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


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"