Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Restless Soul

As salaam alaikum,

My soul is a vagabond, my spirit is a wanderer.

I can't stay put, I can't stop myself. I feel like I'm running through a narrow corridor, throwing myself at every open door, thrusting myself through those same doors, disappointed often about what's on the other side. I'm running still, for the end of the corridor, because before the end, there'll be some promise. I want to find a home, or at least a place to plant my feet for a while.

Where did this come from? I'm listening to "Encontros e Despedidas" by Maria Rita. That's what that song makes me feel like.

I am a restless soul, though, I realize. It's not necessarily a bad keeps me ambitious, working towards the next feat at all times. But I think it causes me to devalue myself a little, devalue my efforts. I look at what I've done so far in life as easy, but so many times, it wasn't. I've actually prayed hard and worked hard to get where I am today, but so often I engage this revisionist history as I look back on my life and say, "It was by the grace of God that I stumbled into medical school, stumbled into Harvard, happened upon this path." I may not have always intended to go to Harvard for medical school, but the whole application process, my undergraduate and high school education leading up to this point, has always been deliberate. I've never haphazardly made decisions. I'm not haphazard at anything. A lot of thought and prayer goes into every decision I make.

Am I still privileged and blessed? Yes. Allah (swt) guided me at times when I would have made the wrong decision, where I very well could have made the mistake of my life. But I'll destroy myself if I don't acknowledge the work that went into this.

Maybe then being such the restless soul that I am will feel better. Maybe then I can feel as if I'm running more purposefully toward my future, and not tripping forward, ambling forward, because I've never been one to step other than deliberately.

I just need to know where I'm going.

I just need to know that I can have what I want. I think I can, insha'Allah.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Deve Ser (It Must Be)

As salaam alaikum,

So, nothing really to post about. I realize that, for anyone who attempts to follow my blogs, I probably post a lot, too much for anyone to keep up with. I just can't keep myself from writing something sometimes!

I just wanted to share with you "Deve Ser" by Jorge Vercilo. It's one of my favorite songs from the last novela I watched, "Viver a Vida," with my favorite couple, Bruno (Thiago Lacerda) and Helena (Taís Araujo). The lovely Ms. Araujo is pictured in the youtube clip.

Heh, by the way, I like the names of the actors so much, I might name my kids that...not after the actors specifically (I briefly tutored a 12-year-old Brazilian girl named Thais, and I liked the name then), but just because they're cool names.

If I had a twin, a boy and a girl, it'd be a toss up between naming them Thiago and Thais or Hasna and Hassan. Hahaha, I'm not very creative, I know...

Anyway, that's the music for the day...well, I guess I'll translate it...with poetic liscense, of course...

It must be
Like discovering an island inside of me
It's a sign that it would be like this
To begin to love you

It must be
Like the beginning of a fascination
Like the power of a revolution
To be touched by you

Because it was just like that
Just like springtime to sleep by your side
Because it was for me
Pure fantasy to reflect myself in your lips

It must be
Like, suddenly, the sky opening
Like seeing what I didn't at first perceive
To begin to love you

It must be
Like being blessed without knowing
Nor imagine ever deserving
Being loved by you

Because it was just like that
Just like springtime to sleep by your side
Because it was for me
Pure fantasy to reflect myself in your lips

Gorgeous lyrics! It fit so well with the novela, too.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trying to Figure Life Out

As salaam alaikum,

Yes, I am currently trying to figure life out...not life in general, just my life. I'm trying to make sense of it all. I feel like I'm rapidly cycling through moods and turning points and I don't know when it's all going to end. When I arrive at the answer, I guess. I don't know.

It's a weird feeling right now. I feel like I've been flying for a while before I recognized that I could fly. And then, once I did, I soared for a bit before becoming nervous about my falling, feeling precarious at such high heights with the fear of falling to my death at intervals, freaking out when hitting bumpy air with that startled feeling. I'm flying and I have a bit of an idea about where I'm going, what it's like, but I don't really know where I'm going or where I'll end up.

I think that's a fair metaphor.

I've got everything I need to go where I want to go in life, to achieve my wildest dreams, and I know this...I guess I'm afraid because things have been too easy.

I mean, relatively easy. I did study for four months for an 8 hour exam last year, the final month studying 12-14 hours daily, and third year of medical school has been the most difficult thing I've done in life up to this point, not to mention getting into medical school, getting the grades necessary in college to get into medical school, the high school grades needed to get into a good college, etc. It's been a long, hard-working road. I guess I'm talking in terms of the opportunities I've had in life and education...those opportunities have been limitless. There has not been anything that I really wanted to do that I haven't gotten to do, any place where I really want to go that I haven't gotten to go with relative ease...well, once again, with work, but still, pretty much given the opportunity, I prayerfully go forward to achieve what I need. Alhamdulillah.

I guess I feel precarious about those things in life that I actually cannot work for, those things that just happen. Not just relationships, but tragedy as well. Tragedy, hardship, struggle, loss, those things we are promised that will befall us. And sure, I've had struggle in life...growing up with a brother with autism was one of the first hard things he and I faced together as kids, he still faces on a daily basis, who he is, what others think of him and his frustration at times when he's not understood. It was only second-hand for me.

How I feel about life right now...I feel like I've been flying a relatively smooth flight, but it's summer, and the air is hot, so the flight is a little bumpy. I've been tolerating the bumps fine, they've been minor, but I'm afraid of a moment when suddenly the plane dips a bit, those times when I'll grab hold to the arm rest, my stomach tight. Those moments where even though I tell myself that millions of planes take off and land without incident in this country every year, I still get that tight feeling in my stomach as if the plane will drop and drop and crash.

The dips are never that bad once I've gone through them.

But I'm freaking out a little on the inside about life, and those things that I can't control. Those things have the potential to be the most beautiful things in life, and they probably will be, probably, like, the inspiration for the characters of many more stories that I write, but is so scary sometimes, I wish I could figure out a hint, a key, something, to set my mind and heart at ease.

These are the thoughts and words of a woman who has overcome grand disillusionment of her own creation, trying to find another reality in which to understand life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Get Ready for Me, Love, 'Cause I'm a Comer!

As salaam alaikum,

I encourage you to read my previous entry, "A Rose Much Desired," which is about the story I'm currently writing...A Rose Much Desired. Why? Because I'm shamelessly plugging, that's why. One of these days, I'll actually finish my first round of edits so I can actually finish this thing...

So, my roommate and I have finally found something to bond over...we've been watching "Glee" nightly. Last night, we watched at least three episodes back to back. We ended on the half-season finale, "Sectionals." Man, that show takes me back to my favorite part of high school (the only part I miss, actually) I ended high school in the symphony band, having participated in both concert band and concert orchestra in my time in the band. I pretty much stopped improving after junior year, though, and I put my clarinet aside to pursue my pre-medical education.

...but I'm still absolutely in love with performance. There's nothing like getting on stage as part of an ensemble, hearing how your part interacts with someone else's, hearing an end result that's different every time, depending on how many parts you have in your head at once. It's amazing.

Anyway, "Glee" actually does remind me of my high school experience, having come up in the Midwest. They gave shout outs to pop and Cedar Point, which my roommate knows nothing about.

I went to Cedar Point's website and found out that they haven't constructed any new rides since I was last there 7 years ago. Amazing...for a while, they had a new ride every year.

Anyway, in the episode "Sectionals," Lea Michele (as Rachel Berry) sings "Rain on My Parade," which was originally performed by Barbara Streisand in the Broadway musical and film "Funny Girl." And I listened to the actual lyrics of the song, and I thought, hey, this is actually a really good song.

By the way...I like musicals, a lot. I think I'm going to spend my entire summer watching musicals.

I read about Omar Sharif after I watched this clip. He co-starred with Barbara Streisand. I didn't realize that he was born Catholic and converted to Islam in 1955! That's super cool! Converts rule, and I'm not saying that because I come from a family of converts...or maybe I am!

"Get ready for me, love, 'cause I'm a comer! I simply got to march, my heart's a drummer..."

That's cool. I'm going to start saying that whenever anyting gets me down. I'm just going to keep going, every day...

Haha, I know it's really corny, but it's true, at least for me...


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Rose Much Desired

As salaam alaikum,

So, I'm going to give a synopsis of the story I'm writing, because I should be going to sleep as I have an exam exam I need to take and pass to graduate from medical school. As I used to say back in the day, oh joy of my being.

But, I'm not entirely sleepy yet, so I wanted to provide a brief synopsis of this story I keep alluding to, A Rose Much Desired.

Background. I came up with the story idea initially as a short story during my creative writing class senior year at Michigan. It was going to be a short story called "Agent" that gave an inside look into the relationship of two different Muslims from very different backgrounds, Mo and Nisreen.

With the encouragement of a friend, I did National Novel Writers' Month (NaNoWriMo) during November 2007 and fleshed out "Agent" into a three-narrator novel named A Rose Much Desired. Of the three narration is "Agent," which tells the perspective of Mo Ghazali, a 23-year-old college grad and premed student hoping to get into schools this application period who goes through a bit of a crisis mid-March when he still hasn't heard from any schools.

The story opens with the Agent narration, and it becomes apparent that Mo is intimately involved with a girl named Desirée. In order to understand their relationship, the "Desirée" narration takes Desirée Lamar first back to her freshman year when she first met Mo, then back to high school as she regarded the boys she went to school with, especially the Muslim boys pointed out to her by one of her best friends, who decries them while Desirée finds herself fascinated with them. This narration sheds light on why a girl like Desirée would become involved in Mo.

Mo, in the midst of his crisis and not knowing where else to go, ends up wondering over the house of an old friend, a Muslimah named Nisreen who he apparently used to know in earlier days. He indicates that he hasn't talked to Nisreen much because she became more conservative, strict with hijab and he felt like he didn't have anything to say to her. Except that he didn't want to talk to anyone else about his stress, it was their spring break, and she had happened to call him up, telling him that they should talk "for old time's sake," and so he ends up at her apartment, with her uncomfortable being alone in his presence but still wanting to help him.

And the third narration is "Muslimah," as Nisreen tells from her perspective Mo's presence in her apartment, his reluctance to leave, his stress, and her feeling that there was a woman behind it all and that Mo simply needed to man up about his intentions.

Yep. Pretty much. I'm trying to not make the twist too obvious, but clever people will probably have it figured out early. Yeah, there's a twist!

Through these three narrations and these three main characters, I'm touching upon a lot of themes...Islam, Muslims, race in Islam, sex in Islam (yeah...we'll see how that goes), gender relations...all sorts of fun stuff!

As soon as I'm done with step 2, I plan to get back to editing this at full speed, I plan to finish it, edit through it once more and then send it out to relatives to proof, then I'm going to try to see if I can get it published, kind of because I feel like this is the best fiction story line I can produce right now and I've always wanted to get published, so yeah, I'll just go for it and see what happens. This has been a story three years in the making now, so hopefully this year will be the year I'll finish it!

Monday, June 21, 2010


As salaam alaikum,

I was thinking about what word would characterize my mood right now, and for some reason, this is the first word that came to my mind: angustia.

Angustia is Spanish for anguish. I've probably used angustia more in compositions and in discussions than I've used anguish by virtue of majoring in Spanish in college. It's also because angustia is one of those emotions that I'm not comfortable expressing in longing. I end up writing entries in Spanish just to express myself, because it's in that language and that version of myself that those feelings are appropriate, make the most sense, are permissible, whatever.

So why the angustia? Oh, so many things. I've been trying to talk to my mother about this thing for days, but she's...well, she's kind of going through her own thing right now.

I've kind of...lost some direction in the last few years. I've lost some of my impetus, my motivation to move forward. I mean, I'm more excited about family medicine than I have been about any other specialty, but at the same time...something's not quite right.

I'm 25, and I'm supposed to have to grown out of this stage of life so long ago, but I really don't feel like I have any place in this world. I feel like I don't make sense, and that my parents raised me for a world that doesn't exist anymore, that maybe existed back when they were my age, but now.

I live between two different worlds. In one world, I am aberrant. I'm a 25 year old female and I've never been in any sort of relationship, not a serious one, not a not serious one. By society's standards, I am defective. There is something wrong with me. I am abnormal. I'm nobody's nun, but somehow I can't pull it together to be in a relationship. Pitiful.

In the other world, the Muslim world...I'm also aberrant. I have no culture to help me navigate the marriage process, no one older to help me, and if I were to find someone to marry, my Christian father would probably reject them. Simply put, I am a mess.

This causes me a lot of angustia...I am angustiada. Why? Because while I continue to dysfunction in a major way, I see friends, their younger siblings, my younger cousins, people younger and older than me being functional, finding life partners and getting married, people wishing them a lifetime of happiness, and to hell if I can even meet someone that I actually like enough to want to be around.

Angustia...tell me, how does this life work again? What am I doing wrong? Something? Everything? I'd give up but I don't even know how...

Angú saber que não faço o menor sentido nessa vida.

I don't make sense.

It's like the continuation of that poem I wrote all of six years ago, that ended, "Never would you tell me that we don't make sense." We didn't make sense, that was for sure...but the reason was that I didn't make sense.

So how could a we make sense if the I doesn't make sense.

I'll let this stand as it is for now. The most likely explanation for all of this right now is a little bit of PMS, but I've also been feeling undertones of this for a while now, so I might as well say it, get it off my chest, let it be.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mall of my Dreams

As salaam alaikum,

For the last several years, for some reason, there have been a few set locations that are included in my dreams repeatedly, as if there is a dream world that exists in another realm that I become part of when I got to sleep. It is within this world that my subconscious really takes over and I find myself dreaming about things that I didn't even know I was thinking about.

The most infamous set for me has been this one mall that I've dreamed about for the last several years, maybe since I've been in medical school. It's an indoor mall that's connected to a strip mall, and I think it's a amalgamation of Arborland mall from my childhood and Arborland mall now (it converted from an indoor mall to a strip mall, the only original store remaining being Toys R Us, but even that's been renovated), along with some other malls I've been to. Anyway, the mall is always the same, every time I go to it in dreams. And I have a favorite store that I go to. It's this oddly shaped women's clothing store, with a few clothes up front in the main entrance, a narrow corridor that leads to another section that I usually don't get to in my dreams, but that's there.

The mall also has a food court that I've been to several times in dreams as well, sometimes getting to eat there, and a department store, at least. There are a lot of other stores, but I never go to those.

This mall is infamous in my dreams not only because I've dreamed about it a lot, but because of this series of dreams I had over a couple of months. Dreams rarely terrify me, but this one really did. For some reason, I had joined this organization of misfits that robbed establishments and then destroyed them so no one would know that they had just robbed them. I don't know how I became involved with this...gang. I'd never seen a movie like this or anything, so I had no idea where this dream came from.

Anyway, I was involved in one of their heists, and I was apparently the leader. I've forgotten by now what we stole, but we put the merchandise into shopping carts and casually walked out of the mall. One in my party had apparently planted bombs, and so we were trying to get out before they detonated. So I was only a small distance from the store, and I don't know how I got out with shoplifted merchandise with no one noticing, and shortly thereafter, the bomb detonated. I then blended in with the crowd not to spark suspicion, and then I took the merchandise back to the headquarters.

Later on in the dream, I was terrified. What had I just done? My first concern was...would we be caught? Would the security cameras show us planting the bomb, stealing from the store? Well, the damage to the store was so great, apparently, that the security cameras and the whole system was destroyed, so we were safe in that respect.

Then, there was remorse. What had I done, and for what? Had anyone been killed? I started to see footage on the news and it was horrible. The bomb went off in the toy section of the store, and so many children were injured, and I saw footage of small crying children and babies with their mothers, some missing limbs, in chaos in the mall. I was in disbelief. I realized what an atrocity I had committed, and I realized that now, whereas I had previously had a clean slate in life, I'd have to repent probably for the rest of my life and who knew if God would ever forgive me. And what if I were caught? Like, what about medical school? I couldn't be a doctor if I went to prison for this! So, even though I felt that I'd have to confess to fully repent, I couldn't because that would mean my career. And what if someone figured something out? It was a very sticky situation.

A while later, I returned to the mall of my dreams in a separate dream. Two separate occasions, I went to the mall after the bombing. In one of them, I surveyed the department store, which was back open but with certain sections still closed for repair. Apparently, the bomb also took out that women's clothing store that I often frequented, or at least the front part of it, so for the first time, I shopped in the back of it. I was so guilty when I went back to the mall to see it suffered so much damage, and I was a little bit afraid that someone would see me and suspect me, so I spent little time in the mall.

I probably dreamed about that mall once or twice more while parts of it were still closed for repairs, but it's all fixed now, and I'm not sure if the bombing even still exists.

Take that to a dream interpreter...I have no idea what it all means. I may have been influenced by the mall destruction scene of the Blues Brothers, which I hadn't seen in at least a year or more.

Anyway, the mall of my dreams appeared again last night. I almost forgot about it, but I was packing my bag to come to study at the medical school campus and I felt like I had dreamed about M. I'd hoped not...I haven't been thinking about him at all lately, so why is he still creeping into my dreams? No idea.

But he was in my dream, in the mall of my dreams. We ran into each other in the women's clothing store...or I felt like we came in together. I was just there because he was there, and M was shopping for his wife. He told the person in the store who was trying to help him that he was shopping for his husband. I shook my head, telling him that he needed to get used to calling his wife his wife and not his husband. He nervously nodded, that's true.

I then picked up a pair of size 19 pants (apparently, things were in juniors sizes on this rack). It was a big pair of brown pants with an unattractive cut that were apparently tall. I commented something about the pants, and then I either woke up or moved on in the dream.

This is a recurrent theme...M accidentally calling his wife his husband. It happened in a dream a couple of weeks ago. I must have had the dream because I've been thinking about a lot of my friends who have gotten married in the last couple of years, and I feel so behind. Seriously, two of my friends have had their second children already, and I'm here, being an overgrown child in medical school, for some reason having dreams about an old college crush and his wife. Because they're never unaccompanied...I guess my subconscious finds it more halal that way, as I said before, but I could really do without.

So the mall of my dreams persists. I wonder how long I'll go shopping in this mall, and how many other sets and landscapes will recur in my dream world. We'll see...


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life Finally Feels Like It's Going On...

As salaam alaikum,

The longest running obsession circuit that I've had in life, six years in the making...has finally ended. Who knew it would take me getting totally freaked out by the death of an actor 28 years ago to actually get me out of the circuit? Who knew it would take something like that, combined with the advice of a friend, for me to tomar uma atitude and move on...

Who knew?

The feelings that are left are feelings of...recognition of the feelings that once existed. No love has existed for a long time now, bitterness has been gone for sometime, too. I'm not sure what was left...confusion, maybe? Frustration when I couldn't stop thinking about them, and a little bit of something that I rarely experience...jealousy. In six years since I met you, you got to get those six years, I've experienced several degrees of single.

That's all gone, too.

Meeting up with my friend from college had to be the bulk of this, though, and telling the entire story to her in this succinct way that made it feel...over, complete. Her concept of me was completely separate from all of this, whereas I was living in a reality in which this defined my college career. She helped me gain some perspective, and here I am.

It is, in fact, possible to get all the way over someone without someone else coming along. It's just a lot harder, but I think you're a better person in the end because of it. You're stronger, at least.

...I'm still writing RMD, that hasn't changed. The focus has changed, though. When I first had the idea for RMD, it was a short story called "Agent" that was based on this, and it was meant to be more my commentary about the counterproductive nature of gender relations in Muslim America, especially for those Muslims who do not have a cultural system in place for marriage. "Agent" became one narration out of three in "A Rose Much Desired," which became a novel...the other two narrations being "Desirée" and "Muslimah." It was very Laura Restrepo of me to set up the story like this, but I think I had just read Delírio a bit ago when I came up with this idea.

Mo only became like a composite of this man and a few other people I knew a month before NaNoWriMo, and I think it was because at the time I was heavily disillusioned by the fact that I'd spent (then) 2-3 years liking this guy who had no idea I liked him back. Over time, after his engagement and marriage, Mo has become less and less this man and the focus of the story is back to where it always was supposed to be...a commentary of gender relations and some of the sequelae of the dysfunction with Muslim men and women, especially women.

I'll introduce you to the story and each of the three narrations later.

For now, it's off to the gym...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Social Dilemmas of the Invisible Muslimah

As salaam alaikum,

Okay, dilemma! One of my medical school friend's birthdays is this upcoming weekend...or something, it's sometime this week. Anyway, he's supposed to be having a birthday dinner this Saturday, which I was all set to go to...

...then, I got this email about how MAS Boston (Muslim American Society) is having a Converts Dinner that same Saturday at the ISBCC [Islamic Society of Boston Community Center...basically this huge, gorgeous mosque that was built on Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury that's been opened since I've been here in Boston], and yeah, I kind of want to go to that...

Because while I continuously assert that I am not a convert [which, can you call someone a convert who has been Muslim their entire adult life, practiced Islam with a parent and family as a child and has a Muslim parent? It seems weird, right, unless at one point I was not Muslim...], by virtue of being the child of two generations of converts with a non-Muslim father, I have convert-like issues. Plus, I'm always up for the cause of supporting new Muslims.

And...I feel like I need to increase my social contacts within the Boston Muslim community. Harvard Longwood Muslims is awesome, but sometimes it's cool to step outside of the world of medicine.

And...[ulterior motive alert] there's always the hope that you'd meet eligible Muslim brothers and somehow begin some sort of dysfunctional courtship type...thing with one of them.

I'm not going to lie! I'm a 25 year old single Muslimah! As they say, "Hecha y derecha" [lit. made and right...yeah]. I mean, at this point in life, I realize that anything that happens at any point in time between now and graduation (so like, two years) will be potentially constraining because of the whole residency match thing, my thoughts about moving back to the Midwest or out West...I guess there's wisdom in waiting on all of that until I graduate and get to wherever I do residency...

But! then it's like, what about if I do residency in a place where I don't want to continue to live but I've met someone there?

I'm not going to wait until I'm a practicing physician! And why not, you may ask? That's me being single least 5 more years! What's five years, you may ask? A long a** time, that's what it is!

A bunch of my friends who have just gotten married will be having their second children at that time, and I'll still have never been in a relationship...

Oh snap, right? Because when I mean single, I mean single in the halal, no relationships, no dysfunctional attempted halal courtships, nothing for five more years...nope, man, nope.

Yes, I've been bitten by the marriage bug because so many folks are getting married these days and it's like, sigh, one day it'll be my turn, but also gasp, one day it'll be my turn...

I guess I must realize...for the next 5 years, it's not going to be a convenient thing to be engaged/married as a medical student and then resident, but oh well, man.

...but anyway. I guess I'll cut out of my friend's dinner early and make it over to the converts' dinner. May I meet someone there?

Pssh, I don't count on it. I'll probably end up sitting at a sister's table anyway.

I also need to practice the fine art of not talking about myself too much. But it's so hard! You say a little something about yourself and then people are like, oh my gosh, that's so interesting, and then you find yourself going overboard...

[Check this out...apparently, MAS Boston wants to start up something like this - So cool! This is what I needed when I started college!]

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Greatest Days

As salaam alaikum,

I just hung out with a friend of mine from the University of Michigan that I haven't seen in years. The last time I really saw her was probably during junior year or so right after I started wearing the hijab...and the last time she saw me was as a hijabi, actually. I didn't see her on graduation, when I had stopped by then for a week's time.

And man, it was so good seeing her! We caught up for a couple of hours and we didn't even get to say all that we wanted to say...I still have to hear about her upcoming trip to India, for example.

I've been doing a lot of thinking back to college, as the characters for A Rose Much Desired, or RMD as I'll come to call it, are seniors and alumni of the University of Michigan. But there's nothing like meeting up with someone you went to college with to change your perspective of your past, and meeting up with her did just that for me.

Today actually feels a little unreal because I met up with her. It's kind of like the first time that my best friend came to visit this apartment...she'd never come up to see me in Boston before, and she met my roommate, saw my room, saw the picture of her that I had sitting at the time on my heating vent, was surreal.

It felt similarly hanging out with this friend today. I barely know where we left off and what stage of development we were in when we left off. I hadn't yet gone to the Dominican Republic, so I was in a very different place...and now here we are, three years after graduation, three years after I randomly saw her in Boston at the TJ Maxx in Downtown Crossing, probably five years since I really had a chance to talk to her.

And we talked as if no time had elapsed, but so many things have happened. Insha'Allah, I'm on the cusp of beginning my third degree program (I can't get enough of this professional school thing, apparently) and she's getting ready to enter medical school. She talks about working and I realize, wow, working full time is a reality that I've never known...and now she's going back to school. She doesn't realize how foreign a world full-time working is to me. I mean, it will still be, because the 80-hr weeks of residency will be a bit strange, because I'll be working, being paid a fraction of what I'll earn later and learning all at the same time.

And she's starting medical school after being in the real world now for the last three years...I never did ask her what brought her to Boston, specifically, but it's been awesome catching up with her.

We talked a lot about men and relationships, as well, which is pretty much a requisite for single women our age, I think. We're both single at this point, watching age mates, friends of ours, get married. Seriously, on facebook, about five different people are getting married this month that I know of. It feels just a little insane, being that I've been single as an adult for longer than these people have known their future and current spouses, so it feels a little bit like...I've made no progress in life. I know it's not true, but simply stated, that's the way it feels...

But talking to her, even with the both of us being single, I realize...these are the greatest days of my life. The first year of greatest days in my life was 2004, when I met the man. That summer was beautiful, awesome, and it will always be, no matter what happened later in our trajectories. The second period of greatest days definitely had to be 2006, when I went to the Dominican Republic, and that changed my life [which has to be the topic of another post]. Then, definitely, 2008, when I put on FABRIC (the cultural show for my class), went to Brazil, solidified my Portuguese, and did the Second Year Show...oh yeah, and rounded out first year of medical school and began the second year. That year was definitely right up there with 2006 as one of the greatest years of my life...probably even better than 2006.

And so maybe there is a pattern? Perhaps 2010, the year I chose Family Medicine, the year I resumed working out, doing samba in Cambridge, my public health year...I don't know what the rest of this year will bring, as none of us do, but seriously, today I realized that these are some of the greatest days in my life.

I'm in better shape, I'm energized, I'm excited for life...I'm free!

And seeing her, and remembering where I was in college helped me, I'm not actually standing still. I've come a long way. I've matured, I've maintained my essence but I'm a bit of a different person, I've got goals in my life now, and yeah, forward I go.

She wants to read RMD when I'm done. Oh man, the pressure's on now. I have to make this story good.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Someday, He'll Come Along...

{Currently listening to: "The Man I Love" - Caetano Veloso}

As salaam alaikum,

As has become customary for this blog, yes, I always link to YouTube links of whatever song I'm thinking of or actually listening to at the time. This one is placed at the beginning of the entry because I'm basing the title off of the song.

Yes, the song is sung by a man...a straight, non-bi man, mind you. Figure that out. It's a beautiful rendition, but seriously, very Brazilian of him to sing this song. I feel like folks are like, "Gosto tanto dessa música" (I love this song) and then sing it, no matter what gender was originally meant to sing the song.

I guess that's like me and "Time Takes Two" by Robert Cray. I love singing that song, even though I actually change the "So proud to be your man," to "So proud to be your girl."


"Someday he'll come along, the man I love. And he'll be big and strong, the man I love..."

My roommate and I were talking over dinner, and something interesting happened. Unlike anyone that I've ever met, she actually described the type of man that she thought I'd end up with.

I was like, whoa, really? No one, including me, could actually imagine that.

Her reasoning? She figured that I reminded her a lot of one of our mutual friends, so she saw me ending up with a guy like this mutual friend. A kind of serious, very intellectual guy.

Which is hilarious, because I actually see myself with kind of the opposite...I think I'm marked by my last experience, but I saw myself with a kind of goofy, fun loving, though serious when it's necessary type of guy. She doesn't see that happening at all, apparently.

A serious intellectual, huh? ...I could see that working.

And I shared with her this vision that I have...of waking up in the morning to have a breakfast of toast and an all-white kitchen, for some reason, wearing pastel-colored pajamas (hey, I'm just describing what I see in my mind's eye) with my husband, reading newspapers from different countries, perhaps in different languages, sharing with each other the top stories of the day and comparing the spin between sources before ending breakfast and continuing on our work, or wherever.

I mean, I'm a goofy person at heart, too, a little bit...but...interesting.

No one's ever been able to tell me what type of guy they saw me ending up with, and granted, she knows me just a little...but the fact that she said I'm a lot like my best friend here, she's got something right.

In the end, it's going to be interesting, whatever type of guy that I decide to end up with.

I'd never actually heard the whole recording of Caetano's "The Man I Love." That's actually a nice recording. I'll have to download it. It's from a novela that I watched, "Viver a Vida."

It would be really convenient if I met someone during public health year...actually, it would also be a really bad time, unless they were willing to follow my whims and fancies and move to whatever part of the country I was going, hahaha...

There is no convenient time to meet people as a medical student or a resident. Every time is a bad time.

We'll see...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When Life Throws You Crap, Make Lemonade!

As salaam alaikum,

I got a fair amount of studying done this morning, but as usual, during studying, I'm prone to get distracted. I was starving because I had run out of all of my fruit, which is basically what I snack on between breakfast and dinner with this new diet I'm on. I guess it's working. I'm also working out 1-2 hours six days a week. Cardio and weights, then Saturday is my samba class. All of this, and I was pretty much starving at noon while trying to study. Like seriously, I felt my body shutting down.

I eventually found some stale crackers in the pantry, but that was no good. It was time to go shopping!

There was no way I was going to walk 30 minutes to go the Shaw's. My former roommate when to great lengths to be cheap, but I needed to buy frozen stuff and I didn't care that it was only 73 degrees outside. Stuff was still going to melt, and I didn't want to walk 30 minutes from Boston into Cambridge to Somerville with a granny cart. So I dug up my Peapod account and my groceries will be delivered tomorrow evening. Awesome!

Alhamdulillah, the obsession circuit has calmed down and today has been a much more normal day. I'm also going to try something. For some reason, randomly, I was studying...pulm, I think, I suddenly remember this man remarking about how good his sisters' lassis were.

For those who don't know, lassi is a beverage made in India/Pakistan. My favorite is the mango lassi...I get it pretty much every time I get Indian food.

Then I thought about "A Man's Hands," the short, autobiographical piece that I wrote for the Muslim women's relationship anthology, and how it begins with me thinking about "Sadiq" while exchanging glances with "James" while sitting in an Indian restaurant, and how Sadiq existed for me as an apparition, and how I'd once imagined learning how to cook Indian food to appease his mother if we ever got together.

And I was like, pssh, I don't care about him! I like Indian food. It's like, give me foo foo and soup any day, and I'll chew on stock fish with the best of them, but Indian food is awesome.

So I didn't have to be ending up with this guy to learn how to cook Indian food. Let me continue being the cultural contradiction that I am and learn how to cook Indian food.

And if it comes down to it, there are several Indian import stores in Boston and Cambridge. I know this one lady stopped me in the street one day on my lunch break from clinic and offered to do henna for me. I can only imagine coming back from lunch break with henna, preceptor would have loved that. Not really. But they probably have spices.

So, I don't have all of my groceries yet, but I made mango lassi tonight. It's...awesomely easy to make. My next task...I'm going to make chicken tikka masala.


I'll wait until I get home to make foo foo and soup. In the meantime, I have to see if I can find real yams from somewhere.

So what does this have anything to do with anything, especially the title? Taking crap and making lemonade?

That's exactly what I'm doing. My butt is huge right now. I'm working out like crazy and dieting to try to lose all the weight I've gained over the last two years, and then some. If I'm going to diet, I'm at least going to eat stuff that I like. And while occasionally my mind gets stuck in maladaptive circuits and I think of this man, maybe I can do something with this circuit and redirect it to something productive.

So I'm going to be cooking a lot more in the upcoming days...Igbo, Dominican and Indian food. Why Dominican food? Because it's been a long time. I'm going to make several beverages...lassi, avena and batidas.

And I bought some Guaraná for good measure.

And once I get done studying, I'll look into picking up another language. I know I'm 25 and I'm pushing it in terms of language learning, but I'm up for a new challenge.

This is, after all, my "year off." Samba class is cool, but there are tons more other random and fun things I can do with my life right now instead of letting my brain get the better of me.

So I'll try it...I'll let you know how it goes!

{Currently listening: Never Give You Up - Raphael Saadiq f. Stevie Wonder and CJ}

Monday, June 7, 2010

[uncensored]: Obsession Circuit

As salaam alaikum,

Sometimes, my brain annoys me. The other day, I was wondering if part of my brain suffered some kind of damage from an unknown insult years ago for which I am currently suffering the sequelae. Either that, or sometime in my childhood for an unknown reason I formed a maladaptive circuit within my basal ganglia which causes me to go into these behaviors and have these thoughts against my will. Maybe that would explain my obsessive nature.

Maybe somewhere in my brain, I have an Obsession Circuit.

I mean, it's good for some things. I became obsessed with Spanish at one point, that helped me learn it. I was obsessed with getting into UCSF for medical school and that helped me get into the medical schools I got into. I certainly still obsessed with Brazilian Portuguese, and that's why I can speak it almost fluently now. So it's not a bad thing, necessarily, just a personality trait that has helped me learn and achieve certain things...

But those obsession are nothing as compared to my man obsession.

My sophomore year of college, I spent every day thinking about this man every few minutes or so. It was totally against my will, totally annoying, especially when, by the end of the year, I discovered that we would not end up together. I very much cooled down after that and recovered, but for some reason, recently, two years after this man got engaged and a couple of months after he's gotten married, he and his wife have been popping up in my dreams.

Last night, it was the fault of this guy. I went to an Erykah Badu concert [which was awesome, by the way...she is not small anymore], and there was this guy sitting two rows in front of me that reminded me of him...tall and awkward, but black, with a mohawk and these crazy glasses on. Because of this guy, I had a dream about the man last night. It's never anything sexual, and it never was...he was on the phone, talking to his wife while stuck at work, reading GQ magazine and discussing something about fashion. This time, he had the mohawk and the crazy glasses.

Later in the night, in a separate dream, his wife was on some fashion television show getting ready to be interviewed. At that point, I woke myself up and I prayed.

I take comfort that I can make du'a whenever I need it, any time or day and night. I prayed to God to abolish this from my mind, whatever this is, this obsession circuit, because this is getting to be ridiculous.

It's not even really an active thing. For years, I haven't sought him (or them) out on facebook. However, since they're both my facebook friends, yes, sometimes they pop up on the newsfeed. Besides the dream I had the day they got married (in which they were advising me about the smart way to lose's always really random with me), that's how I found out they got married.

With this whole thing, me and this guy's eventual relationship and how it didn't work out, I must say...the internet is a bitch.

So many things wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the, I wouldn't have found out that his sister told him he should befriend more Pakistani women the day after I went out with him if it weren't for the internet, so I wouldn't have been devastated and I maybe wouldn't have fallen into my obsession circuit with him, actually, which turned into a self-validation "Am I good enough" thing and had little to do with the man himself...

Actually, that's probably the main thing.

I'm tired of dreaming about him and his wife, seriously! And the dreams are always stupid? Seriously, reading GQ? An television interview about fashion?

My problem is, whether I like it or not, he was my prototype, so if I see people who remind me of him when I liked him, this piques my interest. Unfortunately for me, the way my brain works, this means that he and his wife will make cameos in my dreams.

He's never alone. Haha, because in my brain, it's improper of me to dream of a married man unaccompanied by his wife, in halal terms. My thing is, I don't find it halal to be thinking about, dreaming about a married man at all, even if his wife is always right there next to him in my thoughts, in my dreams.

Stupid obsession circuit!

One thing this has all has purified my intentions for the story I'm writing, A Rose Much Desired. This man is the basis of one of the characters in the story, named Mo. When I originally wrote the story in November 2007 [National Novel Writers Month, NaNoWriMo--it was 50,000 words at the time], for Mo, I wrote this character, Maida, who he was unofficially seeing who everyone expected him to propose to. This character was based on, you guessed it, his wife. The crazy hilarious thing was...they weren't engaged yet, and I didn't actually know that they were unofficially together until they got engaged, and I was like, oooh...I'm psychic. They got engaged the next year, and I was like, well crap, if these characters seem too much like them, it would seem kind of inflammatory, like I was trying to actively say something about their relationship, which was never my intention.

So over the years I've more loosely based the characters off of these people with the knowledge that they were actually getting married, and I've altered some dialogue and plot...the main plot remains, though. That's one thing I didn't sacrifice.

So in terms of purifying my intention is no longer any sort of bitter remembrance/calling this man out as it kind of was when I started this. My intention is more telling the story of two women, one growing up surrounded my Muslim boys and her becoming intrigued by their contradictions in spite of their religion and their culture who ultimately falls for a Muslim man, the other a Muslimah, cornering herself into isolation as the attempts to become more practicing but finding herself socially at the margins of Islam. Though Mo is the focus of one of the main narrations in the story, and although he's protagonist, his role is more supportive than anything as compared to these women.

I'll talk more about this story later, and post some excerpts once I get further in editing.

But the morning is young. I just had to post [uncensored] for a second about my ridiculous brain. Maybe putting it out there will help me overcome the insanity from within.

Off to the gym. I need to start doing crunches.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reform Time?

As salaam alaikum,

I'm sitting here at the TMEC, trying to study cardio, realizing how long it's been since I've read an EKG. It's been about 10 months since I read an EKG well during my medicine rotation. You rarely get a chance to read EKGs in the other rotations. So that's the first few pages of the First Aid cardio section, and I'm recalling how good I used to be at reading EKGs and feeling like, at the same time, I may have to take an L for today for studying because my mind is in too many places right now...

...and then I feel my phone vibrate, ring. I think I know who it is, and it is her. It's my roommate. And I remind myself what I've been telling myself for a nice to her.

But then when I answered, it felt more natural. I was like, "Hey! What's up?"

Have you ever felt something come from within you that you weren't expecting? Yeah, that's what happened then. I was sincerely nice, sincerely happy to hear from her, talk to her.

And I was like, whoa, I just spent the last couple of months genuinely annoyed by her...what changed?

This is the first month in 13 months that I have not been doing some sort of clinical rotation.

This scares me, kind of, a lot. Did I become an evil person after doing my rotations?

It's hard to tell when the change actually took place. If I were to guess, I'd suppose it happened during surgery...reason #2409 why I will absolutely not go into surgery. I always said that surgery made me forget Allah (swt) in a way I never have ever before in my life...for hours at a time in the OR, the attending was the one that I answered to, and all my thoughts and feelings would surround getting the next pimp answer correct, all of my energy was put into that, for the love of my grade...instead of me learning and experiencing the wonders of the human body and the human intellect, for the love of God. So that was one thing...

I think surgery also made me a meaner, less patient person, and that just caused my roommate to annoy me. I needed a break from the clinical sphere, and so I got that, and I cooled down, more and more...and now, with ample time to think things through, I'm becoming a nicer person to her, and I genuinely like her more, as she is.

And it startles me because...I'm not done with experiences like these. I'm going to go into training, and I'm not going to have the luxury of months off for break. I'll get maybe a week at a time, and maybe two tough rotations back to back, all of these things. I won't have the break I have now to become a more normal person. I don't want to become evil!

I've been reflecting for a few months now that I used to be a nicer person...I feel like I'm getting back to it, but seriously, I don't want the world of medicine to render me evil spirited, impatient, intolerant...

So okay, I have a year's time to reform. I need to learn how to organize my space and time better so that I have a better space and time for devotion and worship, for self-reflection, no matter how pressed for time I am. I can't let my spirituality fall to the wayside like I have so many times throughout medical school. It's not cool.

I also need to be honest with myself, about where I am spiritually, religiously, and where I need help. I need help with most things. I have been needing for a long time someone to talk to, real time, about these issues...someone older and someone my age. I need a big sib in Islam, I think, someone preferably in medicine to help me navigate my life in Islam in residency, in practice. I've been going at things in life alone for a long time...I need a Muslim counselor that I can tell my life's story to, someone who will listen and help me organize everything and go forward from here in a productive way...

Because what bothered me the most about how my roommate annoyed me is that...I never used to be like this. One of my greatest attributes was that I was nice, "charitable" as I call it, even when people weren't the nicest or the most considerate back. I recognize that part of my change is self-preservation, but I liken my not being nice to my roommate as...I don't know, the sign of the complete degradation of my character and spirit, that I'd lost myself in a world of little redeeming value, and that if I don't reform soon, that's the world I'm going to live in...for time.

So, yes, it's time to reform. Alhamdulillah I realized it at this point before it got too far...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Você Não Existe / You Don't Exist

As salaam alaikum,

If there's one thing about this blog that has stayed constant over some time now, it's that I don't usually blog about current events. The last time I really wrote about any current event in-depth in a journal, kind of, it was 9/11. I was not yet blogging, and even my own journal leaves much to be desired about the discussion. I don't know...I've always had difficulty writing well about current events and my feelings about them. It always seems forced and artificial, even for things that I care a lot about.

Now, as I end third year and return to the world of the living, one would presume I'd be able to keep up with current events, right? I know this is day 40-something of the oil spill, I know there have been some wild fires. Sometimes I feel guilty for not being like nearly every other Muslim blogger and putting in my own two cents about the current strife in the Middle East, the Freedom Flotilla, something.

The fact of the matter is...I only like to discuss things that I am well-read about, or things that are matters of pure opinion that do not require me to be well-read. Therefore, I do not blog on current events because most of what I have to say are gut feelings based on what little I heard about whatever event. I prefer to read and take in, but I never feel as if my opinion is adding that much to the situation.

Similarly, I don't post anything with heavy theological or scholarly significance here about Islam, because I am not an authority.

I keep it light on my blog, usually. Maybe in public health school I'll have more time to read and I'll actually post about current events more, so this blog won't seem as vapid...

...all the same, once I emerged from the ruins of my life after third year medical school and saw the light of day again, I must say...a lot of things don't seem real anymore.

It all started with the cloud of smoke that covered the Boston sky and much more of the Northeast on Memorial Day earlier this week. I read in the news that the smoke was from wild fires in Quebec and that there were 50 burning over the weekend, 8 of them out of control. The fact that smoke from Canada could settle over Boston and it still smelled of burning wood was amazing to me. It was almost unreal.

Then my mother shared with me the story of the 30 storey sinkhole in Guatemala City, and things seemed even more unreal...

Then, on day 40-whatever of the oil spill, she talked about people washing birds [with Dawn! like that commercial] and then setting them back in the wild, and I'm like, wait...they'll just get all oily again. And how are they washing individual birds when there are whole flocks out there affected by the oil? And why do they have these workers "cleaning up" at the site of the oil spill when the oil is still spilling, and they broke a diamond-tipped saw just trying to get this thing to stop, and...

It's terrible, but with that, I just laughed.

I came out of third year a different person. This world is unreal. Life really seems like a dream right now. It seems malleable, volatile...reality is no reality at all. A diamond tooth saw broke, the oil is still spilling, millions of gallons, and folks are trying to clean individual animals and are setting them back in the wild where they're just going to get greasy again. Workers cleaning up oil which is just going to come back, they're getting sick, and the employer is talking about it's "food poisoning."

If the Stylistics were right about people making the world go round, man...that's why nothing seems real anymore. People do not make the world spin, no, but the reality people create for each other on this earth is pure insanity, man.

I feel so much less afraid of the future in this world of artificial reality. I'll take this life as a long dream that I return to every morning after I wake from sleep. I can eat, sleep, use the bathroom and feel pain in my dreams now, so it's essentially just that. Everything feels real, but it'll be transient. One day I'll sleep or otherwise will not wake up. Transient, temporal...that's what life is. I don't exist. You don't exist. This building I'm sitting on is as permanent as that building that was swallowed up by the sinkhole.

The true meaning of being Muslim kicks in. I place my life in the hands of Allah (swt). I place my trust in His hands, I submit my entire life to God. But this no longer seems like a confining thing to me. It's rather a comforting thing. It's my refuge from Satan, yes, but more than that, it's my refuge from the insanity on the outside, the artificial reality that has been created by cultures, nations, societies, whatever your artificial division of human life.

And so I'm able to sit back and laugh at things that are ridiculous because I've been blessed to be in a position where I'm not in the thick of turmoil.

But I'm not making light of turmoil and struggle that people on this earth are facing. I may not have the imaginary balls to post about these current events [because mine are imaginary, even in this artificial reality, if I may get cheeky about it], but know that I have the presence of mind to pray about them all.

We're all presented with this artificial reality and our challenge as humans is to try to approximate the actual Reality as close as we can, and live according to His belief, anyway.

Food poisoning, indeed...hah!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cult of the Black Mama

As salaam alaikum,

I find when I'm stuck in front of a book, studying for hours, I have a lot of ideas for journal entries...of course, because I am studying and not at liberty to write whenever I want. I mean, I could...but then I'd never get any studying done.

So this is one I've been thinking about for a while.

Yes, Cult of the Black Mama. Let me explain.

So, back when I was at Michigan, I took a bunch of classes on race and history in Latin America. The first one I took was called "Writing Race and Nation in Latin America and the Caribbean" or something like that, and it was my first exposure to race in Brazil...the country that would later become a veritable love of my life.

Anyway, it was through this class that I learned a little bit about the Cult of the Mulata. In Cuba and Brazil especially, the mulata, specifically someone of mixed African and European heritage, has a specific space in culture. The mulata is a woman of unmatched beauty, sensual, graceful, the one that people always look for in dance, in front during the desfiles of the samba school, whatever. The mulata is also often objectified as a sexual object. Not as much in Brazil but in the Caribbean you also have the negra, that I feel exists more as an object than the mulata does.

But then again, the things coming to my mind right now are "Una mulata en la Habana" by Adalberto Alvarez and "Yo quiero un vacilón" by Toño Rosario ("yo quiero un vacilón con una negra sabrosa [...] negra, mueve la cintura").

It's not just Brazil and Cuba that have a bit of the Cult of the Mulata going on. The black community in the US has gone through waves of it, when you'd only see "light skinned" curly haired people on the cover of Ebony. These days, you're more likely to see a more mixed-looking woman on commercials than someone with chocolate skin and either natural or straightened hair.

And you know what, I'm actually not mad at any of that. I'm just going to do my own thing, so excuse me while I start the Cult of the Black Mama.

Because in these Latin American cultures and at least historically, not so much the case anymore, the way you got the mulata was through the black mama. Seriously, I read in my Latin American history classes so many eulogies for the mulata and how this was the perfect form for a woman...brown skin, curves with European features, all of this, and nothing about where these women came from. What about their black mothers? Not even worth a mention? They were good enough for these leaders and stuff to get with at the time but now only their daughters get the shout out?

I'm also not mad at that, either. In my Cult of the Black Mama, the black woman shall not be objectified. No moviendo de la cintura, no shaking ya a** and watching yourself, dropping it like it's hot, none of that. No Daisy Dukes and no apple bottom jeans.

For me, my black mama is the absolute matriarch. She is earthy, she lives organic, she is quintessential beauty. She is real, through and through, accepting her imperfections as coolly as she wipes sweat from her brow with her forearm. She is the cornerstone of family, she is loving, accepting, children under her arms and at her feet. She is unrecognized and gorgeous.

I've been part of the black woman fan club for a long time. As a result, all of the protagonists of every story that I've written have been black women. So, and this is probably as much of an intro to this new site as I'm going to give, it will become apparent as I explore about what it means to me to be black, a black Muslimah, whatever else, my feelings about the unique existence of the black woman in society.

So a roda da saia mulata não quer mais rodar, não senhor... The spin of the mulata's skirt doesn't want to spin anymore, no sir...

Welcome to Invisible Muslimah, The Cult of the Black Mama, and other such social anecdotes by Chinyere! It will be a fun trip.

Oh, by the way...smoke from 50 burning Canadian forest fires obscured the Boston skyline on was pretty cool. The whole place smelled like smoke. You could have told folks it was the end of the world and they would have believed it.

Time to sleep. I work out in the mornings now, and given I'm on a diet I'll probably sleep again like a hog tonight.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

USMLE Step 2 and Life Ahead


So, it begins today...studying for USMLE Step 2 CK (clinical knowledge). The task is actually less daunting than I imagined. I think after a whole year of taking standardized exams at the end of each rotation that lasted two hours, an exam on all I learned during third year in an 8-hour block is not that scary.

I'll just think of it as all of my shelf exams smashed together...and not even, because that exam would be 12 hours long.

Actually, I have a lot of other things to do today as well. My room is a mess, by virtue of my clothing. The laundry is in the hamper but I do not have enough room in my closet for my clothes. Now I sound like a total glutton, and I probably have too many clothes, anyway. But I recently took down my winter clothes to hang up my lighter spring clothes, and all of my sweaters right now are on the floor in front of my closet waiting to be put in the little wire receptacles on the floor of my closet that hold all of my out-of-season clothes. There are still a few things that need to be hung up. As a result of these receptacles, however, I don't have room for my shoes in my closet...and I dont' have that many shoes. I haven't bought a pair of athletic shoes in a couple of years and I'm wearing the same pair of sketchers I've had since undergrad because they haven't come out with a new style and I like these.

I'm becoming old...well, let's just say more mature and more sensible. There was certainly a time when I thought I needed to buy a new pair of tennis shoes [yes, I'm from the tradition/part of the country that says tennis shoes instead of sneakers] every year.

So there's laundry to be done, I'm going to dust in my room...probably in our living room, too, because for some reason, a fine yellow dust has covered everything from our windows being open. The bathroom needs a good once over, too. You know, I like when people help clean, but not when they do a half-a** job. My new roommate, bless her heart, sometimes cleans the bathroom...and honestly, besides the sink, the side of the tub, the mirror and the toilet seat, I don't know what she cleans.

[And if you're sitting there wondering what else there is in the bathroom to are one of those who also does not know how to clean.]

I'm actually excited to study for CK...excited to be done with it as well. I'm also a bit excited for public health school. I actually remembered that I had deadlines for admission coming up June 15 so I took a break from this entry to actually get some of that underway. I remembered that I had an official copy of my transcript sent to me by Michigan so I can just drop that off at the admissions office at the school of public health. I'm going to the office of the registrar and I'm going to drop off my transcript request form by hand.

Part of me still wants to have been doing a regular MD and be graduating next year...part of me is not sure what I'm going to do with two months of unscheduled time (actually, three months if you count this boards studying time...but for me, that's as good as scheduled time). I've just been in the go-go-go mode since I entered medical school. I take step 2 insha'Allah July 6. I don't take CS (clinical skills) until sometime next year...I think I'll try for late August during my week off of clinical responsibilities, and after I've been back in the hospital for a little bit and not horribly rusty at my physical exam skills.

This whole process...medical school, standardized exams, the strange way of grading third year, residency's very stressful. It's made me re-evaluate my faith in many ways. Like, I used to believe that everything ultimately happened for a reason, and even if it didn't fit into our personal plan, it fit into the plan Allah (swt) has for us.

For example, Step 1...I didn't do quite as well as I would have liked, but I did well, like, way good enough for the main specialty I was considering at the time, OB/GYN. I'm thinking, what if I had gotten an out of this world score, like 275 (the mean is 220). Would I have felt like going into something like family medicine was below me? Would I have set my sights on dermatology? Or, for example, what if I had gotten a few more high honors? Would I have considered then a more challenging specialty?

Do I still believe that everything happens for a reason? Yes, but I'm more apt to believe that things happen because they do. No one knows so by extension I can't know how Allah (swt) works. Just as I had previously said with pretty much every guy that I've liked in the past with whom it didn't didn't work because it didn't work. It was like, rounded and angular cogs that didn't fit together in the machinery. If it would have worked, the cogs would have turned and things would have gone naturally from there. But it didn't work. And I've always been the cautious type, not pushing things, trying to let things happen. If either of us forced stuff, the cogs would destruct and the machine would break. Not good.

I consider the same thing about my road to my specialty choice. I think with my grades and my Step 1 score and all else I have going for me, I'll be more than okay for family medicine. I'm not choosing this because it's easy, but I am choosing the specialty because I think it'll be awesome for me to take care of moms and babies (ultimately what I want to focus on) and because I can see where I'll have space to have a life.

Third year has proven to me...I cannot handle tons of stress. Obstetrics and gynecology would afford me just that...tons of stress. I mean, residency itself is stressful enough without entering a field with such low satisfaction rates, a field in which a large chunk of it, benign gynecologic surgery, I'm not too crazy about.

And in terms of the year off...that happened because it happened, too. Third year was stressful, I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to read like I wanted to, so here's my chance. Here's my chance to collect my thoughts, to rest, to do all of the things that I wanted to do, like writing RMD [I'll talk more about that here later, for sure]...

Anyway, yes, things are happening for a reason. Like my patient who I nicknamed Mystical-Magical Patient had the Spirit that guided her, I believe I function on a similar paradigm. Between praying istikhara (which I needed to do more often during third year) and going with the flow, I'm making the best possible decisions for my career.

Anyway, now I'm all worked up. Back to the gym!