon?

It is scary what people can do in resistance to oppression. I recognize the greatness of MLK's example of non-violent resistance, but people around the world are frustrated and acting out (or lashing out) because they can't stand it anymore. Should someone take a non-violent resistance approach like MLK/Ghandi and others? Or should they make a clear statement of their dissatisfaction because of the oppression they may face like Muhammad Al Bouazizi.

----

Egypt's chicken or egg debate
I will begin this issue with the statement that regardless of the situation I do not condone or approve of violence in any way, shape or form. Yet, the reality is people REACT to things. It is a scary concept, but unfortunately it is a reality. There has been debate between Muslims and Copts of who started off the disputes and clashes in Egypt. The Muslims argue,well the Copts abducted a convert and imprisoned them within the church and they were conducting a 'rescue mission'. On the other hand, the Copts argue that they were attacked by Muslims, and will protest against those attacks. My question is, who cares who started it. I understand it's important. But until we decide to fix ourselves and do what we can (not control another) to change, violent disputes will continue to occur. Around the world: We need peace not war. We need happiness, not depression. We need construction, not destruction. We need enfranchisement, not repression. We need liberation, not oppression. We need to ensure a true egalitarian world. This can only happen when we move beyond violence, and start utilizing common grounds to in order to reconstruct a better society.

----
U.S. Troops in Japan????

Why oh why do we need troops in Japan??? I understand that the USA wants to make sure that North Korea doesn't lash out on the surrounding areas and run crazy. But more troops? More fighting? I say we bring our troops home! Not send them off to more conflict! Even if it's just patrolling. Our society is falling apart because families are being separated. Communities are being divided. People are fighting for abstract ideals that have no physical manifestation or meaning. Lives are being lost. I am so sick of warfare... Does that mean I'm a bad political scientist? Did Joseph Nye have it right? Should we be engaging in soft power, instead of hard power?
---

Baby Doc back in Haiti
Former dictator of Haiti recently returned after 15 years of exile. What will happen? Political crises? Conflict? or acceptance? who knows really? If I was Baby Doc, I'd never go back after seemingly corrupting a nation and its values. Unless maybe it was to beg for forgiveness....

---
Philippines.. the city of Atlantis

What is going on with the world today? Left and right, you hear of floods, earthquakes and so forth. Religious peoples (yes I categorized them in one big lump) have been claiming that these are signs of the last day. You know... that day... when everyone stands before god and gets judged. But no! It's not quite the last day! What will to the world? How are we helping the Filipino peoples??
---

There's a lot more world news. Just access the different news websites. You have CNN, BBC, AlJazeera, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and many others. Find out what's going on. Make connections. Where are we in the midst of it all?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yes Ma'am, praying, and cleaning

Well good morning.

So much has gone by in the last couple of months, I can hardly comprehend it all. I'm not about to list them all, because this semester has wrought so many changes, I have no idea where I would begin. So, I'm just gonna talk about the last three things that I've considered blogging about, but just didn't have the time to do.

YES MA'AM!

Apparently, I have a problem with saying 'yes' too much, or 'no' too little. I never realized I had this problem, before. Actually, it's almost as though, if I do not say yes, I am failing myself. I understand prioritization. I truly do. There are times where I will say no to people, and it will be like cutting off my left pinky toe, something that isn't really needed, but heavily painful. My problem is, that I will overload myself with so much work, and constantly tell myself "think of it as a temporary challenge" or "you know you can handle it", or something equally as 'motivating'. In the end, I can handle pretty much everything life throws at me. My friend growing up used to interpret the verse 'God does not burden a soul more than it can handle' as to meaning that sure, God will only dish out to you, what you're capable of. But humans can take on more than they can handle, and that's when it gets burdensome. So, maybe I'm taking on too much, maybe I'm not. The thing is, regardless of how much I take on, I feel like I always still have time for my family, friends, work, and acquaintances. I never feel like I don't have any free time. So, what's one more project in a string of projects. My friends (and sister) have told me I need an intervention... But I REFUSE... see, I can say 'no'! okay, okay, maybe I need to say no to people, but I see this as 'conditioning'. The more I can handle now, the more I can handle later. Or, actually, more accurately, the more I do now, the less I have to do later. I truly believe that. So, if I can handle so much, and still have time for my loved ones and alone time.... does that mean I'm saying 'yes' too much??? I think it means, that I am taking on exactly enough. I will never give up family time, friends time, community time, and alone time. I believe in giving each their right. So, yes... I can say 'no'.... but I say yes, a lot too.... but it boils down to what I am saying yes to.



What am I saying yes to? Well, anything that has some potential value that can be nurtured. Research, yeah okay. Hanging out with friends, okay. Reading 15 novels in a row, okay. Watching a marathon, okay. I just do things. Sometimes I do a cost-benefit analysis. I mean, I was going to work on a HUGE international research project last summer, and in the end I decided not to, even though I got accepted. I said no to pharmacy school, my #1 college choice, even though I was guaranteed a spot when I applied like 6-7 years ago. There are so many things I've said no to. I say no to injustice. I say no to abuse. I say no to oppression. I say no ignorance. I say no to inaction. There is so much I say no to every day, and in lieu I say yes to other things.

So, maybe I don't have a yes or no problem. Maybe, what I have is a 'letting people know how much I am doing' problem. Maybe, if I can handle so much, I don't have to tell people about my decisions... Just do things, regardless of telling people. My mom doesn't need to know that I went jogging that morning. My sister doesn't need to know I vacuumed the house. My brother doesn't need to know I bought the cat food. My coworkers don't need to know that I volunteer at different places. My dad doesn't need to know about my latest research project. My friends don't need to know about the newest political book I read. and so forth.

But then, what do you talk about? If everyone is giving updates, or asking you questions, what answer do you give? hmmmmmmmm..... I'm not really sure. Do you withhold information, so you don't have to hear people's thoughts about your actions? Or do you say what it may be, so that you share a piece of yourself with the people surrounding you? I honestly don't know. These thoughts have been revolving around my head for the last couple of weeks or so, and clearly, they are cyclical in nature. :X

Okay, well if you have any advice on that one, please post!

--

So, I said 3 things. I posted the first which was about the yes/no stuff... It ended up being a lot longer than I initially intended, and I try not to edit my posts. I let them be a stream of thought, just as my brain normally works. Anyhow, my second thing to post about.


Morning Prayers

I was at the mosque for the morning prayer last Friday, around 6:45am. With me were two other sisters. One of African descent, I believe from Ghana and another of South Asian descent, I believe from India. We were standing in the women's prayer hall, silently following the congregation. It was beautiful. Three women from three different backgrounds, in three different age groups, with probably three totally different mentalities, praying together in silence. It was a delicate, divine, and dazzling experience. The imam's voice wrapped around us, deep, reverberating, calm, almost a sense of serene stillness. We were being led in the motions of prayer, and it was utterly beautiful. I don't know how else to describe it.

---

Need to clean.

I have never realized how much of a clean freak I am.




Ever since my mom left the country, I realized how much she did to keep the house together. She would do things, like vacuum daily, and we would tell her, mom you're over doing things. Lo and Behold! I am sweeping daily, because the house just gets that messy. I'm coming to realize, after living with 4 other roommates, that people aren't necessarily as clean as you are, they have higher tolerance to messiness. And when you have a family of your own, you need to train and delegate those cleaning tasks to your children from a young age, to normalize the cleaning process. That is, if you don't want to live in filth. But most of all, you need to lay out your expectations and standards to those who you are currently living with (whether they are parents, siblings, or roommates). They need to hear what you have you say; similarly, you need to do the same. Recognize, each others values and standards of comfort and try to accommodate each others' needs, without overly sacrificing your own.

So, roomies, if you're reading this.... I am about to bring it full force for the new semester. I cannot live in crumbs... I just can't. My sanity and productivity depends on it!

So, those were my three posts, combined into one....

Enjoy!

oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!