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's...no, 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 known...it'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 unattractive...you 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.

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