Monday, December 3, 2012

Beauty's Soundtrack

As salaam alaikum,

Beauty's soundtrack would have to include this song. Always love it!

Beautiful is my brother, eternally my baby brother, not because of his autism, but mostly because for the first few years of his life, I could not pronounce his name, and that's what his name was. Baby Brother. Or, as I pronounced it, Baby Bwodda.

And this song reminds me of the times when he's revealed himself, when he's recalled things we shared before he could speak, before he made eye contact, before he could sit still in a chair. It reminds me of all those times I've cried. Such a beautiful cry and such a beautiful feeling to recall.

And the beauty of the music of this song, and hearing the verse about Sa Marina making everyone cry after entertaining them, making everyone sing...just the catharsis of a day of enjoyment closed with tears of joy...

Beauty's soundtrack, I'm telling you...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All of My Stuff, Revisted

As salaam alaikum,

I was suddenly reminded of this poem from For Colored Girls when talking to a friend a few days ago. I looked for the entry about a year ago when I quoted it, and I read it, closed my eyes and remembered where I was, and thanked God how far I have come.

Here's the excerpt I then most identified with:

somebody almost run off wit alla my stuff
& i waz standin
lookin at myself
the whole time 
& it waznt a spirit took my stuff
waz a man whose 
ego walked round like Rodan’s shadow
waz a man faster
n my innocenc

waz a lover
i made too much 
room for
almost run off wit alla my stuff
& i didnt know i’d give it up so quik
& the one runnin wit it

don’t know he got it
& i’m shoutin this is mine
& he dont 
know he got it
my stuff is the anonymous ripped off treasure
 of the year
did you know somebody almost got away wit me
me in a plastic bag under their arm
danglin on a string of personal carelessness...

At the time, I know I didn't feel as if I had recovered everything back yet. I said it, hoping to claim it, but there was still desperation in my words. Why are we women like this, I wondered.

One year after I wrote that first entry, he has nothing of mine. Not a strand of my hair nor my taste in his mouth. My body and my spirit are all my own, all my own stuff that God gave me and I'm not letting anyone take it away anymore, not under their arm, stuck to the sole of their shoe or tucked in their butt crack.

And it's a very liberating thing to realize, in the midst of what had been angst and longing for the day where I wouldn't not be hurting.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What is Marriage Now?

As salaam alaikum,

I thought about my desire for motherhood being perhaps at odds with my faith, my faith in God's will, and I thought about what marriage means for me now, and how that's different than before.

Because I haven't sat and thought what marriage means for me now. Not yet. Not until now.

The first thing that comes to mind is that marriage, for me, when optimum, is the optimum environment for raising a family. And, as I mentioned in my previous entry, one of my greatest aspirations is to be a good mother. And as a good mother, I desire my partner also to be a solid parent. If not, I'd rather him not involved. Okay.

...and, what else do I want in marriage? Now?

Because before, it was different.

In the height of unrequited love, marriage was all these lofty words and phrases, the likes of Djavan's "Doidice," not believing that I existed in a world he also existed, wanting to live in his blue like Elis' "Só Tinha de Ser Com Você." The Carpenters' "Close to You." Like that feeling would last forever and whatever life threw at us, whatever God ordained for us, we would survive because of

In loveless, pragmatic but admittedly still hopeful times, marriage was esoteric. There existed no soul mates but there was right. Or fit. Whichever one's pleasure. There was most importantly spiritual compatibility, commonality in the most essential values between us, shared aspirations, mutual admiration, mutual attraction. This was the optimum. And as long as I prayed, God would provide this for me.

But none of these, is in fact, marriage. I don't know what marriage is, and I won't know until I live it. These are, at best, the ideas of mine that would lead to me wanting to marry someone. Fair enough.

What would it take now? Do these things still apply?

I wanted to say no, but as I thought more about it...yes, they do.

I wanted to say that real relationships are not limited by the expansive love vocabulary of my unrequited love experience, and I wanted to say that my pragmatic view was also limiting. And I do think that's true. But I know many a loving couple who would describe their relationship, sometimes, with that expansive love language, and many times speak of their relationship pragmatically, in terms of compatibility and mutual attraction.

I know there are people who do believe that they've found their soul mate, so it is, in fact possible, and my wanting anything less than what is possible for me, yes, would be settling, even though I tried to tell myself otherwise.

Marriage, for me, has not changed, has not become some more circumscribed, realist version of its previous self. It is children and gushy love and fit. Its some balance of those things, not the perfect balance, but the balance that works. Above all, it's a partnership with some sort of shared notion of the arrangement, the contract, the relationship, however its viewed by the couple.

I have no idea how I'm going to get there, but insha'Allah, I'm going to get there, or bust!

Friday, November 23, 2012

[Uncensored]: Want At Odds

As salaam alaikum,

As I walked home from the hospital this afternoon, wishing that I could fly (like, literally, with my own wings) instead of walking home in the rain, though well-equipped with my Boston umbrella and my boots, I had two thoughts for entries.

One was about my feelings about my getting married one day, how those feelings have changed and current threads of ambivalence.

But before that, I think I need to talk about this.

I was born Muslim and raised Muslim by a Muslim mother, a fact that I still unfortunately feel like I have to defend. But never mind that. Separate from that upbringing, I embraced Islam as a teenager and young woman. I guess I still am a young woman. Young womanhood is a long road.

Anyway, I embraced Islam so tightly for a simple fact. It was in line with something that is really important to me: being a good mother.

Separate and prior to my understanding of the importance of motherhood in Islam, one of my greatest aspirations in life was to have children. Marriage itself usually waxes and wanes depending on various subjects of attraction, but the want to have children has remained pretty much a constant. In the time when I had no particular object of attraction, marriage was simply the (very necessary) means to the end.

And Islam was entirely compatible with three of my core desires: to have strong faith in God, to be a good mother, and to do things the most right.

One could say this about other of the monotheistic faiths. If my mother hadn't been Muslim, maybe I would have been Christian or whatever other religion. But, my mother was Muslim, and I came to understand Islam as the way to do things the most right, including motherhood. Within the Qur'an and in Sunnah, I came to understand, existed an irrefutable formula to live the most right, to be the best mother I could be on this earth, and to have the strongest faith in God as possible. The more I followed this formula to the letter, the more I could be assured that I could have my three core desires.

The problem is, in life, just as in Islam, there are no guarantees. It's all insha'Allah.

Secularly, you can't always get what you want. Sing along!

As a young woman, I wanted to do everything the most right. I am still a young woman, and I still do. I wanted to marry young, meet a good Muslim man and start a family. After all, everything I read and everyone I knew told me that this is what God wanted us to do...this was our nature. Marry, raise families, raise them to follow the Straight Way. why was it not happening for me? I was praying, I was striving, shouldn't it have happened? Maybe I wasn't making my prayers timely enough and maybe I hadn't reached a level of striving...

And then came the stark realization, after years of praying, Ramadans passed with that one prayer remaining unanswered, crying and begging and pleading and wondering if crying invalidated my prayers.

It's all insha'Allah. It's not a definite.

I came into a way of life because it was compatible with my desires. But, as part of this way of life, I have to recognize that I may not get what I want, even if it's ordained for us as human beings, because it may not be God's will. As a Muslimah, I needed to learn to be content with being alone with the prospect of never having children...when that's never what I signed up for.

But we much less sign up for life than religion, and the secular perspective is much crueler. Life's a bitch.

What becomes complicated is when you realize that your Islam, your way of life, is not as compatible with you as you would though. That in your efforts to try to do things right, that one of your greatest desires, you could actually be precluding something else that you want, which is something pure and good to be a mother, and a good one. I say this because I have lived so long in a way that totally precludes my ever marrying, or every marrying in time enough to have my own children.

Being a Muslimah means sacrificing what I want that may be the thing that drew me to Islam in the first place in favor of a greater good, greater purity, greater goal...

And I found myself in desolation and desperation because my wants were at odds with my faith.

Which they can be for any of us at any time.

Because if we are extremely fatalistic, anything we want that we don't get is clearly not God's will, because we didn't get it. This breeds struggle at best, disbelief at the other extreme. Especially when the things we want are reasonable things, things we feel entitled to as believers, as human beings...

Want at odds.

Would I rather be a mother or a Muslim? I'd rather be Muslim.

Would I rather be a good mother or a good Muslim? I'd rather be a good mother.

Would I rather be a good mother or a Muslim? I'd rather be a good mother.

Of course, I don't believe the latter two statements to be mutually exclusive. Yes, the latter two.

I just...months ago I found myself in a conundrum, where I believed that in order to have sufficiently strong faith, I should rather be single for the rest of my life with no children than to have a family and be a good mother, what I most want, which in itself is farther from guarantee than having children itself.

And I couldn't say that. I couldn't rather be single for the rest of my life with knowledge of my strong faith in God. So I'm not.

The fact remains, nothing is guaranteed. It's all insha'Allah. I'm less guaranteed to be a good mother than a mother at all. I chose a way of life that was compatible with my own personal desires and many of my values. My way of life may be compatible with those desires but does not guarantee those desires much more, if any more, than if I had existed in my native state, outside of my understanding of Islam, within the innocence of the religion my mother taught me.

But it's relatively illogical that I should desire so much to bring children into the world. For what? For them to suffer through some of the same emotional and spiritual struggles that their mom has and did, and those of their own? Why are some of us so intent on reproducing ourselves?

This led me to question what I saw in marriage, besides securing someone with whom to reproduce.

Next time, though...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Carne e osso / Mindfulness

As salaam alaikum,

I'm on a string of three nights. Three nights at the beginning of the block, three nights at the end. It's not bad. I admitted three patients last night, none of them particularly sick. We'll see who of them is still here.

I'm drowsy. I'm status post Benadryl to help me sleep the five hours that I did, and I've been napping intermittently since. I slept for 15 hours yesterday and the night proceeding, together, so that usually explains why I'm not able to get the full 7 hours in the next day. I'm sleepy and its the perfect mindset for a ritual de mis piernas type of exercise, Neruda style. I'm in bed, my own body, carne e osso, is before me. No one else to regard it but me. The pale of my winter-coloring skin, the fat of my thigh, the bend of my knee is all there before me. And there's nothing magical about this moment. I'm just a woman in her pajamas, looking at her body, a body that is not so remarkable, not so much unlike any woman else's.

And I reflected on how life, for me, has slowly lost its mystical nature, and in a way has been reduced to the very carnal, very temporal nature of my own body, my own legs. It's like spiritual atrophy, and I'm not sure I like it.

Have I been much more emotionally stable because of it? Absolutely. But did I take that stability in exchange for my sense of wonder and awe at the transcendental nature of life? Not intentionally.

It all started when I attempted mindfulness, something that was not a new concept to me as I begun residency but something that was reinforced by one of our faculty members. Mindfulness. Living one day, or even one moment, at a time. Recognizing things for what they are. They are what they are, essentially. If you're having a bad day, it's just a bad day. There are bad days and good days in life. Don't whip yourself into a frenzy, thinking about the significance of this bad, or beating yourself up for not being happy all the time. Happiness at all times is not a characteristic of life. Tristeza não tem fim, felicidade sim, though not exactly. Both are temporal, both wax and wane as a matter of life. Live in the moment, don't stress too much about the future...not next year, not next block, not tomorrow, not even next shift.

Living so much in the moment has driven so many of my decisions in the last five months. It's been transformative and has led me to a place of emotional stability that I have not previously known. I'm no longer beating myself up if things feel too hard, if I have a bad day, or anything else. I no longer presume my own fundamental insufficiency as a human being is at the bottom of my bad days...or that my own prowess is responsible for my good days. Life is ebb and tide. I love obstetrics, but there were days of the rotation where I was fine not delivering another baby, ever. Doesn't mean I don't have what it means I was tired, I was under a lot of stress, and it's okay to feel that way.

I used to live life so differently. Not only was my eye constantly to tomorrow, the next block, the next year, my eye was fixed on the Hereafter. My life was constantly projected out to some place I never was. Future career, future husband, future children, future self. I was rarely cognizant of who I was in the moment.

And if I stopped to notice, I would have been more aware of who I actually am right now and what I actually want, now. Not who I believe I should be, for which my current self is never enough. My should be self was the image on which I based everything I wanted, everything I wanted in the future. But maybe, just maybe, I was never meant to be this image of future self.

Maybe the point of it all is that I should take what I've been blessed with and work with what I have.

Mindfulness does not have to be the antithesis of spirituality. My first passes with it were that way, though. I'm not sure why.

I guess it's because my version of spirituality, as much as I decried it, was unbalanced between the now and the Hereafter. In my spiritual vision, we weren't gifted now for nothing. Now is not simply a trial or a temptation. There's a lot of now that matters for our creation of self, a self that, yes, will transcend this time, space, this carne e osso, this ritual de mis piernas, all of these limited dimensions.

So how will mindfulness instruct my spirituality?

I live in the moment. I live right now, in today. I pray every day, for what is now, for what is in front of me, for what I am most capable of sensing and experiencing. I cannot sense my future or my final destination. I pray for guidance and protection each day. I pray for continued mercy each day. I do concern myself with the Hereafter, but no longer how my future self can attain it. I focus on what I can do, in each and every day, to elevate my own soul.

Mindfulness, I think, will actually revamp my spirituality. Mindfulness, I think, is better than my former mysticism, of a world where there was a mysterious and hidden balance of acts and consequences, of intended and predetermined pathways drawn out, and we're just along for the ride, sometimes able to find the deeper meaning in our everyday, in our path. I still believe that this is true, but it doesn't behoove me to think this way. It's very anxiety provoking when every interaction, every event in life has some sort of spiritual, cosmic meaning that is making me into who I am supposed to be. By the grace of God, I will become who I am supposed to be.

But in being so farsighted, I miss out on the little things, the little deeds of each day. The little ways I can be a better person.

And eis que chega mindfulness. I am living right now. I submit to God right now. Instead of thinking how I can submit better tomorrow, or in the future, and stressing about how I'll get there, and propping myself against other invisible entities, like community and future husband, to get me to that sweet spot, how can I submit right now? Because right now is what I have. I never have tomorrow, not only because it's not guaranteed, but because it is not yet tomorrow. Tomorrow is a nebulous thing and is the reason why we can procrastinate so much, because there is always another tomorrow.

I have right now. For me, submitting is being in all ways a better human being to myself and those around me. There are very little ways I can do this each day that I ignore because I live too far into the big picture, into an ideal that I will, in fact, fail to realizing if I don't live where God placed me. In the body He placed me, in the time and space He placed me, in the context.

When I embraced mindfulness, I let go of a woman I will never be and embraced the woman that I am. And I'm being real with myself in a way I never have. And I'm reconstructing a religious and spiritual paradigm that works for me, that is still compatible with praying in jammah but is altogether particular to me.

The spiritual realm reenters my life but is no longer synonymous with the self-oppressive paradigm it used to be. The self limiting. I'm my only liable limitation. No one else makes me an inivisble Muslimah but myself. I am so blessed to be my only limitation. Not everyone is so free.

I know who I am, I know who I ain't. And I'd never be satisfied with just being carne e osso. Living in now is an awesome exercise, but it doesn't take away my belief in the dimension that exists outside of space and time, making my now irrelevant when I'm able to transcend these limits upon my separation from this body.

Monday, October 29, 2012

[Music Mondays]: I Deserve

As salaam alaikum,

Nothing much. I just looked at my gchat status, which read, "Just smile for me and let the day begin," and looked at my smiling face opposite the status. It was a picture where I was tired like I am now, a third year medical student on my my medicine rotation, with more moisturized, healthier hair than I've had in a while. It was a sweet face. As much as I do admire myself when I look in the mirror, I can't say I've ever thought of myself before. And coupled with those words, all I could think was,

"I deserve to be loved."

"Just smile for me and let the day begin," is the opening stanza to Jeffrey Osborne's  "On the Wings of Love." This was one of my first favorite songs...probably third, actually. My first favorite song was "Stand by Me," by Ben E. King, especially the violin interlude. I must have been under five when I liked this song. My second favorite song was, "With You," by Tony Terry, when I was six.

When I was seven, "On the Wings of Love" was my favorite. I remember sitting on the beige couch in the living room of my childhood home, my legs hanging over the edge and not reaching the floor beneath my feet. My family didn't have our first CD player yet, not for a few more months. It was 1992. My parents were going through their records and playing songs. For some reason, they decided to play, "On the Wings of Love." I heard the song and I was instantly transfixed. I loved it. The song was 10 years old at that point, but I didn't know. I just knew it was the most beautiful song I'd ever heard, and I asked my parents to play it again, and a third time. I listened to it and stared at the dark wood paneling of our family room with a feeling of transcendence, contentment, exhilaration, like I was let into a secret at that moment that everyone comes to know in life.

And it wasn't really the lyrics. At seven, I wasn't worried about love. Not as worried as I would be at 12, maybe because of growing up with lyrics like these. But not at 7. It was the instrumentation, it was the vocals, it was sitting between my parents and them both liking the song, and me being one of them. One of the lovers of this song. It was everything at once. It was childhood being so full and new and replete for me, it was the contrast of the twinges of embarrassment I felt from my brother with autism sometimes, it was tension in the string cords, it was a pop song that was fully orchestrated like they already weren't anymore.

All things I wasn't able to put into words at 7.

It would be my favorite song until I was about 19, even after Janet got lonely, after Lauryn reminded us not to forget the deen, until Stevie suggested that I, too, should be overjoyed, the first time I would identify so completely with lyrics of a love song.

I had a hard night last night. I think the nearby recent seismic activity set a lot of women in labor. Or it was a full moon. Whatever the reason, I worked nonstop from 11:00pm to 8:30am. I saw 8 women in triage, pushed with and assisted 2 deliveries, and tended to my laboring women. I put so much into my work that I sometimes feel emotionally drained at the end of a day. I came home feeling like retreating into myself and not coming out. I imagined not talking to my friends and co-residents anymore, only being present when social activities were required. Working removes completely one of my dimensions, the dimension in which I most often reside at rest. There's little energy left for that dimension after work.

I was tired, but before I went to sleep, before I could start feeling sorry for myself and before I could, once again, begin to despise myself, I saw the Jeffrey Osborne lyric on my status, and though I know the lyric well, I had to see it completed.

And then I saw my face next to it. My tired, smiling face, probably like how I looked for much of the night. And for the first time in my life, I had a glimpse for just a few seconds of how I must look on the outside, to others.

I don't know if it was the depersonalizing experience of being a physician or the fact that I took two Benadryl just before and was getting sleepy.

Music sounds different when you're sleepy and in the dark, by the way.

But that was a sweet face of a sweet girl. And how sweet that you hover over my status and see my smiling face and get the message "Just smile for me and let the day begin." Even though most will not get the reference.

And I looked at that girl with that face and knowing as much about her as I do, all I could think was, "You deserve to be loved."

And I've never been able to say that about myself before. And I've never felt it so sincerely.

And I'm not talking about up and above the clouds love like Jeffrey belts about. Just love. Because life is precious, and by extension, so am I, and independently, by God's grace, so am I.

I can only imagine how I looked putting my hands over my patients contracting belly, breathing deeply with her, closing my eyes ans I felt the contraction to feel its strength, to evaluate her labor, and all I can think is, she deserves to be loved.

I can only imagine how I looked pulling my patient's newborn son from the birth canal, setting him on her chest on the blanket laid out by the nurse as his red lips trembled and mom trembled and as I trembled as I collected cord blood and I think, she deserves to be loved.

So, just smile for me and let my day begin. I really do love a smile.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Only Liable Limitation

As salaam alaikum,

First of all, Eid Mubarak to my Muslim family!

In 2002, I was introduced to the hauntingly symbolic song and video by OutKast, "The Whole World." What could be dismissed as just another goofy OutKast song for me as a 17 year old was full of social commentary. The song's chorus for me symbolized the plight of the black man in the United States over time.

The whole world loves it when you don't get down...Michael Jackson, by then no longer remembered as the Prince of Pop but as a child molester.

And the whole world loves it when you make that sound...every eye-bucking, shucking and jiving or just trying to make a living in the guise of buffoonery black comedian ever.

And the whole world loves it when you're in the news...OJ Simpson (umm, who can write a doctoral dissertation on the racial dynamics of the OJ Simpson trial? Many of us can...).

And the whole world loves it when you sing the blues...

I'm not sure why it struck me so much as the black man at that time, but I realize it could also apply to other celebrities. In general, people love to be entertained by the lives and misfortunes of others. And the video, with the all-black circus backdrop and the mainly white male cooperate audience clapping in unison really gave me that feeling...

Meanwhile, while the show seems to be all for the entertainment of this off-putting audience, Dre and Big Boi (can't say much for the guest artist who wins the prize of fitting as many sexual references and as much double entendre as he can into his section) drop a lot of critical analysis at the time.

The one lyric that hit me recently that has a lot to do with where I am now, spiritually, is the following:

"The only liable limitation is yourself."

The only liable limitation is yourself, huh?

Let me tell you about me being my only limitation for becoming all I want to be...

I think that, in the years since becoming a more practicing Muslim, I've too often looked outside, to others, to complete my identity as a Muslimah. I came into practice seeking a community to help me. There were many communities that I've been a part of or was at the fringes of, but none of them in particular helped me. I tried to hard to be a part and in the process lost some of myself and my original motivation for practicing more along the way. I ended up spending many years morphing myself into what I thought others wanted me to be instead of actually nurturing my natal spirituality.

While God reminds us that we are in loss, "except for such as have faith, do righteous deeds and join together in the mutual teachings of truth," that joining together in the mutual teachings of truth does not have to be within a discrete Muslim community, and it does not have to be with Muslims only. We Muslims, after all, do not have the market cornered on Truth. Truth has many dimensions, and as a Muslim without a Muslim community at this point, it would be negligent of me to ignore those other dimensions of Truth while not in the company of my coreligionists.

I can live the Truth that is our purpose in help each other through life, with others than Muslims. Insha'Allah I do this daily through my profession.

I am my own liable limitation. I should not have waited with bated breath for a community to embrace me for my identity and practice as a Muslimah to be complete.

When a community that I fit into seemed out of my reach, I then looked to marriage. I didn't need a Muslim community per se if I acquired a good Muslim husband and therefore built a Muslim family. Maybe the husband would come with a community I could thereafter fit into. Then not only would my identity as a Muslimah have been complete, but I would be fulfilling my duties as a marry and build a household dedicated to Allah (swt).

I didn't realize that this had nothing to do with my practice as a Muslimah, either.

I am not limited by a lack of community or the lack of a good, pious, egalitarian, professional, whatever other adjective Muslim man seeking me for marriage. I didn't seek practice as a Muslim to join a group or to get married. I thought they were necessary, but really, we are born alone and we die alone. The community or husband I wait upon to complete my life will not be there to vouch for me when I die, that I was a good Muslim. It just is and has always been me, myself and Allah (swt).

My non-Muslim co-residents, when I talked about my long-standing discomfort in praying in public places that are not mosques or my own home, offered 5 locations on campus where I could pray. And I've been using them with comfort, alhamdulillah. Some of these people who offered me places to pray don't even believe in God, and yet they respect me and my beliefs. And we can be colleagues together, living the Truth that is the guarantee of health care for all.

I love being in the company of a man who has always respected my beliefs and practices and perhaps has a greater understanding of them, having been raised with a Muslim background

It has never been more evident to me that I am my only limitation in being the Muslimah I want to be. I may never have that Muslim community or that Muslim husband that unifies my practice, but I will have a community and insha'Allah a husband that complement, not supplement, me as I nourish my natal spirituality.

I have always been my own limitation. I drew boxes on a plane in two dimensions and tried to fit myself into them, but I'm three dimensions. God have mercy on me if the way that I choose is errant and leaves jagged edges on my soul, but God please guide me aright anyway, though I err. Ameen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Hate to Admit it, but...

As salaam alaikum,

I hate to admit it, but...

I'm still slightly freaked out by E.T. I saw the updated poster for the movie...his arm looked too skinny. I didn't like it. I had to navigate away from the page for fear of having a movie nightmare.

What is a movie nightmare?

A nightmare where you are watching a movie you've seen several times and you slowly realize that it's not going as you remembered it, just to come to a head near the end of your dream when things are terrifyingly different and someone tries to force you to continue looking at the screen as scary music starts to play in the background.

Insha'Allah, I will not have such a dream tonight! I'm praying on it!

Since childhood, I've had odd dreams and odd things I've found scary. Monsters? I never had a schema for those. When I was a 4 year old, I was afraid of microwaves and VCRs. VCRs in the 1980s had horrible tracking, sometimes manual tracking, and sometimes VHS tapes did not withstand the test of time or children under 5. So sometimes the video would be messed up or (worse) the sound would be warped. And I hated that...I used to have nightmares about that.

And microwaves...something must have happened as a kid, but I still have a specific phobia surrounding things I can't even discuss for fear of my throat beginning to close up.

The movie nightmare is a dream sequence that has stood the test of time in my scariest nightmares. I've had dreams that I've been pursued by murderers, that loved ones are dying, that I'm in a car accident, but nothing is so scary to me as the movie nightmares and the likes of them.

Anything that warps and bends reality in a way that is nonsensical. I mean, I could get into a car accident, or a family member could die.

But E.T.'s body being too skinny or the wrong color or his voice sounding completely different in a dream of the movie that I'm watching...I hate those! It takes me so long to get back to sleep!

That's why it amuses me so much that other people were afraid of such logos as this when they were kiddos, and how many of them post these on YouTube.

I'm not the only weirdo scared by odd things! Sweet!

...insha'Allah I'll sleep like a log and not be scared in my sleep...

Monday, October 1, 2012


As salaam alaikum,

This is adapted from a letter I wrote to some of my closest cousins.

Relating to another person has made me realize how much I lived within myself, or at the very least in my own discrete, alternate reality. The longer you live there, the harder it is to get out, the harder it is to convince yourself that anyone but someone who fits into that reality will work out.

I lived in a world informed by 60s-90s soul music, musica popular brasileira and post-bop jazz. I lived to the beat of samba and New Jack Swing. I lived in a world where the way that I thought was the essential reality and everything outside was complementary at best, extraneous at worst.

Relating to someone who won't automatically understand why I sometimes utter the lyrics, "A gente quer ter voz ativa, no nosso destino mandar, mas eis que chega a roda viva, e carrega o destino pra la..." is a given. I've lived by myself, in myself for so long, so much of me only makes sense to me. So much of me is garbled and nearly unintelligible. So much of me related to watching the play "Turandot," and hearing Turandot utter that she was a daughter of Heaven and there her soul resided, just to be reminded by her aspiring lover that her soul may be in Heaven but her body was right there with him.

It's not that I bethought myself a daughter of Heaven or thought that my soul transcended this earth. It's that...while my spirit is not as easily accessible, my body is very accessible.

I'd been waiting for a man to relate to my spirit, which I fretted would never happen because it would seem so hard to do. What would a man do with a waxing-and-waning practicing Muslim woman who belts out to Stevie and Elis and cries at the end of Black Orpheus with tears of joy as the children dance after the death of Orpheus and Eurydice?

And I didn't realize, he doesn't have to.

He doesn't have to dig deep or travel far to access my soul. My body's here with him. My soul remains my own.

So I'll still believe that "We want to have an active voice, command in our own destiny, but along comes the wheel of life and carries destiny far away..." and listen to the very 60s style song by Chico Buarque by myself, in my car, blasting it down the highway and be content that no one else understands why I love that song so much.

And he doesn't have to.

And for the first time, that's okay.

Monday, September 24, 2012


As salaam alaikum,

I read something earlier today that was disorienting to me. It was the good type of disorienting, though, the type of disorienting that makes you think.

And question where you are, and if where you are is truly where you need to be.

I'm not sure. But it led me to think about the balance between life, objectively and subjectively. Those of us with a religious or spiritual leanings believe that there is Truth, and it is objective, and we all aspire to do our best to approximate that Truth.

Some of the details of how we get there are subjective. To believe that there is no subjectivity in the living of life and the approximation of Truth is oversimplifying faith and life. There are many ways to God, some more meritorious than others, a measure which we will never know.

The hard part of life as a believer is balancing the objective with the subjective. The absolute with the variable. If y = mx + b, and x is time and y is the approximation of the Truth, b of course being constant, how much of how we should live our lives is m and how much is b? How much of the Straight Way is constant and how much of it varies with time?

Life as a believer is a lot of balancing the subjective correctly with the objective. The middle path is hard because there's no obvious middle, no obvious balance. One cannot approach the objective without balancing somewhat their subjective, or else they'll find themselves overstepping limits, out of bounds, even to the right, conservative side of things.

Wouldn't it be easier if we could approximate the Truth, the objective, without having to worry about the pesky subjective? But this is how we were created, with the subjectivity of life to face. This is part of our purpose.

Conspicuously, balancing the subjective is part of our objective as believers.

The other side is, of course, not believing in the objective. That there is no objective to life. Just the subjective. With no objective, there's no need to balance.

And as disorienting as I am with questioning if I'm picturing life too subjectively and I need to bring more objective into my life...more disorienting to me would be life with no objective.

More disorienting to me are those who are hostile to those who believe the way they don't believe. Why get so upset?

Because of our different balances of subjectivity and objectivity, we live in different worlds. Don't sweat it, it will not make sense!

Unless, of course, you envisioned the balance of subjectivity and objectivity as a three dimensional scale with multi-colored blocks falling onto the scale like tetras pieces, stacking up, creating a four-dimensional aspect of balance (height, width, length and weight), therefore two balanced people may not have the same elements of balance...not the same subjectives or objectives...

If you saw that, then we do live in the same reality, so you should get angry at me for not believing as you do. It's so self-evident to you, it should also be to me, after all.

Though, I must admit, I am bending more towards subjectivity. I think the Truth is so heavy that we can afford more subjectives than many of us allow ourselves. Maybe.

Or maybe my red is your brown and we'll just never know.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Already September

As salaam alaikum,

I can't believe it's already September. I'm almost a quarter way through my intern year, and I feel like I haven't learned nearly enough yet, though I know I've learned a ton. When you're a family medicine resident, and you're switching modalities and age ranges with each rotation, it's hard to feel you have a handle on anything. I'm doing surgery now, and I'm pediatrics next. Then obstetrics. Then I'm back to our inpatient medicine, after a three month hiatus.

And then in my clinic, I see so few patients, that each patient is still teaching me something new. With a kiddo with a head full of tinea, what's the best treatment? What do I do for the woman with the threatened miscarriage? A man with acute on chronic knee injury for whom I cannot assess for ligament tears because of reduced range of motion secondary to swelling? A woman with a systolic blood pressure in the 200s in clinic who has never been treated for hypertension? Where do I begin?

I'm three months in; thankfully, I have nine months to go.

I can't believe it's already September. It's been months and I'm with a man who keeps me honest. More honest than here, more honest than ever. He's the only one who I feel comfortable telling exactly how Muslim I am, and exactly all the ways that I fall short in my own estimation.

And he knows all those ways, intimately.

I can't believe it's already September. It's 85 degrees in Seattle. I had to water my tomato plant at night because it hasn't rained in more than 40 days and if I don't water it, my late-blooming tomatoes will die. I have three of them, green and cute. I'll have to set up a temporary irrigation system those days that I go visit my parents for my first vacation. I imagined myself going somewhere on my own, like maybe California to visit friends, but I'd rather go home before I get homesick. Because at this point, it's been three months since I've seen my parents, and I'm still the same homebody as always.

It's already September and I'm trying to figure out what it all means. The initial frenzy of beginning residency has cooled to a lull and I no longer laugh when someone calls me doctor. I feel more compelled to dream, to dream up a career path for myself and aim for the stars. I feel less harried and my mind is clearer to reflect. To reflect on my friendship with this man and see if I'm at all capable of not being antsy to see where it ends. And not forcing an end.

I feel more settled and now I can make this place a home, while not forgetting where I came from.

It's only already September and I'm going home to my parents and brother and hopefully I'll return to find my road so far makes sense.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Just the Way I Am

As salaam alaikum,

Today was a productive evening like few others that I've had since the start of residency. I cleaned my kitchen, I cleaned my bathroom, I did four loads of laundry. Pretty good for getting off of work at 6pm. My last task was my hair, of course.

Of course! I'd been meaning to do something about it since yesterday night. I henna gloss my hair these days, so I did an abbreviated version of that on Saturday. I usually like to do a twist out or something of the sort after I henna my hair, but I didn't have time. I had a barbecue to go to over the weekend. So I ended up sporting my simple puff, the one I wear high on my head that usually shrinks down to the caliber of my natural curls in the course of several humid days. I run my fingers through my hair in the morning with water, seal it with coconut oil, tie it up high in a headband and I'm on my way.

Everyone at work seems to really like when I wear my hair that way, but I get tired of it. I like to change it up sometimes. I haven't had time to do minitwists, so I'll try, now that it is less humid outside, to do a twist out again, eventually.

For now, at least, I needed to moisturize my hair, braid it up to stretch it out and rectify the puff for another day.

I texted S, asking him what he was up to. When he asked me, I told him about the great cleaning feat of September 2012. He was also doing laundry. Then I told him,

"Finally doing something with my's a good night!"

He was dismayed. "I thought your hair was ok. You make it sound like an emergency."

To which I laughed...and then, it gave me pause.

I do love my hair...but am I being a little bit extra?

He, like everyone else, loves my hair when I wear it in a puff. Everyone loves that more than I do. To me, I feel like I haven't done anything to my hair. I feel like it's the lazy hairstyle.

He, like most men, doesn't know anything about women's hair. He watched Chris Rock's Good Hair and still didn't understand the concept.

"I thought that good hair meant someone who has beautiful hair. You have good hair," he told me as we sat outside of Starbucks this weekend.

I chuckled. "No. I mean, that's what it should mean, but then, who doesn't have good hair? Good hair, to black people, means hair that is as loosely curled as possible and easy to straighten."

I had cousins who thought I had good hair. They just assumed, since I had fairer skin, that I also had straighter hair. "But those traits are independently assorting," I told S.

I'm not one to seek male validation, and when I find myself doing so, I try to avoid it at all costs. But I couldn't help but smile when he called my hair beautiful as it was, matted in the center where my breakage is the worst, dry, tightly curled at the edges, pulled back into a flat puff atop my head.

This is my hair at its worse. And he liked it? No, not just liked it...he thinks it's beautiful?

"You make it sound like an emergency." I laughed, but maybe I did. All I could imagine this afternoon as I glimpsed myself in the mirror were the black women in clinic pulling me aside one day and seeing if I needed help with my hair. I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I wanted to show them how a naturalista does things, and so far, I was not representing well. I was also wasting my week post deep condition. I needed to do a better job keeping my hair moisturized and groomed.

I feel more prepared for my day the days that I get to my hair. This is one of them.

So no, no emergency...and if it weren't for the fact that my hair needed just some moisturizing TLC, maybe I didn't need to do my hair at all. Maybe it wasn't a finally. Maybe my hair would have just been happy with the mist of the morning shower, coconut oil and a gentle pulling back with my headband.

This isn't the first time S has found me beautiful just the way I am in times when I'm living up to my own, personal, rigid standard that no one actually holds me to, that I sooner imagine. This also isn't the first time that S shows me a side to my words that I've never seen before, because no one points it out to me.

Maybe there's still a level where I don't think my hair is fine, just the way it is. Maybe there's still a level where I think I'm not fine, just the way I am.

He doesn't make me realize this, He's giving me the opportunity to check myself.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Illegitimate Daughter

As salaam alaikum,

If any of you couldn't tell, I got some daddy issues with Islam.

Some major daddy issues.

When I came into practice in late 2003 after growing up in an interfaith household, I searched for a way to bring meaning and sense to my world, a world that, in my teenage mind, tended a little too much towards chaos. Without having ever read the entire Qur'an myself or having gotten any religious instruction outside of what my mother taught me, I didn't understand how a just and merciful god could allow such suffering in the world.

Of course, being a teenager and just journeying into the world of abstract thought, I had no idea that this was a major philosophical question that has puzzled people for eons before my time, the answer of which has led many before me on several paths between devotion and atheism.

Of course, my life was good. I was an upper middle class kid from a semi-rural small town who had nearly everything she wanted. It wasn't just given to me, mind you...I afforded college because of merit scholarships, not Daddy's money. And of course, the grace of God, which I was spiritual enough to recognize at the time, but I wanted more. I was plagued by my own emotions, my own angst. If I was suffering so much from things just in my head, I could only imagine what it must be like for people with real suffering...women and girls subject to rape and sexual assault on regular bases, people starving, people without homes. It just caused me to delve deeper into a downward spiral of despair. If God didn't help these people who obviously needed it more than me, why would he ever help me who had the "fake" problem of depression?

So, as I entered college, I searched for more solid standing within Islam, to provide me with a much needed foundation for my spirituality, and to provide me with comfortable answers to my questions about the nature of God. Submission to God was the answer for me, and that would solve the problem of my depression and anxiety.

I was so not expecting to come into an Islam, practiced by Muslims I've encountered here in the United States, that would not always be that comfortable place to seek refuge, to submit to God, to rest my weary spirit from the unforgivable secular world.

I wasn't expecting to find out I was, in fact, an illegitimate daughter of Islam.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I had remained in a state of innocence. I wish Islam had remained for me as simple and organic as my mother taught it. As I delved into Islam in college, I came upon a version of Islam that was at times hostile, inflexible and merciless. It felt very much unlike the way I was raised to believe in God, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful of my Yusus Ali translation of the Qur'an that my mother used to read to us when we were little.

It wasn't the first sticking point, but the most painful sticking point was the fact that my parents' marriage, under most interpretations of Islamic law, is invalid, because my father is not Muslim.

So I am illegitimate.

I mean, for a while, it didn't really matter, because people would see me at MSA meetings and think I was a non-Muslim interloper anyway, because I was black. Never mind that the first major populations of Muslims in this country were black. Never mind that the first president of the MSA at my college years ago was a black woman. How strange to enter a context in your own country where you are made to feel foreign when, as a Muslimah, especially a searching, striving Muslimah, I should have been made to feel welcome.

I'm always an outsider because my name and ethnicity make me a mystery. I always have to explain how I was raised Muslim.

So it hurts to be considered otherwise illegitimate by my coreligionists.

I struggled to find a way in a faith, as I understood it, that would require me to deny my father, or deny his culture, in a certain sense, if the culture considered itself diametrically opposed to Islam. Maybe it was the fact that I was exposed to Muslims on my mother's side that were not so rigid that I did not go down that road that many of those that come into the religion later in life do.

Maybe it was the fact that it was partially the values that my father raised me with that brought me to Islam. So how could I rebuke the man who was responsible for bringing me into the world and partially responsible for my Islam? It made no sense...

I could easily give up on a religion that always considered my parents' union, the union responsible for my life, illegitimate. I was always a bastard, anyway, so why even bother? Why even bother, if God never blessed my parents' union? Why even bother, if I'm completely dispensable in a community of believers, believers, the best of communities of people in this earth, because my ethnicity isn't usual, because my name isn't right? Believers will continue to strive in the way of Allah (swt) and insha'Allah find their reward with Him in paradise without missing the little misfit that either sat, tugging at her sleeves without hijab in the center of the room or sat, tugging at her sleeves with hijab at the corner of the room, spoken to by only a couple of sisters that took pity on her isolation.

I've given up on a few things over time, but alhamdulillah it never leaves me with nothing. When I let go of everything, I'm left with the simple, organic Islam my mother taught me, and Islam that would make sense for an illegitimate daughter like me to practice...illegitimate in the sense that I'm living here in a non-Muslim country, as an ultimate minority, irremediably and unabashedly American, beautifully black and proud, unlikely to fit in a country perceived to be more halal for me because of all the things that I am, unlikely to fit into Random Muslim Community USA because all of the things that I am...

My mother became expert at practicing Islam in almost complete isolation. And while I will not stay so isolated, this is the Islam for me, free of some of the toxic impurities that we have somehow absorbed over time and taken as dogma.

So yes, I grew up in Islam without a Muslim father, without a "father." But I think my fellow Muslims make huge mistakes in this life when they ignore people like me who are several ways "illegitimate." I think if we do this, we're missing the point, we're missing the purpose of life, we're missing out on blessings and we're missing out on forgiveness.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

All I Want for Ramadan

As salaam alaikum,

As I approach my last two nights of the night shift, I find myself getting accustomed to being a day zombie and night warrior. And by night warrior, I mean ambling around the hospital at 2am to answer a page about a patient, wrapping my fleece around me to prevent the shivers as my body tries to convince me to sleep.

Anyway, I'll be glad when nights end. I spend most of my morning sleeping then most of my day lounging around. My seniors suggest that I do nights next year during Ramadan, because that would "be perfect." No, thank you. There are various reasons why Ramadan this year was a little haphazard (or a lot haphazard, heh) compared to years past, part of that is my fault, but night shift disrupts Ramadan for me. It disrupts the spirit of fasting if I'm sleeping part of the day away to work a 12 hour shift at night.

Plus, it's very hard to sleep during the day without taking sleep aids, and if you're fasting, you can't take sleep aids. Having to stop eating by 4:30am also means no caffeine to get you through the rest of your shift when you have to go until 11:00am (that's me on Saturday, iA!).

So no, night shift is not ideal for Ramadan. Next year, iA, I'll do an outpatient month or something. That way, I'll be sure to be able to do my reading that year. Insha'Allah I also plan to check out the mosque in Northgate at some point; looks like Eid is going to be held at a convention center. Having a car makes this easier, but working most days does not help.

Ramadan has been a little bit isolated this year because I don't have my medical school Muslim group weekly iftars or local MSA events to sample, but interestingly, it's been one of my least lonely Ramadans on record. I am super happy about my residency program, I've made family here with my co-residents, I'm learning a lot...I've given up on marriage...

And really, I could not be happier.

Ramadan for me is not only a time of reflection, of prayer, of God-consciousness, of self-control, but it's also always been a miraculous time for me. It's a time when Satan is at bay, when God will answer all of the prayers of those who fast and remember Him...and I take advantage of that every year to pray for myself and my family, about anything that's going on in the world, anything pressing.

Because while I believe that God always answers prayers, I felt like Ramadan held greater promise. Ramadan, I was more focused.

So for the last several Ramadans, many of my prayers had to do with marriage, future spouses, etc. Every salat with some istikhara in between. And every year, the same yield. But I was convinced that when the time was actually right, God would provide. I always am, always will be. Unless it is not God's desire for me to marry, which is also a possibility.

But if Ramadan is a time when all of your prayers are answered, why is this one never answered? Was I doing things incorrectly? Did I wait too long to make up my missed days from menstruation?

The fact of the matter is...Ramadan is still a special time for me, a time when God's grace feels ever nearer. But it's just like every other day of the year when prayers are not answered in a way that is apparent to you or in a time that is what you desire. Every other prayer I've prayed to God has been answered in a self-evident way. When I prayed about marriage, all I got was an empty feeling in return.

So I gave up. I prayed about it in the beginning of Ramadan, but I lost heart. I lost heart and I lost resolve. And maybe it's okay. Ramadan isn't like my personal Christmas and God is not Santa Claus. Ramadan is greater and God is Greater and why I couldn't get married is just something I'll never understand.

So I didn't want anything in particular this Ramadan, but the preservation of the blessings I've already been given. Health, vitality, that of my family and friends, safety...the ability to carry out my duties as a new physician, the intellect necessary to improve as time goes on...

And I pray for a better Ramadan next year, one that is more replete with God-consciousness and in that, blessings for myself and my loved ones. One that is more pure, not as disjoint and interrupted as this one has been. I should give myself somewhat of a break, because I changed cities and am working for the first time, but on the other hand, it's so disjoint because of deliberate choices that I've made...

All I want for Ramadan is for God to have mercy on me as I stumble forward in life, being less the woman I had the potential to be, being less the believer that I can be, making mistakes...getting lost. Being my worse enemy. Realizing my personal failure.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day in the Life of a Family Medicine Intern

As salaam alaikum,

It's been a while! Between being behind on my Qur'an reading this Ramadan and rotating through inpatient medicine, that supposedly gives me four days off, but two of those days are, like, 7pm-7pm days off (cheating!), I haven't had time to just sit down and chit-chat.

That, and this whole living one day at a time thing has led me to make some interesting life decisions that I have to process in a less public forum. It happens from time to time! I will be back, insha'Allah.

But alhamdulillah, I'm blessed to be in a wonderful residency program that suits all of my needs surrounded by loving co-residents and super supportive faculty, indeed, everything I need. I do miss home from time to time, especially after spending one month there before moving out west, but I recognize that I'm realizing part of my purpose of life by being here.

A while back, I asked if anyone had any questions about me that I don't address here, and the only question that came from that query (I'm still open to any!) was for me to describe a day in the life of an intern. I told that person, who posted anonymously (so I'm not sure who you are...hopefully you're still reading!) that I would wait until I was in the thick of my inpatient rotation and get back to you. So here I am, in the thick of my inpatient rotation, getting back to you.

You asked for a day in the life. I'll give you a day. I'm about to start night shift for six days...that should be really interesting, as well. For the sake of HIPPA, I'm not detailing anything about my patients. This is a public blog and I think the reason that I don't really post about the hospital is because HIPPA is sticky business. I'm also not going to give any hospital identifiers, etc. But it's fairly representative of my day, anyway, hehe.

So, I was on call last Sunday. Call isn't properly call any more. Back when I was a medical student, call meant overnight call, 24 hours. As an intern, you would come in at 12pm on one day and leave 12pm the next. This was awesome as compared to the days of 30-hour call that most of my attendings were trained in. As a medical student at the general hospital, our call was 10am to 12pm, because we had to be present for teaching. Sometimes we'd be in the hospital from 7am to 5pm, though, because of required classes.

So, last Sunday, I did weekend day call, from 6:30am to 8pm. Not bad at all. Even better than my Sub-I, where weekend call was 6:30am and you admitted patients until 8pm, so you could very well leave at 11pm or however long it took you to finish working up your patient.

But I don't mind the 6:30am to 8pm call on the weekends because this inpatient service is Q3, meaning you're doing long day call every three days. All other systems I worked in, you were Q4. There's something intrinsically more painful about working long shifts every three days instead of four.

To top it off, this is Ramadan, so most of the day, my few morning calories (I'm usually only able to eat fruit and drink milk in the about stomach shrinkage) are gone before noon and I run on pure adrenaline in the evening. Alhamdulillah, I've been able to be a good intern the while fasting. It's been a good month.

So, last Sunday, I was on day call. I got in at 6:30am in time for group sign-out. Different from during the week, all of the patients are signed out to the interns and the seniors together. The seniors are the second and third years (oddly...I went to a medical school where second years were juniors). Sign out means you take the entire list with the important information about the patients and the night senior tells you what happened over night after giving a little one-liner about the patient to orient everyone. As the weekend intern on call, you pay attention to all of the patient's information, even though in the morning you're only rounding on 1/3 or 1/4 of the patients. The work is split between you, the night intern from the night before who is staying on to help with work rounds, the weekend rounder, who is a senior who stays through rounds and sometimes the day senior, who splits his or her time between the medicine service and the obstetrics service.

As the day call intern, you could round on anywhere between four and eight patients in the morning. Mercifully, our service hasn't capped, so weekend rounding usually means four or five patients.

After sign out, I peel off and work on progress notes for the morning. As a rule, anyone admitted the day before prior to midnight needs a progress note. Any other patients need a short addendum to their H&P or a small, separate note updated the plan. I tee up my notes, looking at notes left by specialists or attendings the day before and updating the plan accordingly. I also look at overnight events, vitals, new labs (sometimes not in yet, because they're drawn at 7am), and update the plan for patients.

That usually takes me 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many patients I'm carrying and their complexity. My inpatient service has an open ICU, meaning we admit patients to the ICU and we follow them as they go to the step-down unit and back on the floor and everything in-between. It makes for great quality of care, but takes away the stress of having a dedicated ICU rotation as a family physician who doesn't plan on being a hospitalist.

After getting the notes together, I go and round on my patients. It's nice, because our electronic medical records include not only notes, but vitals and medication administration records, so unlike medical school, rounding doesn't mean looking at the EMR, finding the gray chart for any paper progress notes and nursing notes left, finding the green chart for the vitals and the slender blue charts for medications. I have no idea how I rounded on so many patients in that system while writing paper progress notes! Going to a program with a great EMR is great to improve efficiency.

So when I round on patients, I go in and see them, and that's it. It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to see four to six patients in the morning, usually because 1-2 of my patients do not speak English or have big families present (or both). Since we have patients who speak Asian languages, I do use an interpreter, and those visits usually take twice as long, also because not all of the specialists bother to use an interpreter (d'oh!) so sometimes I have to clean-up misunderstandings. When I see the patients, I ask them how things are going, update them on the plan for the day and for the coming days, ask if they have any questions, and then conduct a focused exam. Our program has a low intern cap (only 8!), and ICU patients count as two. Our service caps at 24. I trained at places where the list capped in the 30s, but they also had four interns on service and not just three. Since we have sub-interns usually, they help us carry part of the list.

After I see the patients, I update the note with my exam, any alterations in the plan based on my discussion with the patient, refresh any new labs and studies, and then print them out in preparation for work rounds. Work rounds are table rounds. Attendings come to our workroom and we go around the table, presenting our patients in five minutes or less.  For me, this is different from what I was used to in medical school, because usually for new patients, you gave the more full, seven minute H&P that was complete with HPI, PMH, etc. The most I give these days is an abbreviated HPI, relevant past medical history, pertinent positives in exam and then spend most of my time on my assessment and plan. One of the hospitals I did rotations in during third year had special rounds for the new patients. All old patients were presented in brief SOAP format.

So work rounds, almost all patients, even new ones, are presented in SOAP format. That's because, unlike my old system, we staff patients as they are admitted to the on-call physician. In the other system back in medical school, patients were staffed by the floor attending in the morning, thus requiring a fuller H&P.

Anyway. I'm still not past morning rounds, and I feel like I've written a lot! I'll keep going...

During rounds, the attendings may teach a few pearls or teach some topics, depending on how many patients they are carrying. We usually round with three or four attendings who represent the clinics where our patients are coming from. We round with the hospitalist for any ICU or step-down unit patients. We update our plans according to discussions during rounds and then make sure our notes are in and signed before around noon. At noon, we do teaching.

I work in a community hospital, but I come from a place where there was noon conference every day. In exchange for that type of system, my program has weekly teaching every Tuesday afternoon. When on inpatient, you only make that teaching once a month. As an intern, you're only required to make teaching 50% of the time. Topics repeat, so you're not left out, necessarily.

So, the Sunday on call started like any other weekend day on call. During the week, your senior also rounds on your patients (but doesn't write a note) and you meet before work rounds and go over the plan, but on the weekend, it's up to you.

After that, the night intern from the previous night gets to go home after his or her 7pm-11am shift, the weekend rounder also goes home, and all that is left is you and the day senior, who is also covering obstetrics, to cover the list, which may have anywhere from 14-24 patients, and take care of any admissions.

So that Sunday, two patients were being transferred from a neighboring hospital's emergency department and were to be admitted to our service. They came at the same time, unfortunately, and hit the floor at the same time. My senior, who can also help with admissions, asked if I would like to do both admissions or split them. Being the self-sufficient girly that I am, I said no, I'll do both admissions. That's my job as an intern, I feel. The seniors in my program provide a lot of support for interns for discharge paperwork. Though discharge summaries are the job of the intern, sometimes your seniors will help you, because they are due within 24 hours of discharge for patients discharging to home and upon discharge for patients discharging to facilities, and sometimes, your plate is too full as an intern to make those deadlines. On the weekends, seniors will sometimes do some of the admissions. I trained in systems where that was always, always the job of the intern, even if you get slammed. You peak in on the patient, you "skeletonize" orders, you see your sickest patients first and work backwards, H&P be damned!

I still feel the urge to operate like that, but this program splits the work and we'll even call in backup. I actually like this, because it improves patient safety.

Anyway, I was admitting my first patient, who required an interpreter. That patient was on the floor for almost an hour with skeletonized orders before the interpreter showed up. While I was in with the patient, I got a page that the second patient was on the floor and needed orders. That was fine, I figured. I'd be done with this patient soon enough.

Then, in the middle of my admission, I get a page that a patient that I'm cross-covering for wants to leave AMA, against medical advice, and to come talk to them. I had a patient leave AMA earlier, frustratingly, only to return a few hours later to the emergency department. But I was in the middle of the admission of this patient. I would respond to that page within the next five minutes, but I wanted to tie things up. Next thing I know, I hear a violence code called over the loudspeakers and get a second page that the violence code was called on my cross-cover patient, and I needed to be there, now!

I explain the situation to the interpreter, tell her I'll be back in 10-15 minutes, and run to the step-down unit where security guards are already surrounding the area. By the time I get there, the patient is still in bed but belligerent. I talk them down and convince them to stay. Somewhere in there, I page my senior's personal pager through my phone and he comes running in. I stay for about 15 or 20 minutes more to ensure that the situation deescalates before I return to admitting my patient with the interpreter. Because of the interruption, though, I'm now behind admitting the second patient, and my senior skeletonizes orders for her and looks in on her. Within the hour, I admit both patients and work on their H&P's. My senior in the meantime is getting slammed in obstetrics and I have my wish, to be on my own admitting patients.

I staff both patients by about 6pm, meaning I give an over-the-phone H&P to the admitting attendings, who make any updates to my assessment and plan. I tidy up the rest of the note and update our sign-out, which is a word document that lets the night team know what is left to be done for patients and any cross-cover issues to know about (like the cross-cover patient with the tendency towards violence and leaving AMA).

Time flies when you're super busy, and before we know it, it's time to sign out patients. The senior lets me do sign out for my own patients and then they usually sign out the rest. In the mornings on weekdays, the night intern signs out to the day intern who follows the patient, and the night senior signs out to the day seniors and signs out obstetrics to the maternal-child health resident. And then I tidy up anything undone and I'm kicked out by 8pm so I don't violate duty hours.

This past week, the week that began with that Sunday, I worked for 83 hours. The cap is 80. I technically do not violate duty hours because I have to work less than 80 hours on average for the entire rotation. This is the only week I'll violate hours. On nights, you work 12 hour shifts and you only do six nights in a row, so I'll probably work 76 hours that week (including the one night where I stay on until 11am). I've fasted Ramadan while working nights's just odd, because you only eat during a small portion of the night. You realize just how short the night is in the summer when you do that. that is a standard day in the life of a family medicine intern on service. It was a pretty tranquil day with just two admissions. My co-intern got slammed on Friday with, like, four admissions between noon and six. I just did call on Saturday and admitted no one, but discharged a bunch of patients. Diuresing the list, if you will. The days vary, but that's good, or else you'd be constantly tired...

I just slept for about 10 hours last night, from 9:30pm to 8am, waking for salat and suhoor. I need to also nap during the day prior to my shift, insha'Allah, although, unlike the rest of the rotation, I'll be able to drink caffeine to keep me awake!

Anyway, I'm here, still in bed, lounging around before I go into the hospital at 7:30pm to begin my night.

Let me know if anyone has any other questions for me! This was a long post, sorry, but I haven't written something not a discharge summary in a while!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Almost Perfect

As salaam alaikum,

When I started practicing Islam, I was a perfectionist. There is nothing in Islam that would discourage this. I came to this faith as a nominal Muslim teenager who knew a few rituals, salat and a few heavily-accented (as in English accent) Arabic utterances, not nearly enough to convince anyone I was Muslim. So I played major catchup.

But I digress. I came into practice of this faith because I believed that it was the straight way (and I still do), and I wanted to follow that way. This was the way for me to be almost perfect, almost completely perfect as God commands us by avoiding the major sins and seeking daily (five time daily and once annually, through Ramadan) forgiveness for all of my faults. My sins would be as good as erased every Ramadan, and anyway, they'd be tiny ones because, having been shown the straight way, how could I err?

Wouldn't I be a disbeliever upon erring?

I came into the practice of this religion without properly knowing that the straight way is not singular or self-evident in terms of steps one should take to achieve that almost perfection I aspired to.

I keep making mistakes. Sometimes I make them multiple times. I tried so hard for almost perfect but I never was.

So where does this leave me? If I decide to no longer try being almost perfect, then where does that leave me?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ramadan and Returns

As salaam alaikum,

First of all, to all my readers and the Muslim blogosphere in general, I want to wish everyone Ramadan Mubarak! This is the first day of fasting in earnest for me, thanks to traveling (awesome camping trip with my co-residents) and one of the many pleasures of being a fertile woman, alhamdulillah. Heh, we'll leave it at that. It's kind of off-setting to begin Ramadan four days in, but insha'Allah this shall be a much needed month of spiritual revival.

Insha'Allah. Because I certainly need it!

And also, inna lillahi wa inna ilayi raji'un...

My uncle's wife, my aunt, died sometime last night after battling metastatic cervical cancer. She has a teenage boy and two young sons. My uncle and one of my aunts were there by her side. I will be praying for her and her family this Ramadan, insha'Allah. It's been a long and hard journey for the family, and this is the beginning of a new one.

Anyway, off to a doctor's appointment! My first appointment as a physician, heh.

One day, I'll stop laughing after every time I say I'm a doctor. One day...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Muslim Community vs. Muslim Isolation

As salaam alaikum,

As Ramadan approaches (it's essentially right on top of us, hehe), I usually like to get all reflective, center myself, mentally prepare myself for a month of prayer, devotion, repentance and mercy.

Insha'Allah, the month will still be those things for me, but I may not quite find the center before the beginning of my fasting. This year has been emotionally and spiritually tumultuous, in the best possible sense of the word. There have been ups and downs, goods and's been a pretty awesome year, in the range from positive to negative senses of the word. In one year, I've graduated from medical school, moved across the country, bought my first car...

...and may have given up on marriage.

Like, really, in the way that you give up and you don't think wistfully back and you don't shed a tear.

I haven't given up on marriage entirely, no. I'm not going to turn away what God provides me, if he so wills. But...

...I just recognized how much undue stress and worry came from me trying to find a suitable match in a niche market. It really was depressing and ate away at my self-esteem. I was looking in a very specific pool, which is so small, it's not even a pool at all.

No one can say there's a pool of practicing Muslim men who actually have good character (i.e. are not racist, sexist or misogynist, for starters, then the requisite positives), who are ambitious, either professionals or students, speak at least one language that I can also speak, and who would consider a black woman as a wife.

Of the ones who are not married, I can't say that any exist. I've never met one.

So I'm convinced that they don't exist. So what am I waiting for? Nothing. So I've stopped holding my breath, truthfully.

And aaaaaahhhh what a relief it is!

Because, look at how damaging that list is. One of the things that stressed me out the most is sweating about whether I would be acceptable to such a man. When there's a specific type of man that you're looking for in your niche market, that a few may exist isn't the problem...the problem is if they'll be attracted to you.

It's such a damaging way to view potential relationships. It led me to settling for a whole lot of other, whether I was attracted to the man.

And it set me up for a constant feeling of inferiority, because as I saw friends marry very compatible, God-fearing men, the only conclusion that I could come to was that it was me who was not enough.

Thus my chronic, though waxing and waning low self-esteem.

It's all but the grace of God, we all know, but we can't help but feeling that we actually are at the mercy of human beings. Though my eventually marriage is really contingent on God's plan for me, and if He brings someone compatible and suitable into my life...we can't really feel God as much as we'd like to, so I really feel like I'm at the mercy of human beings.

And I realized that the decision I'm making, year after year, as my reproductive organs age, was really about Muslim community vs. Muslim isolation. It's one branch of that decision, anyway. I've searched and faltered in my search for a compatible community, just as I've searched and faltered (and faltered some more!) in my search for a compatible Muslim partner. More times than not, I'm completely isolated as a Muslimah when it comes to community.

And in terms of my marriage prospects, I face two options of Muslim isolation. I either don't marry at all, or I don't marry Muslim.

As a woman dealing with my niche market, not an eligible and compatible Muslim bachelor in sight, I have consciously made the decision, over time, that I will sooner live a life alone with no partner than to end up with a non-Muslim partner. So, with no community and no partner, I am a Muslim in isolation.

Even if I were to choose to marry a non-Muslim, I am still a Muslim in isolation.

Neither is what God meant for me, meant for us.

And I feel like it's because a lot of us (myself not excluded) are living in ways that God didn't mean for us...

...making it hard for me to find a community and for a community to find me.

Making it hard for me to find a partner, and a partner to find me.

I can't fit into my local Muslim community, unless I were no longer myself. And I can't be but myself.

I can't marry into my niche Muslim market, unless I were no longer myself. And I've tried, several times, but I can't but be myself.

But it's true. Life for me is much less stressful and I can focus on important things once I'm no longer trying to make myself fit into my Muslim niche market, hoping for a Muslim man who will put up with the fact that I can't speak Arabic, I have kinky hair, I am black, I don't wear hijab right now but don't exclude it in the future...and everything else that I am that no Muslim man has ventured to know more about because I guess talking more to me would be haram.

Or he's already married.

No more worrying if I'm enough. Time for me to be enough for myself.

Because I guess we are born alone and die alone...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why buy the cow?

As salaam alaikum,

Before I begin, to Anonymous, I read your question for me, and I will answer soon as I've had some experience on an inpatient rotation! I'm on a pretty light outpatient rotation now, and it wouldn't be a fair representation of the thick of residency. So, stay tuned in August, insha'Allah, for the answer.

And if anyone else has questions for me, as I indicated in my last entry, I'm happy to answer them!

For various reasons, I'm in the process of contemplating my own virginity and abstinence prior to marriage (I don't like the construct of virginity...makes me vomit a little bit in my mouth, but it was the more succinct way to express that sentiment), I thought about something my mother used to often say.
"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

She only told me to wait until marriage once, I believe. When I was 10 years old in her make-up sex ed session after she chickened out of telling me about intercourse when I was 9 (though I already knew about it). But that sentiment permeated through everything else she said. From her decrying cohabitation to expressing frustration at women who were not "virgins" wearing white wedding dresses, to that phrase. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

And as a young girl who tried to listen to her elders, the saying made sense to me. If I had sex with a man, why would he want to marry me later? He can get what he would get from me through marriage by just being with me with relatively low commitment.

It made sense, and I embodied it and didn't much think about it...until, like, last week. Seriously.

I thought about it and then I was like, how effing offensive is that! I am not a cow!

I am not a cow!

And is that just my use? Milk? Sex? Is that all you're getting when you choose to spend the rest of your life with me? Sex?


And yet, she recited this like gospel before her young daughter, whose sense of self and ideas about relating to men were very much formed by these notions.

Parents never mean ill to their children. They're doing their best. So I don't fault my mother for this.

But what a horrible, misogynistic saying that encourages lack of commitment and foolishness! I'm not sure any part of it is good, even the intent and sentiment behind it.

Based on people that I know, that a man won't want you if your sex is "free" is not true. I know tons of people who started out with sexual relationships and are now married and thriving, and the man did not become disinterested in the woman because she was sexually available before marriage. And I know people who waited until they got married because both the husband and the wife believed in it, and none of them got married just to have sex, though, haha, admittedly, that was a major determinant.

Marriage is not to buying a cow. Maybe back in the day when marriage was a financial transaction, and you were bought in exchange for sometimes cattle as dowry. Because let's be real. Marriage wasn't always about a spiritual partnership under God as we apologists now paint it.

I'm not sure how many men know of the phrase, but I'm at least one woman who has taken it and embodied it.

I, for one, am letting that go...letting it flow away, out of my mind and out of my body, far far away. I am not a cow, and the man who marries me will not be making that decision simply based on my sex, its quality or its availability. And if I am to encounter such a man, Lord, protect me. But such thinking is what leads many of us as young girls to think that it is our sexual availability, before or within marriage, that is capable of keeping a man, which not only is false, but it's an unfortunate reduction of what either of us, male or female, have to offer to a partner as an entire human being.

So I'm releasing that...goodbye, cow.

I'd rather be a cow in the fat sense than a cow in the sexual sense.

Friday, July 6, 2012


As salaam alaikum, brothers and sisters,

Though, it seems from my commenters, my pink site only attracts sisters...oh well. I tried to be more equitable, haha. Maybe the length of my entries in the culprit...?

Anyway, I post about everything that comes to my mind these days, but either in this journal or my last journal, I had a day when I asked if anyone had questions for me. I feel like I talk about everything and I've probably talked about everything anyone could want to know at some point here, but just in case you have a burning question about me that I don't touch upon or want to see me write about something...I'm game!

While I still have this time prior to my inpatient rotation in a few short weeks aaaaahhhh! Viva Family Medicine!

So, any questions?

(If not, I do have some backed-up entries that I will get to writing iA this weekend).

For now, it's sleepy time. I have my first clinic patients tomorrow...insha'Allah they show up. Lord have mercy on them, though...they get one of the newest doctors around...

Monday, June 25, 2012

[uncensored]: Why am I Still Single?

As salaam alaikum,

Yesterday, as I was walking with my co-residents to Pride with my rainbow-colored scarf that I never wore as a khimar at the time it was gifted to me around my neck, texting a man who is interested in me, my angle twisted on a piece of uneven pavement, and I felt myself fall to the ground.

I landed on my hands.

When you fall, people are embarrassed for you. That makes the fall more embarrassing than it otherwise would be.

But I played not embarrassed. "I'm kind of clumsy, so I'm not surprised this happened," I shrugged off. And I shut off embarrassment as much as I can, and I deny the pain of the open sore on my hand and the my ankle, which I later discover is bleeding. I'm fine, I say. I have this odd experience where I feel pain at first, then I feel numbness, then the pain is gone, I tell one of the resident's boyfriends. Maybe it's the acupuncture, I say to myself. Don't want to sound crazy in front of this new group of people. I'll wait a while longer for my eccentricity to come out, though I did allow myself to show them some samba.

I'm not sure this group can handle all that I am...nor should they. They are my colleagues, my professional colleagues. I'll save all that I am for other venues.

But I did think about why I fell. Was this a sign? Was it a sign that I'm going in the wrong direction? I don't drink alcohol, but am I around alcohol too much? I still pray, but do I not pray enough? I don't have sex, but am I flirting with the possibility too much?

Am I too much of earth, and not enough for God?

I'm so inspired this morning with all of these questions and all of these thoughts because I just watched a TED talk this morning that was assigned to us prior to the session we are to have during this block of our residency. It felt very touchy-feely at the time, but it was informative and I think important for me to reflect on.

Dr. Brene Brown discusses "The Power of Vulnerability." In brief, she talks about how those people who led the happiest lives were able to love wholeheartedly, and a big part of that was accepting and embracing vulnerability...the vulnerability of life and loving. They were also able to embrace their worthiness. They were worthy of loving, worthy of feeling connection, connection that defines us all so much.

But listen to the talk. Really. I'm not a self-help buff by any means, but it's 20 minutes, and it will help put what's coming next into context.

So I listened to this, and I was struck! That's me! Talk about strumming my pain with her fingers, singing my life with her words. This is me in a nutshell.

Necessarily, many of us who go into medicine are perfectionists. I am a diehard. To say I studied hard is an understatement. I strove to get all As at all times, and when I didn't, I beat myself up about it. I'm not that smart, because I got a 3.908 in college, and my science GPA was even lower. I knew people who got higher. I'm not that smart, because I got an 85% A in my organic chemistry class. It was on a curve, so it wasn't a real A.

I'm not that smart, because I'm not perfect, in other words. You always strive for that perfection as a perfectionist. Even if one's imperfection is good enough.

Worthiness is something I struggle with in all domains. I don't know if it's more often than not but too often, I don't feel worthy, or I at least question my worthiness. Was I worthy of being called a good medical student? Am I worthy of any type of praise? Was I worthy enough to attend Harvard, really? Am I worthy of being called a Muslim? Am I worthy before God? Am I worthy of being loved?

Because I'm not there...I'm not there.

Let's break down one of these for now. Am I worthy of being loved? I don't know. Sometimes, I feel like, absolutely. But most of the time, I feel like, the proof is in the pudding. And then I remind myself that I am loved, by family and friends...but that's not what I mean.

And all of us who wonder this know that's not what we mean. We want a partner! We want romantic love, carnal love, whatever you want to call it and whatever you want to deny. So I ask, am I worthy of being loved by a man who will marry me or am I not?

If I am worthy, then why am I still single?

Why am I still single?

"Because the right one hasn't come along yet," they all say. This satisfies me for, like, five seconds.

But what if he never comes?" I sometimes say aloud, sometimes keep to myself. But for real, though. What if he never comes? What if he doesn't exist? What if God wants me to be single for the rest of my life because that is my portion?

"God doesn't want that for us," some would say, my father, for example.

Well then, why am I suffering so much from being single? This must be a trial, and so far, I'm failing.

Failing. Failing.

There's that word that I've used so much for someone who has actually never failed. Alhamdulillah, I've never failed to fast Ramadan. Alhamdulillah, I've never failed a class or a test or anything academic like that. Alhamdulillah, I've never failed my family, let them down...

But I use that word, fail, a lot to describe myself. Failure at life. Meaning failure at love.

Am I a failure at love?

"No, you just haven't found the one yet."

The one. I don't want to believe in that shit.

It just seems like an invitation to let down, disappointment, disillusionment. It's something you can only know in retrospect.

And that still doesn't answer the question...what if I'm not going to find the one, the right, the whatever? What if no man ever wants to marry me like no man has ever (legitimately) wanted to marry me?

Online proposals from random international Muslims aside.

Dr. Brown said that we numb vulnerability, some of us with addictions to substances, food and drug. I did the food thing a little bit, but I think numbing several emotions led me, leads me, to cycle into depression at different points in my life.

I numb attraction. Before I was practicing fully, I numbed it because it was inconvenient and risky. Why allow myself to be attracted to someone if they don't like me back? Yet, it inevitably happened, but I fought it so hard.

I fight so hard.

I liked when I became more practicing an such attraction was haram, anyway. Then, I was justified in numbing, denying, and I felt like it was an act of worship on top of it to obfuscate so thoroughly. And anything else was sin. This is how God intended us to be. Fight the base way we were created in order to attain the spiritual heights to transcend this earthly world in anticipation of Heaven.

But there is no easy way to follow God.

There is no easy way because we can deny so hard in places where we deem love and attraction to be inappropriate that we don't love in the right places when it is appropriate.

Perfectionists are among us all throughout life and over time, many of them have had loud voices and have led many of us down the road to masochism, using God's name in vain.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, must have been a perfectionist as well. I'm thinking of the Hadith that I love but that bites me hard at the same time. That religion should be very easy, but all we have to do is try to be as perfect as we can.

Ummmm...that is not easy. That second part. Not even very easy. Lord have mercy on me, but it's not.

Dr. Brown talks about practicing vulnerability. As my mother would say, if these people would just read the Qur'an and find Islam. It's very hard to find Islam. This world is too polluted right now by Muslims and non-Muslims corrupting Islam and obscuring the beautiful path. I pray that I'm not one of them. I'm fine with not everyone being Muslim because becoming Muslim in this country often inspires people to leave or lose sight of those principles that led them to submit to God in the first place in favor of bullshit...

But I digress.

I say all of this because practicing vulnerability is practicing Islam. Submitting to God is allowing yourself to be vulnerable to a Being that you cannot touch, who is perceivable through His creation only, who we have no proper pronouns for in our languages that are not limited by gender, who we can't help but anthropomorphize in our minds (yes, everyone, even Muslims). Submitting to a Being that we cannot sense with our five senses directly.

Trusting Him when there's no evidence (and no promise!) that you'll get what you want. Trusting that what He wants is best, even if you don't get what you want. Trusting Him that he's guiding you, although you feel like you don't know where you're going.

You know what you're supposed to do, but you don't know how to do it. This can lead you astray.

Astray. That's almost a curse word for me.

Practicing vulnerability, for me, begins spiritually, so begins with my relationship with God. Worthiness, I should seek first with God.

Because human beings, we're all guilty of this, but we'll seek these things in arms, physical arms, first. In significant others in particular sometimes...

But is my harkening so much toward God above the carnal, which calls me deeply, as is my nature, as I was created by my Creator, my attempt at perfection that cannot be achieved, due to my nature? And should I seek something unattainable? Or should I embrace my imperfections, in the name of God, and move forward?

So, why am I still single? I could say a lot of things. Part of me wants to fault myself. I'm too intense, I talk too much, I'm too ambitious, I'm too picky, I'm too...fat. Another part of me wants to fault men. They don't know a good thing when they see it, they don't value virtue (or at least its attempts), they don't value an intelligent woman, they don't value my beauty, they're emotionally lazy, they want sex and no commitment. I could do a life retrospective, and it all started when I embraced, as a practicing Muslimah, my fear of vulnerability by seeking a form of religion in which there was a straight way in life in which all good things were guaranteed, a straight way and a right way to do things so I wouldn't get hurt by a man who just desires my sex and then leaves me when/if he gets what he wants... So I didn't date, because it was haram, and so I remained single. God intends marriage to protect us from the pains of premarital intimacy with people who are not married to us under God. Just to find out that there are no guarantees, not even in marriage (and sometimes especially not in marriage), and so one of the major reasons I became more practicing is now moot, but I always have been and always will be Muslim. And a Muslimah who practices Islam who is not super conservative is hard to find a match for, when the Muslim men like her are not seeking Muslim women.

But the answer is, I don't know.

I don't know, and I'm just going to live with it.

It's time for me to get ready for work (haha, sounds funny), but this reflection is obviously not over, just as insha'Allah life isn't over. I've avoided making mistakes and I've tried to be as perfect as possible. And when I make a mistake, I don't feel comfortable pronouncing the name of God over it. But maybe herein lies the problem. Maybe I don't pronounce the name of God enough, figuratively speaking. Maybe I fear bringing God into areas of my life where I know I'm traveling a raw path. Maybe I need to come to God more often and be more frank about my vulnerabilities and when I fall into error, in the middle of it happening, instead of shutting Him out for shame that it's happening. I'm not saying sin in the name of God, but...that I need to at least hold fast to God consciousness in everything, everything, everything that I do, and not take breaks...

I don't know why I'm still single when I really don't want to be. I'm not alone. God knows, I do not. God knows why we're on this earth, and I do not. I'm going to embrace that and go about my way.

I just don't know what that all means yet.

EDIT: Hahaha, just noticed that I misspelled uncensored. This is what comes of Firefox not spell-checking my titles. That was not intentional!