Friday, February 5, 2016

Love Vignette 1: The Strategic Valentine


I fully intended to be here more often, but I'm not. Alas, the real world and the realities of preparing to marry (namely the building the relationship part, not wedding plans in the least) have sucked me dry of late--of time, not of inspiration. There are so many thoughts I have and so many things that I want to write. So, at this hour, I am sacrificing sleep in favor of my favorite art form...

...yes, even more favorite than music, somehow...

But I can't bring myself to write anything of substance about the state of the world, about politics, about Black Lives Matter, about mass incarceration, about the Flint water crisis, about ISIS, about the refugee crisis...about the various topics that are important to me and swimming around my head right now.

So instead, I will ease myself back into blogging by posting these little Love Vignettes.

I've started easing my fiancé in by telling him stories about guys I've crushed on over the years--one, to assure him he's got no competition. But also to give him a sense of why and how I love. And in telling him these stories, it's reminded me of some of my favorite stories of childhood crushes. Some of the stories are cute. So, in honor of Valentine's Day approaching and my the impending 31st anniversary of my circling the sun (aA), I'm going to share with you some Love Vignettes.

In no particular order.

This one, for Valentine's Day - The Strategic Valentine.

Before I would fall in love for the first time, I had crushes pretty much every year of kindergarten and elementary school. I had my first crush when I was five years old in kindergarten. His name was Terry. I liked him simply because he was cute. With each year, I would fall in like with a boy for a slightly more nuanced reason. By first grade, though, I hadn't gotten that far.

By the first grade, Terry went to another school. Our kindergarten was district-wide, so all of the kindergarteners of the five elementary school district attended school in one building, Thurston Early Childhood Development Center (Thurston ECDC). Graduating from kindergarten meant going to a new school. So it was in Ms. Miller's first grade class that I would meet my next crush, Darryl.

My like for Darryl would begin a years-long preference for husky or chubby men--one that has not borne out in my present relationship, but that's a different story.

Darryl was a husky little boy. Looking back, he probably was prescribed a steroid inhaler for asthma. Or maybe he was just husky. He was in good company, because I was a chubby little girl. I liked him because he was bigger than the other boys. Bigger and a little bit brusk.

I don't think there was very much more to it than that.

Heaven for me was this one time when we were on a field trip to the Henry Ford Museum, which we lovingly called Greenfield Village, though we never spent time in the actual village, and I got to sit next to him on the bus. And we fell asleep on each other! When he woke me as we arrived to Greenfield Village, I tried to act like I was annoyed with him so he wouldn't guess that I reveled in every minute we lay on each other.

Yes, I was six.

Love as a child can be real and complex, but there is something about being a child that makes it forbidden to be out in the open. It would have mortified me for anyone, especially Darryl, to know. I kept it to myself. Most days it was easy. It wasn't like I swooned from afar. It was enough that I knew that I liked him, it was my own little secret, and I was satisfied with that. I didn't have to do anything with that, we didn't have to become an item, nothing like that. It was what it was.

That is, until Valentine's day.

As an almost 8 year old in the second grade, Darryl was still in my class. I realized that Valentine's Day may blow my cover. I don't know if a note went home with all of the kids, but all of our parents bought valentines enough for the whole class and addressed them to the whole class. The best valentines of elementary school were those that included a sucker or some other sizable piece of candy along with them. Or one of those boxes of chalky Valentine's candy. The message was dispensable.

I was advanced enough at that age to help my mother write out the valentines and assemble them. Or maybe I volunteered to help, because I had to do damage control. Darryl couldn't know that I liked him. Therefore, I had to make sure he didn't get a valentine from me that said something like, "I love you," or, "I like you," or something obvious. I didn't want it to be a thing.

So, I poured over the stack of valentines that my mother bought and found one that I thought was pretty generic and innocent such that no one would have any suspicion about my intent. I felt proud of myself and relieved that my secret was safe with me.

Then I got to school. I passed the valentine's out to my friends in class. I got to his desk and put his valentine down and said nothing. As I walked away, I heard him laugh.

"Hey, this is cool! I like this! Hey, look!" he beckoned to his friend sitting next to him. Shoot, shoot, had backfired. What happened? Who would have thought he'd pay any attention to a valentine with a dolphin on it?

"Look at this. It says, 'I flip over you!' Isn't that cool? I flip over you."

I buried my head in the desk, mortified, wishing he'd stop reading it aloud.

My valentine to Darryl that I hand picked precisely so he'd have no idea that I liked him ended up being his favorite out of the 20-some kids in class. Probably because it was the only valentine so painstakingly chosen.

But, little did I know, he would never know that I liked him. He'd have no idea. A smart boy would begin to suspect it after he noticed a girl made effort to sit next to him on the bus so she could press her legs next to him and lie on him.

But no, he was an average boy, and average boys have no clue about those things.

I moved on to a boy named Michael in the third grade, who I liked not only for his looks, but because he was smart (I was getting there!). But not again until Kenneth in the fifth grade would I be so mortified at the possibility of someone knowing that I liked a boy.

...though I would continue to keep crushes secret until I was 25 years old.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Worst Kind of Terrorists


I vacillated about whether or not I should make this entry, as I try to keep this space as apolitical as possible for one thing, and for another, I don't like to write stream-of-consciousness pieces for something that I could research and on which I could write a proper dissertation.

And I feel that way for most political topics, current events, news, etc.

But I've been sitting back these last couple of days since the San Bernardino terrorist attack, watching people stew and seep, boil and burn, cry and fret about what this country is coming to, what it all means, whether this is terrorism or not, what terrorism is.

I've seen fellow Muslims hesitate to call this terrorism, wish (as we all do) that it's not terrorism--by which we mean, we wish it's not someone carrying out an attack in the name of our religion.

But those same people, just days before with the Colorado Springs shooting, hastened to call that shooter a terrorist--and he is. And that was a terrorist attack.

As of December 2, we had 355 mass shootings in this country, more than days we've had in this year so far. Many of them, if not all of them, I consider to be acts of terror. For me, terrorism is simple--acts of violence aimed at killing and maiming multiple people and to, in general, cause chaos within communities and societies.

For state purposes, terrorism is often defined as such violent acts that have a political, religious or ideological significance or, by some definitions, are carried out in affiliation with larger organizations.

And this is why, if I am as diplomatic as I can be, Muslim mass murderers are labeled as terrorists and lone-wolf white mass murderers are not.

The question of affiliation with larger organizations is one for another time. For example, how loosely does a white mass murderer have to be affiliated to, say, a white supremacist group before being considered a terrorist because of this affiliation?

Again, I consider all mass murders terrorists by my definition, so this is moot to me.

But, if what we have been told about the shooters in San Bernardino is true, then they are the worst kind of terrorists I have ever seen. It is absolutely horrifying. The flagrant disregard for human life, the indiscriminant killing of men and women of all ages, the mundane venue--a company holiday party at a rented space in a social services building.

How many of us have gone to our company's holiday parties, hackneyed Christmas classics playing softly in the background, people milling around, nibbling on dessert for too long and being embarrassed for someone who got uncharacteristically drunk and loud? Can you imagine going there and dying? Can you imagine the people around you dropping dead? How terrible!

Each story is heartbreaking. Understatement.

That, of course, makes me the most sad and the most angry.

What also makes me angry is that, because of these devils, the moderate Muslim defense doesn't exist anymore.

What do I mean by that? The perpetrators seemed like--and perhaps, for a good while, were--the "moderate Muslim" archetype. Professionals, integrated into their community, seemingly responsible citizens, married with a baby. And then, they spontaneously radicalized.

It's insidious. It reminds me of what family members and friends of the Paris assailants said, that six months prior to the attacks, they stopped drinking and started praying.

Prayer now seems a sinister act...

...though, I guess it always could be.

Muslims are being stopped in subways by passengers believing their laptops are bombs. People in town halls blurt out that "all Muslims are terrorists." A Sikh woman on a Delta flight is made to show her breast pump so a wary passenger is at ease that she is not carrying a bomb. People are being put off flights for speaking Arabic or being visibly Muslim.

Being Muslim right now is different than it was post 9/11. Post 9/11, there was an unspoken other. We were American Muslims. We had no ties to these radical groups in the East "jumping through flaming hoola-hoops," as my mother once put it. And their targets were big and symbolic. I remember, as the 16-year-old I was in 2001, scoffing at the security measures at local stadiums. I cried when I was made to throw away my purse at a game. "Why would terrorists want to attack a college football game?" Why would they target Nowheresville, USA? And for years, that remained true, and I felt justified at dismissing some of the lingering fears as Michael Moore did, as a white American culture of fear.

I think the fear is legitimate now. Conspiracy theorists, like they did post 9/11, are running rampant, but the fact of the matter remains--people really got shot and people really died at an everyday venue, horrendously at what should have been a time of casual celebration.

In the eyes of the public, every Muslim is suspect. There are no such thing as moderate Muslims. Any could radicalize at any time. Once again, "See something, say something" targets Muslims and apparent Muslims, brown people and people who cover their hair with scarves and turbans.

These terrorists are the worst kind because they took lives, shattered families, terrified a community, and made things worse for the peaceful majority of Muslim people in America, heightening their exposure to discrimination, hatred and possible violence.

I do wonder what's become of my country, that mass shootings are so commonplace and so many of us have become so flippant about death until, perhaps, it personally touches us. And just today I began to wonder, as staunchly as I am for gun control (to the point where I am like, yes, someone should take your guns!), if the problem is not other. If it lies in the fabric of who we are as Americans, who we purport to be, and who we actually are.

But besides that, I am at a loss. I don't know what to do, like none of us does, but I do know what not to do.

As a Muslim, I am mortified by every act of violence that is carried out by a Muslim, more than I cringe at ever instance of so-called "black-on-black violence." We can say that these people aren't really Muslim, we can say that what they're following isn't really Islam, we can point out every Muslim that was killed by them and every Muslim hero who saved those around them.

We can condemn every act carried out by people with "Muslim names" before terrorism is formally identified as a motive.

But this doesn't take away the fact that, for some reason and at this time, organizations and individuals are interpreting our texts and our message for the purpose of evil and mass slaughter.

They are certainly not the only ones using a faith to commit atrocities. There are terrorists who draw some sort of twisted inspiration from every religion. But the terrorists who use our faith are center stage now.

A vociferous and murderous minority is successfully defiling our religion in a public arena.

This is not time to sit back and state that this is a sign of the end times, because every day, we're still here. End times is clearly not right now.

So, now--what?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Never Existed Again, the Prequel


I was just going through a journal of mine from when I was 19 years old and read a paragraph that really exemplified the whole "I never existed again" thing, 4 years before I would hear the Djavan song that would give meaning to the feeling I had. And this was only the beginning of me feeling this way. I had not known MQ for a year yet, and I was already falling into the obsession circuit in my brain.

Anything in brackets are edits I've made in retrospect. This was written in January, 2004. Emphasis, with the bold, was also added by me later.

I think it was last Thursday, so Thursday, January 6. It was the first time I had my Spanish class with Sra. Highfill (and wow, I just suddenly had déjà vu with her and her class…like I’d been there before or something).  Anyway, a girl came in named Sarwat.  I had seen her on thefacebook before, back when I was looking up stuff on Azmat…who didn’t end up pairing up with [MQ] at all.  It was just me being silly…again.

Anyway, Sarwat came in, and for whatever reason, I just thought of [MQ] whenever I looked at her.  Okay, it was obvious why I did…I was thinking about the whole culture thing, and if, for him to ever really consider me, that’s what I would have to be…Desi, Pakistani, whatever…and I never would be…well, obviously.  But yes, I thought about that, and then I started thinking back to him, and all the silly little conversations we had… And that progressed, until I thought about him all day.  And then that kid who’s in my Biochemistry discussion and apparently living in South Quad, Ajay…he reminded me of him, too.  And I would see back of heads [around me in class], and I would get startled when [those backs of heads] looked slightly like [his], and almost wanted to close my eyes and run away in case the head turned around and it was him…

It was something like that, not so eloquently.  And I realized at the end of the day that the whole thing was ridiculous.  I hadn’t seen him since November, and now it’s January, and I hadn’t really spoken to him since we did in the summer, and that was kind of shitty in itself, and I was still nervous to come anywhere close to him, even if it was second hand through his friend Sarwat, who never mentioned him...

[...] as she looked at me as I pronounced my name [for the professor in class], I’d wondered if perhaps she’d heard that name before…and for what reason she would have heard it. [Maybe she'd heard about this girl from him, this girl that was obsessed with him].  Or if it was from the back of random people’s heads that kind of looked like his…I just realized it was getting out of hand, and that I’d spent more time that day thinking of him than thinking of anything that had to do with me.

And I started to wonder how much of myself I had lost in the process of being in love with him.  Yes, I may not have ever gotten him, but I was in love with him, and I wanted him, and I thought that if we worked together, I could marry him…all of that foolishness.  But I wondered how much of myself I lost.  I thought I was losing my personality by being so stuck on him  But maybe that wasn’t the case at all.  Maybe, in the beginning of this whole ordeal, I didn’t have that much personality to begin with.  Not as much as I thought I had.

This was remarkable for me to read. In that last paragraph especially, it's like I couldn't even remember who I had been before there was him. I go on to write about how my first journal entry began with me musing about the my teenaged crush, Corey, and I wondered how many legitimate thoughts had I had that were not about some male.

Another (perhaps) remarkable thing is that my writing hasn't changed so very much in the last 11 years. I'd like to think I'm a slightly better writer now, and definitely the content is more mature now, but oh well.

I'm, in general, stunned by how naïve I was...11 years is a lot. I ended this entry thinking about taking out loans to take an MCAT class. That's how long ago that was. That was a more than 4 years of medical school, 1 year of public health school and 3 years of residency ago. Wow!

And it's also incredible how you can lose yourself in someone who in the end has nothing to do with you...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"It Wasn't Meant to Be" Takes New Meaning


"It wasn't meant to be."

Intellectually, I could get with that, but emotionally, I could not. As a several-year sufferer of unrequited love for much of my young adult years, the phrase seemed cruel, a hackneyed trope offered by people who didn't have answers but were well-meaning nonetheless.

Years after getting over the love that never would be, I still couldn't really understand that. Yes, obviously it was not meant to be, because here I am and there he is, living two separate lives, probably never chancing to meet again and, because of Facebook, I know too much.

My last entry shows how I couldn't understand it.

And to be clear, part of me will still wonder. There were so many signs that I interpreted as meaning we would end up together after pointed and plaintive prayers. These signs from hearing a random string quartet practice the wedding march in my dorm to him being down the hall in my friend's dorm, hearing me as I cried. Why would God tease me with these signs if we were, in fact, never meant to be.

Because we weren't. We existed in each others' lives exactly as we should have.

Before I fell for him, I had prayed specifically that I would not do such a thing. I prayed to God not to allow me to fall for a man who was not meant for me. But I did.

Most other prayers I have prayed in my life have been answered, from small things like praying that the rain would let up so I could take pictures for a summer project in high school, to big things like medical school acceptances and residency matches. But my faith remained shaken after the man I prayed for so long would be my future husband ended up to be someone else's.

I used to wonder why, and then for a long time, I gave up. I just didn't think about it. I reasoned, there are probably people who pray for more important things, like being able to feed their child, or to save their dying spouse from the wrath of disease, or any other number of situations who are now sitting on the other side of things, wondering why their prayers weren't answered. For me, the only thing not answered for me is that some dude I had a crush on in college didn't like me back. Big deal.

But then, thinking about the turmoil my fiancé has had to go through because of his family's disapproval of me, I realize something...

...well, for one, it likely would have been several times worse with my college crush. My fiancé has a small family. My college crush had a large family that was apparently invested in him ending up with someone from their own community. And that he did, and their families get along well.

Whereas, my future in-laws will likely have little contact with me...thankfully, as the case were.

I would love to be part of a family that loved me as I feel I deserve to be loved as an excellent future-partner to their beloved son, but it looks like I'm not going to...just as I was prepared was a distinct possibility with my college crush.

I said I was ready for anything back then, now I get to eat my words. It is hard. It's harder to see your fiancé essentially disowned from his family.

But more than realizing that, rationally, it was not meant to be, I also recognize that...sometimes, even if certain traits line up, there is mutual attraction, interest, wasn't meant to be.

Yes, so many other prayers in my life have been answered, and easily. Of course this prayer would be the hardest. Yes, I have a friend who claims she prayed to find a husband and then met her husband the next day, but a lot happened before he became her husband that did not seal that prayer as answered for her. She made it sound easy, but it wasn't.

It's easy when a prayer only involves you, or your personal protection, or something like that. It's easy when a prayer is about a career path, or a housing option, or safety on road or in the air while one travels. It's not easy when a prayer involves a whole other human being who is just as complex as you are, with their own desires, needs and prayers.

The man that you see who you decide must be the future husband of your prayer and desire may have congruent desires but perhaps incongruent needs, for example. People are not ready to order. I have yet to hear anyone say that someone came and was perfectly equipped to be their future spouse when they met them.

So as much as I may have loved my college crush, I could not pray him into being for me. As much as I felt I could "deal with everything going through [his] head," I was never in his head. We existed together in the same realm for just a little bit. His path was other, and I had to steer away. It wasn't meant to be.

Relationship prayers are the hardest to pray and the hardest with which to wait for the answer. The answer is sometimes quite unexpected. Whenever our desires and prayers are directed at a thing that necessarily involves another complete human being, so many things have to line up to make it work. And while certainly nothing is impossible with God, it will take a little bit more time than...driving under a bridge to see the rain stop instantly to allow you to do your high school summer project.

So for me, it wasn't meant to be takes on new meaning. It's no longer hackneyed and frustrating. It's a simple truth. It's not a term of resignation; it reminds me of my submission. Submission to the Truth.  For all I prayed, God knew that my college crush was not actually who I thought he was or what I wanted, and if he was, he knew that I was not what he needed. It was never a prayer unanswered. It was a prayer answered, but I didn't leave space or understanding of that being possibly the answer.

And with the tincture of time and experience and the prospect of assuming a family name of a family that will have nothing to do with me, I see...I come to understand. Love can conquer much but you have to decide if it's worth it.

In terms of the signs I got after pointed prayers...I still don't understand those. Maybe it's like the movie Mr. Nobody, and I could have lived a life where I ended up with my college crush if I took precise actions earlier on, actions I was not ready to take at 19. Maybe that piece has some meaning that I'll uncover later in my life. This little epiphany about the whole situation only took 11 years, after all.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Never Existed Again


Me apaixonei?
Talvez, pode ser
Não sei, nunca vi
Preciso sair
Depois que eu descobri
Que há você
Nunca mais existi

I fell in love?
Maybe, it could be
I went crazy?
I don't know, I've never been there
I need to get out
After I discovered
That there is you
I never existed again.

I told the story of this song before. How I heard this song on my "Haiti" playlist on Pandora in 2008, how I excitedly ordered a CD imported from Brasil with the song on it since I couldn't download it on the internet, how I read the insert in the CD to find a translation of the song, and how I realized that the song put into words what I could not.

I fell in love with a man and then I never existed again.

Alas, the very thing I prayed to God wouldn't happened had happened. I fell in love with a man who would not be mine. Why? Why would God allow it?

Over 11 years later, I still don't know. But this song reminds me of that place.

No song that exists on earth speaks to me more than this one. No artist has more quickly become my favorite than Djavan for the fact that he wrote this song. Talk about killing me softly.

There was a time where I couldn't complete a task without thinking about how this man would be proud of me, as he said he was. Proud of how smart I was, amazed at how smart I was. "I amazed him," he told me once. I had never been admired so brightly and so earnestly by a man. It had to be love.

I was so convinced and he was so emblazoned into my person for years that the best way that I could put it is that I wasn't myself anymore. The me that I was before had stopped existing. I became other. And I never existed again.

I was never the same. I have not existed again. He's since married the woman I knew he would end up with. Years after I was over him, his wife came to me in a dream, and described what he was like at their wedding.

I did not know until days later that I dreamed of her on the day they married. I would later see a Facebook post in which she described him exactly as she described him to me in my dream--serious in the face of his upcoming responsibility as a married man.

It's been 11 years since I first fell for him, and I've moved on. We are at two opposite sides of the country living separate and completely full lives, but I had to dream about him to congratulate him on his son. I hadn't dreamed of him in years, but I guess that was an occasion.

In every manifestation of his life, I can now see that he was meant for her, and she was meant for him. I don't know why I ever came into the picture and interrupted destiny. And I don't mean that to be self-deprecating, because the whole thing sure as hell interrupted my life.

The piece in the anthology only tells part of the story. I was too shy to write about the raw obsession and the pain of disillusionment when I found out he had no idea that I liked him, let alone that I stopped existing because of him.

The best that I can say did come out of the whole experience in the manuscript that I'm gearing up to edit.

I can't believe it's been 11 years. We were two different people then. Now, we're doctors. He has a family, and I'm at the precipice of marrying, at least I hope. When we met, we had no idea where we'd be, what we'd be able to do. We were just two nerdy kids in an organic chemistry class.

He didn't know a black girl could be so smart. I didn't know that the annoying, boisterous kid who I dreaded seeing in class every week would change my life.

The me before I met him never existed again. I wanted that someone who felt so important in my life to remain in my life, but only God knows.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Without Shame or Patronization

As salaam alaikum,

I'm baaaaaacckk!

Apparently, when I finished residency and took a 2 month vacay before returning to work, so did my brain take a vacation.

But really, life has gotten busy, I had a lot of things to do in preparation for my new job as an attending and a non-resident PCP, and I've been knee-deep in my own spiritual journey, which has taken a much more personal spin such that I haven't been writing very much about it on the blog.

But I just had an epiphany that I thought would bring me back into the world of blogging.

I know what I want in a mate now.

Let's rephrase. I know what I want in a Muslim mate now.

No, I am not again single and my SO is the same. Born Muslim in a communist culture and I wouldn't even call him nominal at this point.

He grew up to think that all a Muslim had to do was fast the Night of Power and that would satisfy the entire month's fast. That is who my SO is.

But he came to be my SO because--I was afraid that I couldn't be Muslim married and he was the closest thing I thought I could get to it.

But this is not going to be about my SO. This is more about me and my epiphany.

There was something that seemed impossible, intimidating, and admittedly undesirable about getting Muslim married. Namely, I never obtained a wali, so the process was sketchy and I felt unprotected, making up an online dating profile and searching for eligible Muslim men in a list of unknowns. Or, I could obtain a wali who may or may not have my best interests at heart and certainly would not be my Christian father. Neither option sounded secure.

And besides, I was unsure if that was what I really wanted. Like, of course I'd love a husband I could pray with, who was at a similar level of practice as me, but that didn't feel like what I really wanted.

And then, as I was going through the motions of a personal exercise of fleshing out what my ideal self would look like (religiously, spiritually and physically were the realms that I wanted to idealize), I wrote out a sentence that described exactly what I was looking for:

"I'd love to have a partner whose Islam inspires me and doesn't shame me."

After which I wrote, I think this is it. I think that is what I want.

...before realizing, oh my gosh, this is exactly what I want and have always wanted!

I added to it later, adding that I did not want to be patronized, either.

I liken it to training and running a race. Of course, one can do both of these alone, or they could have a buddy. If the buddy's pace is faster or the buddy's form is better, I'd be the one to prefer to jog behind my buddy and be inspired by his pace and form. Maybe my buddy would give me a few tips if I asked or if he saw me doing something to hurt myself.

My buddy wouldn't taunt me for my pace, push me to go faster than I was ready to go, or give me unsolicited advice as if presuming incompetence. He wouldn't ask me how have I been alive this long and never run X distance.

Similarly, my partner in Islam may be ahead of me in some aspects, but I would pray for the type of partner that wouldn't shame me for ways in which he felt my Islam "deficient" and wouldn't be patronizing in our discourse.

And that, I think, is everything. That describes my fears and my hopes.

Because really, my ideal partner doesn't have a body type or hair color. This is who he is, written in that one line above. That is what I want.

Let's worship free of shaming, patronizing and judgment. Let's inspire each other instead as we join together in the mutual teaching of truth, as it were.

Monday, June 29, 2015

No longer a resident

As salaam alaikum,

I've been busy but not busy, if that makes any sense. I've been mentally and emotionally busy, preparing myself for graduation for residency. This included taking (and passing, alhamdulillah) my boards, getting my work schedule arranged for when I start my new job in September, tidying things up for my patients before I hand them off to the new resident, moving...

Ya girl's been busy.

There is also a lot of background noise right now, honestly, that has gone on for the last three years. My faith has been challenged in a very specific way that I have not shared on this blog, because it is a moment in progress. When this metamorphosis of sorts is complete, I will speak more openly and frankly about it. For now, sorry, you just get tidbits.

But alhamdulillah, I have completed residency and I am now a family physician practicing family medicine with obstetrics. This morning, getting up and not going to clinic, I felt starkly naked in a way I never have before in my life. I said at first that I felt naked because I was no longer a resident, but in truth, I've been a resident for only 3 years. It seems like nothing and it seems like forever at the same time.

I gaze at pictures of my co-residents and feel like I miss them already and that I never truly got to know them at the same time. They are a group of 11 people that I love and with whom I have experienced something unique that will not replicate. I feel like I've known them forever and for not that long at the same time. They are excellent people and I hope we continue our road to excellence.

I went in three years from being an insecure medical school graduate, not ready to embrace myself as a physician, to a board certified family physician with no insecurities about my capabilities. Again, alhamdulillah.

This moment, however, reminds me of a song Elis Regina sang, called, "20 Anos Blues."

Ontem de manhã quando acordei / olhei a vida e me espantei. / Eu tenho mais que vinte anos. / Eu tenho mais que mil perguntas sem respostas. / Estou ligada a um futuro blue.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I looked at life and I startled myself. I am more than 20 years old. I have more than a thousand questions without answers. I'm tied to a blue future.

And while I do not believe I'm tied to a blue future, there were all of those ways, over the past few years, that I realized that I was not my 20 year old self. I am not who I was when I began this journey to be a physician, to be a better Muslimah, to make my own contribution to social justice.

I'm not 20 years old anymore. My grandfather is not on this earth anymore and my brother is an adult with autism who is unemployed, unskilled for most vocations and lives at home with my aging parents. I am a family physician continuing a very separate life on the West Coast, away from my aging parents and away from my brother. My personal life bears harsh realities that I did acknowledge, in a highly dramatized form at 20 years old, but that are more eminent now, as I begin to make plans for marriage and a family of my own.

At the same time, I'm not 20 years old anymore and I don't look for ways to save the world at every turn, in every crevice and with every issue. I'm looking for very specific ways I can make an impact in matters that I care most about and that I know most about.

I'm not 20 and I'm not premed, I'm a family physician. I don't love a man absently who I have no access to, I love one who is here, on earth, with me, who is not a character I created but a real man who doesn't always follow the ideal script for our lives but who is here regardless. I don't look outward for my Muslim identity, I look inward.

So I begin this two months off before starting work period resuming Ramadan (Ramadan Mubarak to all) after the Feminine Interruption. I return to focusing on The Compassionate.