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.