Friday, April 29, 2011

Moved Out! New Lease...

As salaam alaikum,

I meant to post yesterday, but I was so tired, there was no way that was happening.

Yesterday, I moved out of my place of the last 2 years and 3 months.

Well, it's complicated, because I'm there right now. At my old place. I couldn't move into my new place because the girl's current roommate cannot move into her new place until May 1. I moved my stuff in so I could go to my friend's wedding in STL on May 1. And then I'm using today to clean. My floor is covered in crap, some of which I may want to keep the rest that is going into the trash. I also have to go sign my new lease tonight, which will be the opportune time for me to drop off my office chair...which I somehow neglected to pack onto the truck yesterday.

I was basically up working at 6:30am and did not stop until we dropped off the truck at 5:30pm. My feet really hurt when I was done. All that is left in the house is my trash and a few nick nacks that I forgot that I plan to drop off in my new place this evening at 6:30pm when I go to sign the lease.

I also feel like I have a new lease on life, too, during this time.

Time was, I would have crumbled under the stress of everything I have to do. I am really stressed out, week, I have four presentations, and the week after that, I have three papers due and two exams. My friends wedding is this weekend and I'll miss a day of class because of it. I have an assignment that is due on Monday as well, lest I forget. I basically don't stop until the last day of class May 13...and even with this, I'm okay.

I mean, it may also be due to the fact that my MPH grades don't matter for anything. But I do need to do all of this stuff to pass and get my degree in the first place...but...

I don't know. Now that I know what I want to do with my life, I'm comfortable with the stress. Before, it was more or less going through the motions with the future being a level of uncertainty that just brought more stress. I think that part, having clear aspirations towards my career, has put everything into perspective for me and I'm more than willing to endure the tough to get to where I want to be as a clinician and a public health practitioner.

The other thing is that I think yesterday I finally came to terms with the fact that B is a jerk. I don't care what he used to be anymore...that's irrelevant. He is a jerk. My friend who helped me move told me so, simply, succinctly in a way that only guys sum things up. "He's a jerk. Don't worry about it." Everyone reacts the same way to the story. Did I need a critical mass for me to recognize that it was true? I guess so.

But even before I made that realization, I've long moved on. How have I moved on? Well...I've rejoined the world of online matrimonials/dating for the past three weeks or so, with tremendous yield! I think I'm more ready for it than I was a couple of years back when I tried and I didn't feel as if it were halal for me to be talking to so many men at once. Hah, for a lot of reasons, I no longer have that feeling anymore...

And I'm tired of every month of PMS getting to me, me ending up somewhere lamenting my perpetual single life and wondering who I will be able to marry. This is unhealthy, and this is how I let B happen. Not saying that I regret B coming into my life or what went on between, it taught me some important lessons and solidified for me my own morals. But if I were in the place that I am now, for as "nice guy" as he was at the outset, he wouldn't have made the cut.

Insha'Allah I have a lot of years of life left. I've worked so much for my career, that which I always said would be second to family life, and yet, I was not doing anything active toward attaining that family life until I met B, and I don't want that to end with him. So, forward I go.

I'm set to meet a couple of the eligible bachelors, but as with B, I won't mention them or name them until they actually actually become a part of my life. I say it like that because there are a few promising ones. I have two favorites for sure, two more that are like runners up.

Oh yeah, and then I found out that MTQ is not actually really married yet, and that really confused me. And then for some reason that gave me more fuel to go forward and take care of my business and find myself someone who makes me feel the way TQ used to make me feel about him...and not settle for less any anymore.

I'll be moving to a new place with a purple bedroom that I may paint a pale green if I'm so inspired. Insha'Allah I will put my own hand into finding my husband instead of expectantly waiting for "the one" to drop out of the sky. I handle stress better now because I am in control of the parts of my life that I can have control over, though ever cognizant of my God and that at the end of the day it's His will that reigns...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

[uncensored]: The Song I'll Stop Singing

As salaam alaikum,

Sometimes, there are songs that I start off singing and then I decide to stop singing because I either no longer like them or I just can't get with the lyrics.

An example are the following lyrics to this song that used to come up on my Pandora from Toquinho: "As vezes quero creer mas não consigo. É tudo uma total insensatez. Aí pergunto a Deus, 'Escute, amigo. Se for pra desfazer, por que que fez?"

Which translates: "Sometimes I want to believe but I'm not able to. It's complete nonsense. Then I ask God, 'Listen, friend. If it tends towards entropy, why did you make it?"

It's a question a lot of us encounter on either side of the believing pole as we develop spiritually, but I can't bring myself to sing lyrics such as these. While as part of my spirituality, I don't cut out the music, I am media literate and spiritually literate...I don't take things into my body that are more harmful for me than good, and that includes music with lyrics that are "not edifying," as my parents told me.

So while I am a believer alhamdulillah and while I don't cognitively shake when I hear lyrics like that...why would I take it into my body?

Allah (swt) made us so wonderfully...we make associations. Towards the end of my relationship with B, I started hearing the song in my head, "Silly fool, how'd you lose such a good thing," lyrics from Teddy Pendergrass, in reference to him, and also "Next Lifetime" by Erykah Badu when I started to realize that he wasn't the one. Our minds make associations like that, and since I listen to a lot of music, I make a lot of musical associations.

So I don't want to be going through a trial in life or witnessing the hardship of others and hear, "As vezes quero creer mas não consigo..."

But that's not the type of song I'm talking about. The type of song I'm talking about is like the one I wrote about in one of my chapters of RMD (it's been a long time!), a Desirée chapter called, "The No-Sex Violators." It goes a little something like this:

   No sex before marriage. At fifteen, this was just another song that Desirée heard her parents sing. It wasn’t one of their favorites yet, but Desirée knew it soon it would be.
The school is Godless was Desirée’s mother’s favorite tune these days. If her mom could, Desirée knew that she would forbid her from tenth grade health class because of the way they taught sex outside of the context of God. If her mother knew about the whole putting the condom on the banana thing, she’d probably be appalled. Desirée appreciated her teacher’s respect for her ability to make her own decisions, at least, with the safe sex curriculum. It was all in principle, though—a different principle than the one that made her refuse to put the condom on the banana she was given. She felt as if she were being mocked. In reality, she didn’t know what she stood for as she dodged the condom water balloons made by the guys in her class and made her way to Western Civ during passing time.
 No sex before marriage didn’t mean much to her because marriage at that point seemed so far away. It seemed a near impossible feat. She couldn’t even get a boy who was worthwhile to like her, so marriage and, she guessed, sex, were far away.

Oh yeah, putting the condom on the banana in health class...haha, Desirée chapters at some points were more autobiographical than fiction. This was one of the points. I didn't tell my mother until years later about putting the condom on the banana...and I did not participate. I figured I wouldn't be having sex any time soon...

...though as my roommate maintains, I just avoided having a teenage pregnancy. And it's true...I was a bit of a boy-crazy little girl. I had a different crush every year from the time I was five until I was 12. That last one, seventh grade, was a heavy one because the estrogen had kicked in...I had been menstruating for two years and puberty was behind me. I was ready. Me and this boy were going to get married at 20, move to Detroit and I was going to have a boy that I would make his junior. Yeah. I also got propositioned for the first time at 15 while at a conference in a hotel away from home. I knew nothing about birth control and was not that concerned that I didn't know. Teenage brain alert!

The little boy tried, too. He was 16...had his eyes set on me. I felt validated, as a teenage girl would, but I think what happened was this other guy who liked me, who was 14, kicked the other guy out of my room, telling him to, "stay away from [his] woman!" Yeah. Shenanigans.

But I digress.

So songs are powerful, whether they're actual songs or figurative songs, our own personal refrains that we repeat at intervals, that we're known for...

My mother's picked up her grandmother's: "Be thy labor, big or small. Do it well, or not at all." I'll pick up my grandmother', not "I'll beat your ass until you shit," but maybe the, It'll be alright, "Eat a little shit, won't hurt," refrain. Me gusta.

But from here on out, actually, I vow to stop singing the following songs: Guys are all full of crap, men aren't worth two craps, the quality of men is zero right now, there are no good men out there...and all variations. Chose your favorite. I personally like the two craps one.

Why am I going to stop doing that? Because I realize what I've always's not true!

I know it's not true, because if I didn't know it was true, I wouldn't be so frustrated by so many of the men who are before me...I would be resigned. If I didn't know it was true, I would have given up long ago. If I didn't know it was true, I wouldn't have been willing to take the L with B and taken the chance in that relationship...

It is not true!

I'm also going to stop singing, "All the good ones are already married" song, because that's also not true.

I look at this guy in my global reproductive health class. He's a really smart OB/GYN from Nigeria (Igbo kwenu!) and I'm really inspired by the work he's done and the perspective that he brings to the table. He's one of the good ones, yes, and he's already married, yes.

But then, there's this other guy. I've gotten to know him in the course of my year here...I think he was in my roommate's ethics class. He's a funny guy, usually sits with us during lunch and distracts us from work telling us stories about what it's like in Nigeria...he has one of those personalities that pops, really. I've gone to a couple of public health school parties and people have commented about us together...our interactions and whatnot. And at first I dismissed it, like, oh, that was just us acting silly. But now, the tone has changed now that he knows I'm no longer with B...who he met when we went out for the first time to Harvard's celebration of the 60th anniversary of Nigeria's independence...gala...I know, that's a long name. Anyway...

He's a physician in Nigeria, he's going to go back to Nigeria to complete his training after he's done with the MPH, and we're all done in about 3 weeks. I'll be his facebook friend, so we'll keep in touch. I've purposefully kept myself at bay because I feel like he may like me and I don't want to encourage him, but I'm to this event that the Nigerian student organization (that mysteriously I was not invited to join) is putting on this evening...

...and I was coming home to eat after an interview this morning and I just had to stop myself and reflect...wait, this is a good guy. I don't see him in class because he's in a different major, but he probably has a lot to offer. He's funny, he's kind...haha, he reminds me of a short, young, Nigerian Santa Claus, haha. He's shorter than me. And here I am, doing what I know how to do best...keeping myself aloof and avoiding.

He's actually not know, besides been a little short-n-stout, but you know...there's also the thing of him going back to Nigeria soon...and me thinking of him more like a cousin than someone I'd be interested in...more like a friend.

So no, there are good guys around! I'm friends with many many of them, and most of them are not attracted to me, but sometimes, they are...and I'm the one who doesn't respond. I pass them by because, realistically, someone better will come along for these guys, someone who shares the passion for them, someone who fits into their lives...but they are good men.

I'm just not going to like all good men, and not all good men will like me. That's fine.

But the more I've sung the song about no good men being around, the more I've come to believe it, being blinded to the fact that most of my guy friends are good men...including the brother friends, these are good men who, if they were so interested and if I were so interested, I wouldn't mind...I guess, going forward toward a nikah?

Haha, I'm still not sure what to do in terms of courtship with Muslim men...I think it's all a very individual path.

But yes, let me stop believing that so I can see more all of the good men around me, so maybe next time I'll pay more attention when there is obvious interest.

So I'll stop singing that song.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Não Vou! / I'm Not Going!

As salaam alaikum,

Não vou! Eu não sou ninguém de ir em conversa de esqeucer a tristeza de um amor que passo. Não! Eu só vou se for pra ver a estrela parecer na manhã de um novo amor...

I'm not going! I'm not someone to believe this talk about forgetting the sadness of a love that has ended. No! I'll only go if it is to see the star appear in the dawn of a new love...

I like this lyric, but that's not really want I wanted to talk about.

I'm just tired. I am so tired of men trying to talking to me thinking that my sex will be free. I feel so disrespected. Honestly, this is why I wore hijab back in college. I must have been a PYT or something, because I got hit on all the time. I remember one day, everyone from boys on campus to truck drivers to the police patrolling campus stopped to holler at me...all ages, all ethnicities. I am not a woman to immediately find that all fact, as a 19- and 20-year-old, I thought the attention was cute.

That was until one day, I didn't respond to the advances of a random boy on the street and he called me a ho.

A ho? Seriously? I'd never been called that before!

It was shortly after that experience that I wore hijab...and I got to be called a couple of other things that I had never been called before, spoken to in Arabic without understanding, but I also no longer got the attention of so many men and boys. Instead, doors were opened for me...literally, they opened doors for me. In the Dominican Republic, I was mistaken for a nun...

And I guess I've returned to my early 20s baseline, because this boy (he can't have been the same age as I am, but he was a bold young'un) followed me out of the T stop after they kicked us off of the T (something about Park Street station being on fire). He wanted my number but his phone had been turned off. Bad game, young blood, bad game.

But none of these men have honorable intentions. Hell, not even B did. He thought that since we were "in a relationship," we were just going to get it on, and I told him no. No, nope, nopers, as I used to say in high school. I fed him with a long-handled spoon for sure...and he bailed before I got deeper into something that, in the end, I recognized I would regret.

I'm tired of that! I'm tired of thinking I have to put up with that.

There were way too many things that I settled on with that last experience.

There is a key difference between my 20-year-old heyday and my 26-year-old now. The difference is, while I don't wear khimar, I'm more vocally, outwardly, spiritually Muslim than I was before I wore the khimar. Everyone I know knows I am Muslim, and that's why I don't smoke or drink or do X, Y and Z, and why I do pray and observe Ramadan and all else. As a result, I feel like there is a barrier around me, and men know to steer clear...except for B, who was a little bit of a fool in that regard.

And at first, I was bothered by it...I was thinking, am I incompatible with life? Now, I's actually a good thing. It's keeping these men with dishonorable intentions (it's not their fault, necessarily...they are products of this society where there is no such thing as premarital sex being dishonorable) away and not putting me in a position to compromise my own personal values...

At the same time, I recognize that Muslim men are not (necessarily) the solution. Ladies, I've done Muslim matrimonial sites before, and oh my gosh, that is sooo less than ideal in so many ways. I could expand. And no, I uphold that I am not being elitist or stuck-up to expect educational and financial compatibility. I have no aspiration to be the breadwinner of the household, nor do I want a house husband. I may in fact make more money, but I never dreamed and actually do not want to be the main one responsible for putting food on the table and a roof over heads, no.

And I couldn't trust that all of those guys from overseas were simply interested in me and not at all interested in getting to the US. Especially when they spoke French and could therefore not communicate with me.

So messed up in so many ways.

I don't like it, but I may have to just wait for someone to drop out of the sky, for real.

EDIT: Oh yeah, and PS...just because I am an American female doesn't mean that I've most certainly been in a series of relationships and most certainly have had sex before, so please do not try to ask me about if I've been tested for STDs in your first conversation with me. Seriously! Uggghhhhh...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

...and the crazy dreams continue!

As salaam alaikum,

I had a series of crazy, convoluted dreams last night. I feel like I dreamed the entire night.

In one dream, I was in the notorious mall of my dreams shopping in the women's clothing store for one of the characters in the novela I'm watching, Eunice. Eunice has very particular and expensive tastes, so I was pulling out things that I thought would appeal to her. I think I transitioned out of that dream before she tried anything on...

Also, lately in dreams, I've become people that I wasn't. In this other dream, I was living in Mexico and I was a Mexican-American woman who was pregnant. My husband was Mexican and he was the proprietor of a small neighborhood bar. Before my pregnancy, my husband and I would sometimes share a beer at the end of the day. But now I was pregnant, and he drank alone. One day, I decided that, like the women on the movies whose doctors said it was okay to drink wine every now and again during pregnancy, that it would be okay, if just this one time, to drink a beer while pregnant. So I took a flask of beer and sipped on it, hiding it behind my thigh when my husband came in so he wouldn't see it. It tasted so good (since I've never had beer in my life, I think it tasted like the ginger ale I drank before bed), I didn't think it would be a problem. So I sat by the window, looking out at the desolate countryside, sipping my beer, pregnant.

Then I switched back to being me. I was a fourth year medical student applying for residency. I felt my belly and I could feel the fundus of my uterus at the umbilicus. That made me about 20 weeks pregnant (yes, I was still pregnant). I suddenly became aware that I already had a little girl (maybe the little girl that I wanted to name Hasna from my dream that I had a baby for B) and that this one would be a boy. I was unmarried and not with the father, and I was still trying to complete my medical degree. I remember thinking how upset my mother would be if she found out and wondered how much longer I could keep it a secret. I looked in the mirror and sucked in my stomach, but it was no use. You could see the protrusion in my lower abdomen. I kept feeling the fundus and reflecting that it should have been a lot more uncomfortable. I resolved to practice my Leopold maneuvers on myself to know how to more gently touch a pregnant woman.

Even though this was my second pregnancy, I was still excited to feel the baby growing inside of me, to feel myself sustaining the pregnancy. I stopped pressing on my uterus for fear of causing myself to miscarry, which I acknowledged was a bit of a silly fear. And I reflected with satisfaction that I did not have hyperemesis gravidarum.

Then the last dream was a dream that was mixed Mad Men with medical school. One of my classmates was Cosgrove, and we were talking about how exclusive his apartment was. The apartment complex was connected to this agency we worked in, which was like in the middle of nowhere but the apartments were luxury and it was ultimate convenience getting to the office, though that meant you pretty much never left. We were going to sneak and check out his apartment without him knowing, but when we got ourselves into the lobby, there was a small buffet of fancy snack food waiting for us, as if we were in a conference. It was the realtor, I think, showing properties. So we stopped, and then Cosgrove and a cohort of my classmates came, bringing more food, making it a potluck. Soon, everyone was really my classmates from medical school, the ones who are graduating, mixed in with a few college friends. Then my mother and brother were at the end of the line, waiting for food. I hadn't seen my mother in a little bit, so I grabbed a pickle, which was more sweet than tart, and started talking to her about all of the food available.

With the parents of my family, the whole gathering became very sentimental. I don't think I was pregnant in this part of the dream.

I was in the process of making a plate when I woke up.

I had some other dreams, I believe, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rocket Love

As salaam alaikum,

Stevie Wonder always seems to capture my emotions...I guess he is my musical soul...composer.

An oldie but goodie that describes how I felt and continue to feel. Rocket Love.

"I longed for you since I was born, a [man] sensitive and warm, and that you were..." If I may switch genders.

You took me riding on a rocket, gave me a star, but at a half-a-mile from heaven, you dropped me back onto this cold, cold world...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

NPR's Lifting the Veil

As salaam alaikum,

Today was one of those days that I woke up and felt like screaming. The stress of moving compounded with my feeling lonely just got to me last night and I cried. My roommate tried to cheer me up, but it was to no avail, really. I just felt like a loser...I had 10 heavy boxes of books and binders from medical school and I as packing all alone.

As you may be able to tell, it's been a rough couple of months. Good things are happening in terms of school and my career, but my personal life right now is a little bit of a bust...a spiritual bust. I'm spiritually balanced in terms of my chosen career path, but in terms of my personal life...I don't know what to do.

But anyway, a couple of my friends posted this on facebook, and I really liked it. As someone who did hijab and then ceased, a lot of what these sisters are saying resonates with me.

NPR's Lifting the Veil

I agree with one of my facebook friends that they should have also included a feature on women who chose to wear it and why, talking about the challenges that they face and what motivates them to keep on wearing the scarf.

But at the same time, I say power to these sisters. May Allah (swt) guide us all along the moderate path, whatever that means to each of us individually.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Uncertain Spirituality

As salaam alaikum,

I woke up this morning angry. I'm still hurting because I haven't prayed enough about it. He doesn't miss me at all. He doesn't even think of contacting me, like, life goes on, like I meant nothing.

You can never know really what's in anyone's heart...but this is why it was always a mistake to be with a man with uncertain spirituality. And this can be anyone, no matter what religion he calls or does not call himself. A man of uncertain spirituality cannot really value a woman because he has not figured out the terms in which to value others in this life, the terms in which to value himself. This kind of man not only doesn't know what he wants, but he doesn't know how to value what he has, because this life has no certain value, and he's not sure if he believes in the next.

Or if he believes in the next, it's abstractly and that meaning doesn't translate to his life.

A man of uncertain spirituality doesn't bring his soul into relating with another person. He keeps it all safely at the periphery, so that he can escape to his solitude and his own self at any given time, brooding because he doesn't know what it means yet. He does not value the woman who was in his life so he does not miss the woman who was in his life, because he is uncertain of the value of just the mere presence of a person in his life.

I wish I had known from the outset that he was so spiritually broken, or I wouldn't have hurt myself to be with him. But I cannot belabor the point. We women have the tendency to cry after men who do not shed a tear for us, and so I haven't cried, but I also need to stop being angry, stop being hurt, just stop. I was messed over by a man that doesn't give a crap about me in the end. There's nothing I can do about it.

I shouldn't have settled. I shouldn't have sold myself short, but I don't know how to do anything but that, again and again. I thought he was the best I could do. But I'm a woman of certain spirituality, that's for sure. I'm growing, yes, and I make mistakes, yes, but I value other people in my life, and I value this life and the next and how everything is brimming with possibilities. Because of that, alhamdulillah, I can love. Because of that, I can make a difference in this life. And I'm blessed beyond measure to have made it to this juncture.

Will it hurt? Yes. It hurt as I felt him distancing, as I felt him losing feeling for me, as I felt myself slipping out of his life. I hurt every time that I remember how he told me that he lost attraction for me because of my weight, and how he must be stupid not to understand how hurtful it was for me that, just because of my physical appearance, I was no longer someone worthy to talk to, someone worthy to meet his mother, someone worthy to meet his family, someone to imagine a future with, not even the future of a couple of months forward. In spite of all of the beautiful that he said that I was to him, "on the inside."

But those are the marks of someone of uncertain spirituality. He wasn't ready.

But I'm ready. So I pray God to send me someone else who is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Man's World

As salaam alaikum,

I've been thinking about my life a lot lately, and the terms that I've grown to live in. A pivotal part of what I wanted in life was marriage and children, but now, I'm not so sure...

Though I'm angry at my ex for being mean, he didn't really do me wrong. No. He ended what probably would have soon started to not a distasteful way, yes, but he did it effectively. On the other hand, an aunt and uncle of mine are getting divorced because of my uncle's indiscretion,dividing a family that has been together since before I was born. I don't know the details, but it makes me angry to think of the times when a good woman has been done wrong.

A good woman. But not all women are good, just like not all men are bad.

Not all men are bad, but seriously, after hearing about some of the things they do, it makes me at least want to pistol-slap somebody...

But not all men are bad.

Part of me wishes that I had a dream that didn't involve a man so intimately. I wish I instead had a major career goal that I wanted all throughout life, or that I wanted to travel...male colleagues, I'm fine with. But to have to rely on a man to be a good husband and father? I'm starting to become skeptical.

My parents and grandparents are the only two solid marriages I know, and even my grandfather had his day, to say so respectfully. I don't want that. I don't want to end up in a marriage where I'm serially cheated on, where I'm verbally or physically abused, where the other person doesn't give two craps about me, really, and always has his mind or eye somewhere else. In a situation where a man simply sees me as a vessel for his children and a modified nanny and housekeeper. No.

I was thinking about it, and relating with a man puts us women in a vulnerable position. I mean, yes, in order to love, both men and women have to become vulnerable, but the vulnerability of women is much greater, even if it's just for the fact that we face the dangers of possible morbidity and mortality when bearing children. Depending on the ways we relate to men, not only do our lives change, but our anatomy and physiology changes.

I know for me in a relationship, I'm additionally vulnerable because I slip into the nurturing role really fast, making space for the man in my life, compromising more than I get back initially...leaving me vulnerable to being burnt.

I feel like no man is worth me being put into that vulnerable position if he's just going to crap over me later.

I wish I didn't want a family so much because then I wouldn't need a man. He could be my boss, my colleague, my patient, my father, my uncle, my brother, my cousin...but not my husband. It seems to risky and not worth the risk and the woe. I don't want to.

But there are good men, everyone says. Yes, and they won't be disappointed with one less woman on the market. Let them go!

I know we depend on each other. We were made for each other. We were made to complement each other in this life. I appreciate that. But I think what we have going here is a cohort of men who do not recognize this, devalue us, and what, I'm supposed to be sitting around like a good girl, hoping for that good man who will make my family complete?

No more.

I'm going to take a stand. Mark my words.

From this moment onward, I'm going to construct a new identity for myself, a new state of being. I'm going to create a new vision of myself that does not include marriage. I cry for my former dreams, but you know what, it's really not worth it. I've seen too many of the marriages in my family dissolve in chaos and unhappiness. I do not want to be one.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Woman Scream!

As salaam alaikum,

The most pleasant thing that happened to me today was that I got raspberried on the cheek.

That's right, raspberried on my right cheek. It's a long story, but I was at an after party for this cultural show that my public health school puts on, and at the time I had isolated myself into a corner of the venue, sitting with my coat in my lap, trying to wipe away tears. The only one who cared is a man who I've decried for months now. He's a friend of my roommate's. They were close friends in undergrad. I know of his various sexual escapades and his disregard for women in general. My roommate thinks this is all the reaction of a woman who did him wrong, but I heard he had a poor opinion of black women, too. So I was like, whatever on him.

And then he raspberried me on the cheek, and it wasn't all better, but it was okay.

Can I tell you about my life? Can I tell you about my life? Well, here it goes.

My parents didn't raise me for this world. They raised me very spiritually, to be in tune with God, to pray, to be conscious of God every day...they taught me a strong moral base, including the no-sex-until-marriage-dance, of all of the other standards, and yet they didn't teach me religion. I get out into the real world to discover, well oh crap, non-religious people like me aren't generally so spiritual...and the spiritual among us are usually more religious, and I'm neither.

Or so I thought this was all how it went.

So I went to college and got more religious. But I found that going religious is an endless path for some, some making it such that I could never be good enough, no matter how much I tried.

So I vacillated before I decided to return to the way I was, prior to being "religious" while still taking everything I learned from that time period and continuing to strive in the way of Allah (swt). That's what I aimed to do, anyway.

And while all of this is happening, I am a woman!

Can I tell you about my womanhood? Why is so much of who I am defined by men? Like, if I took away the concept of man in my life, what I think man to mean for a woman, what of woman would be left? Wo? Woe? I don't think so.

I'm angry at my ex. I'm angry because when he left he took with him a chunk that I had cleared space for, dedicated to him, and replaced it with emptiness. I was full before I met him, and he just unceremoniously dis-occupied the space I'd reserved for him. I'm angry!

I'm angry because I was out with my public health school friends tonight, watching one of my friends and her new "friend" making eyes at each other, eventually ducking out before anyone else notices that they're gone. That had been me just a little while ago. That had been me.

And dude has no idea how much I sacrificed and changed and modified and adapted to be with him. And then he's going to say some crap like, oh, well, I only expected you to be mad for a little bit, then you'd go back to being happy. Like he had no idea what he meant to me. And he doesn't deserve to know it...

He doesn't deserve to know that he was the answer to a prayer, a dream come true, what I always wanted but never thought I could have, even though it was all temporary. It was all temporary, and yet men have no inkling about these things. All so many of them want is sex, I feel like it. They'll do anything and say anything to get there, I feel like it. And I feel like they don't give two craps about how the woman they've tricked feels about it all.

I would be angry at myself for letting such an A-hole into my life, but at the same time, I'm not really angry. I'm just confused. I'm trying to figure out how to be as a woman, as a Muslimah. The middle path is a hard one to find. Maybe I shouldn't have given up on finding a solid community of Muslims to hang out with. Maybe my hanging out with all of these non-Muslims has corrupted me. I don't know. It just seems as if I was made to love, to nurture, to support my future partner, and I don't know how best to be to achieve that.

I sat there in the corner and I cried but I felt like screaming because there were no answers. I've gone between two poles, a more conservative pole and a more liberal pole. I wanted to scream because I realize that for so long I haven't been doing this for myself. I've been doing so many things, from the way I dress to the way I talk, for men, and invisible man, if you will, that may not even exist, and yes, it's enough to make one scream.

And here I was, sitting on a couch while everyone else is enjoying the party, crying because seeing my friend and her new friend reminded me of how my ex and I used to be, and thinking about my ex made me think about how, in order for him to break up with me over my weight, he must have never really cared about me and just told me lies when he said that he was thinking about marriage, that he would follow me for residency...lies and foolery. He never cared for me and he wasted my time. He wasted my emotional energy and of others. And now his memory was wasting my time.

I wanted to scream, why is this part so hard? What is the way that I'm supposed to be, as a woman, as creation of God. What role am I supposed to serve, because no matter how liberal this society says we are, I still feel an air of subservience.

I mean, look at me, I'm a grown woman with a lot of stuff to do on my own, and I'm letting the memory of my ex run my evening...

Because he led me on, he let me get comfortable with him, let me get used to the idea of naming my children Igbo names and then he got out, and is probably somewhere coding, tolerating mood swings, and acting like this never happened.

I just wanted to scream because I would love to, day after day, wake and not lament the fact that I'm still single. I want to be completely satisfied without having that special someone to love and nurture. I would love to be completely self-sufficient, but the deal is, I'm not. I want that love, tonight talking to my roommate and a friend I feel like I need that love.

But this after party was not the place to get it.

My roommate's friend saw that I was crying and sat with me and talked to me a little bit. He put his arm around me and nestled into me. Usually, I would shy away from such advances, but I know he is full of crap, so whatever. He asked me what was wrong, that he was wondering what happened, that there were so few black women there, we couldn't self-destruct. Something like that.

I smiled, told him I'd be okay. He didn't believe me. I told him it was because of my ex. He told me not to go down that road, and then he took his phone out and he had me play a game of Angry Birds. He asked if I wanted to keep the phone, and I told him, haha, no.

He was on his way out, so he hugged me goodbye. Then he grabbed me by the waste, pulled me closer and gave me a big raspberry (a kiss with a farting sound) on my cheek. I laughed and thanked him for cheering me up. He said he didn't cheer me up. I then thanked him for being concerned.

And I got up and rejoined my friends. I didn't want to scream anymore.

In spite of the fact that I'm still struggling to figure out how I want to be a woman in this more screaming for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


As salaam alaikum,

Yes, marriage. Marriage marriage marriage.

I'm tired of talking about marriage! I'm tired of talking about/thinking about how many Muslimahs are single, what their race/ethnicity is and if there's an epidemic. I'm tired of ingesting all of the statistics about single black women, single black mothers, never married black women and 10% of black prison, one in three black men to ever be incarcerated. I'm tired of this group who won't marry this group or this group that considers this group a prize, whether it's true or not.

I'm tired of it!

Because, you know, in the end, alhamdulillah, we're not marrying all of these people or the statistics! We're marrying one person. And alhamdulillah, He listens to our prayers.

I didn't end up with the last guy I actually intended to end up with because Allah (swt) is merciful. He was a mess and I was willing to overlook a lot of incompatibilities that would have made the relationship really hard for me. The more I examine the entire situation, the more that I see that it was really God intervening and pushing him gently out of my life, though he remained confused as to what was going on.

Sisters, that we remain single and haven't found someone yet is because it's still in the works. It's not that we're less deserving that anyone else or necessarily that we're less ready. It's all about a space and time thing, we humans that are bound by these dimensions. Outside of these dimensions and with Allah (swt) the answer is in existence. We will know, insha'Allah, when the time comes and the space is right.

I have to remind myself of this. If I could know that if I attempt another relationship, I'd end up with 2-10 more guys like the last one...and if I waited for the right one to come along, it may take x amount of time but it will be right, I'd totally wait that x amount of time. Allah (swt) knows what my heart desires, especially since I've been praying about it over the years.

I feel less bad about having been without prospects all of those years I was single because I know that I was avoiding just what I experienced in the last relationship.

But yes. We have to realize, we are not the statistics! We are individuals with our individual circumstance and individual faith. I am not every single Muslimah. I am not every single black woman. I have my own story, my own unique story that sets me apart and insha'Allah will attract whoever I shall marry.

And God knows the time and the place. I can't, but for the first time in my life I am sure that I will marry, someone, at some point. I know because I'm actively working towards it, prayerfully so as well, and I know from my last relationship that God really does answer our prayers. Although the relationship ended, it was an answer to a Ramadan prayer of mine that I realize is not done realizing itself, alhamdulillah.

So these will actually be my last words on marriage for a while. I'm taking at least a month-long marriage-talk hiatus...well, maybe less than that, since a friend of mine here is getting married in less than a month.

But other than that, I'm not fretting about marriage, I'm not philosophizing about marriage...I'm really tired of talking about it. Allah (swt) provides, and for those of us that He's made it hard for us, He's building our character and fortifying us for greatness...and the rest of this life.

Believe that! I am...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He Who Withdraws After His Whisper

As salaam alaikum,

A while ago, when I went home, I prayed with my mother for the first time in years. It was strange. We used to pray together when I was a kid. She still prays in English. After I got to college and learned my favorite surat and ayat in Arabic, I no longer prayed with her. Although I learned salat from her, I was impressed how small manners in the way that we pray are different.

Although many would shudder at the fact that my mother still prays in English years after her conversion, I don't, actually. It helped me out a lot that the first I ever heard of the Qur'an was in a language that I could understand, such that certain surat stand out in my mind to this day because I heard them before I was old enough to understand. And I still hear them in my mother's voice, reciting them quietly in the dark room, the guest room that we called the prayer room. This one just came to mind. I usually use Asad translations but when I was little, my mother read from Yusuf Ali.

"Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, The King (or Ruler) of Mankind, the God (and Judge) of Mankind,--From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),--(the same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,--Among Jinns and among men." (114:1-6).

One of my Muslim friends once admitted to me that she did not believe in Satan. I know several non-Muslims who certainly don't. For them, Satan is an allegorical, mythical entity that, as I was taught about the Biblical version of Adam and Eve in high school, made a bet with God that he could cause the fall of mankind. For my Muslim friend, Satan is used to condemn her actions in this world, to vilify those who should not be vilified. Satan's name is used to create a scapegoat for other people's own sins, people judging and measuring whose sins are greater.

But I feel like denying Satan is falling into Satan's trap. Denying Satan is giving that force free reign in your life.

I don't know how I conceive of Satan fully. I try not to think to much about it, because it is decidedly disturbing which is why I think some people deny it. I just know that, a little bit ago, I felt the force of Satan explicitly in a way I never thought possible before.

Just a little bit after my breakup, I had a feeling, the same type of feeling I felt when I saw B this time last year and suddenly realized that we were going to have a story together, that I was going to end up with him. The same feeling I got in the last month of our relationship when I realized that he would not be the one. A couple of days after the breakup, I got the feeling that everything will be alright, and what I actually want in my life is forthcoming, sooner than I expect, so soon that I shouldn't even worry about the breakup.

I told my mother and I told my best friend recently. I trust this feeling. I know that this is really all the answer to my prayers in sequence. Sometime soon, I don't know when, but what I've always wanted is going to come to pass, and ridding myself of B (or rather, him ridding himself of me) is facilitating it all.

But as I began to really embody this feeling, there was a nay-saying voice within me, the same voice that made me eventually forget that B and I were going to end up together...Satan realized himself as that nay-saying voice for me.

And I recognized that voice throughout my life. It's not like hearing voices like delirium or anything, it's like that "intuition," that reverse gut feeling that one actually has that makes you deny your gut feelings...before anyone thinks I've got schizoaffective disorder in this piece, no.

Gut feelings I think sometimes are God feelings, His reassurance to you. Satan doesn't want you to have any part of that. As soon as I started becoming an adult, I let that voice rule me. I was a beautiful young girl with a lot of potential and a lot of life to live, but I found myself crippled by a voice that told me I was nothing, that I was fat, that God in fact intended me for Hell as my predestination and there was nothing I could do about it.

Fast forward now almost ten years (wow, I'm getting old). I had this feeling that brought me comfort, and then there was that nay-saying voice trying to beat it out of me, so what? So I would mope around for the month after the breakup, so I would fall into the trap of doubting God...

But I fight that naysayer every day. Now that I recognize what it is and that it's a force that wants to see me fare poorly in this life, wants to see me not realize and maximize my blessings on this earth, I will keep it far away from me.

I was just writing an email to a friend about the version of Adam and Eve in the Qur'an, and it just made me think about where we are, how we got here, and how we'll get back to where we're intended to that special state of grace, close to God. God made us, and it goes without saying that he was fully knowledgeable about our tendency toward corruption and violence on earth, as the angels questioned him about his intentions in creating human beings. He told them that He knows what they don't know. He instilled within us the ability to reason and learn, "the names of all things." The angels, who are perfect in their submission to God, bowed to us by His command, except for Satan, who was arrogant. Satan was all like, you created me out of fire, and human beings out of clay...and I'm  to bow to that?

Satan was cast down but asked for respite. Satan, in his continued arrogance, tempts human beings out of their state of grace before God by encouraging us to disobey God, something that we have the capacity to do because of the way we are created. Our tendency to fall into Satan's traps keeps us from that state of grace while we're in this life, but God never leaves us alone, providing for us guidance...(2:30-39).

Satan doesn't want us to even have an approximation of that state of grace on this earth. He comes from in front of us and behind us, from the left and the right of us, as it says in the Qur'an (7:16-17). My mother told me this a while back and I always remember it. Satan is not just telling human beings to be stingy and not give to the poor, or to be physically or verbally abusive, to steal or kill people. It is the force that helps people to spin religion into something oppressive. It helps people make religion hard to practice. It helps people exclude their believing brothers and sisters, all in the name of protecting the faith and retaining a sense of orthodoxy.

That's why the moderate path is so important in Islam. Some people feel safe being more liberal or more conservative, being to the left or right, but Satan lays in wait on either side, no matter how forward or backward we are, he's there, too.

While I can't speak for anyone else's depression, mine was definitely the work of that nay-saying force that succeeded for all of those years in making me feel less than precious creation. It made me (and still makes me) doubt my beauty and doubt what I know God has promised me. It makes me miss out on all that is beautiful about this world and miss out on my blessings, tempting me to stray.

Well, today, I rebuke that voice, I realize my blessings and I realize my beauty and I realize my status as precious creation. I accept the guidance that God has given for me to approximate that state of grace into which I was born, into which we all came to be, and hope that my soul will continue in that state of grace when my time on this earth is over.

The spirit of arrogance will not make me feel less than what I am. I have a lot of work to do, but here's for rebuilding myself.