Archive | September, 2009

Last exam.

29 Sep

Had my last exam today. Phew. I feel so much better. I have two days to get everything stah-raight before I leave. So, let’s begin:

  • Get head start on coursework
  • Print out itinerary/maps/program/metro schedules/etc
  • Fit three days worth of clothing into one carry-on
  • Find a (complete) deck of playing cards

Piece of cake.

Today, I witnessed a student playing Farmville on Facebook in the Engineering building. Old MacDonald must be turning over in his grave.

I wore my FOB shirt to school today and everyone was looking at me weird. Maybe I’m just being paranoid. That happens sometimes. Especially when my eyebrows are a mess. I get paranoid and self-conscious. Say what you want about eyebrow threading being halaal or haraam, but feeling like Groucho Marx ain’t good for no woman’s soul. In my entire life I’ve had exactly two girls tell me eyebrow threading is haraam, and they both had perfect natural brows that defied the laws of nature.

I WILL start working out again, insha Allah. Just need to get back into that groove. Tomorrow, I am going to put on my sneakers, hit the pavement before I can think of another excuse, and that’ll be it, hooked. Line and sinker.

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Rabbit-Hearted Girl

28 Sep

Well, I’ve been avoiding writing an entry for a few days, but judging by how many emo updates I keep making on Facebook it seems I’m itching for a good soul-spill.

I feel…completely gripped by inertia. Everyday is just the same exact routine. I don’t feel any motivation to take the extra step outside of school, work, coming home, and dragging myself out of bed the next day to do it all over again. I really disappointed myself this Ramadan and I feel like I’m almost trying to punish myself for it.

Insha Allah I hope this trip to Baltimore for IlmFest gives me that change in routine I need. I am leaving my laptop here. This is the main thing for me, I need to get rid of this laptop! I cleaned my room from top to bottom yesterday and was trying to study with my actual, physical, non-radiation-emitting textbook and I couldn’t sit still because I wanted to get back online. It was unsettling to experience the confines of the four walls of my room and suddenly be aware of everything “out there.” With the internet I forget that there’s a world right outside my door. That’s what is so scary, when I get caught up in a funk, I just lose myself online on Facebook or watching re-runs of Supernatural or Grey’s Anatomy or some other stupid show and don’t even think about “going outside” physically. My body decays while my mind is somewhere else and I hate it and I need to do something about it. This laptop gotta go. I can’t start living until it’s gone. I honestly don’t use it for schoolwork, just Facebook and writing these entries. All I need is a USB drive and I’m good to go. I have plenty of access at school and work to computer workstations, all with internet access. I don’t need a laptop at home and I would frankly be much better off.

I was scanning the spines of the books in the living room, hoping something would catch my eye to give me some inspiration to get out of this funk, and a tiny volume caught my eye. Message for the Sick. The title could barely fit on the spine, it’s such a skinny, tiny volume. It’s by Said Nursi.

The first page begins as such:

The Twenty-Fifth Flash

Message for the Sick

[This treatise consists of Twenty-Five Remedies. It was written as a salve, a solace, and a prescription for the sick, and as a visit to the sick and a wish for their speedy recovery.]

Warning and Apology

This immaterial prescription was written with a speed greater than all my other writings, and so too since time could not be found in which to correct and study it, unlike all the others, it was read only once–and that at great speed like it’s composition. That is to say, it has remained in a disordered state like the first draft, I did not consider it necessary to go over carefully the things which had occurred to me in a natural manner, lest they be spoilt by arranging them and paying them undue attention. Readers and especially the sick should not feel upset and offended at any disagreeable expressions or harsh words and phrases; let them rather pray for me.

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Those who say when afflicted by calamity: “To God do we belong and to Him is our return.” (Quran 2:156) Who gives me food and drink, and when I am ill it is He Who cures me. (Quran 26: 79-80)

In this Flash, we describe briefly Twenty-Five Remedies which may offer true consolation and a beneficial cure for the sick and those struck by disaster, who form one tenth of mankind.

First Remedy

Unhappy sick person! Do not be anxious, have patience! Your illness is not a malady for you; it is a sort of cure. For life departs like capital. If it yields no fruits, it is wasted. And if it passes in ease and heedlessness, it passes most swiftly. Illness makes that capital of yours yield huge profits. Moreover, it does not allow your life to pass quickly, it restrains it and lengthens it, so that it will depart after yielding its fruits. An indication that your life is lengthened through illness is the following much repeated proverb: “The times of calamity are long, the times of happiness, most short.”

It’s a beautiful treatise. Said Nursi wrote it in 4 1/2 hours. Four and a half hours. In the same amount of time that I spent on a TV marathon on a Sunday afternoon, less than a century ago this great scholar wrote a beautiful handbook on how to cure sickness, both of the body and the soul. Not only that, he apologizes for its “disordered state” and implores that “readers and especially the sick should not feel upset and offended at any disagreeable expressions or harsh words and phrases; let them rather pray for me.” Let them rather pray for me.

My throat tightened when I read that. It’s truly a beautiful thing, and each of the Twenty-Five remedies are taken from what Islam teaches us about dealing with trial and calamity. I wish I could write each one, but I wrote out the first one, and I think everyone should read it.

I’ve been feeling out of sorts because every time I lay my head down at night I can’t think of one thing that I did today that made a difference, to myself or anyone around me. Each day feels like a carbon copy of the next and the one that came before. I feel trapped in a forward motion that can’t be stopped. I want to throw a monkey wrench into the guts of this…this…this MACHINE my life is and scream and stamp my foot and say WAIT, just WAIT one everloving second. I want to take back the pieces of my life that I gave up. I want to get my priorities straight. I want to be able to look at the calendar and not raise an eyebrow that it’s only a few days until October when the last time I checked, we just started September. I can’t keep track of what MONTH it is anymore and I’m pretty sure we’re approaching the point where we forget what YEAR it is, that’s how insignificant it will be.

I wasted my time today watched re-runs of Supernatural. I tried to watch it when it first premiered a few years back, but the chest-bumping all-American corn-fed heroes laying waste to the monster-of-the-week and getting the damsel-in-distress shtick got tired real fast. Recently they mixed the formula up by introducing this epic storyline involving the apocalyse and an imminent war between demons and angels. The whole concept is blasphemous of course, but I wanted to see how they dealt with the concept of angels and okay, fine, I’ll admit it: Misha Collins is really, really hot. The show mainly feeds into the Judeo-Christian aspect of angels, and the only things similar to the Islamic concept of angels are the broader strokes, like angels are made of light, true form usually cannot be seen by humans, but they can appear in the form of mankind, messengers of God, no free will. (The last bit is somewhat sketchy.) I can see why those are the only similarities, because from a dramatic standpoint the Islamic concept of angels is really, really non-conducive to good TV. We don’t have the concept of the “fallen angel” because it is contradictory to the basic nature of angels. God created the angels to be 100% obedient to Him. Angels cannot disobey God, and thus, cannot “fall from Grace.” The struggles that Castiel–this so-called angel–faces, from the episodes that I’ve seen anyway, show the blatant disregard for this fact of obedience. He talks about “not knowing what is wrong or right anymore” and that he has “doubts,” etc. (Yes, yes, I know, why watch a stupid television show about magic and blasphemous angels to begin with, let’s pretend we had this conversation already.)

In my mind, I’m writing fanfiction, but everything inevitably leads to Dean taking his Shahada and in my mind Castiel morphs into a being more similar in character to Al-Khidr, the Green One. I keep rewriting all the scenes in my mind to make sense Islamically, like when Dean unloads this on Castiel:

Dean: “I thought angels were supposed to be guardians. Fluffy wings, halos… you know, Michael Landon. Not dicks.”
Castiel: “Read the Bible. Angels are warriors of God. I’m a soldier.”
Dean: “Well why didn’t you fight?”
Castiel: “I’m not here to perch on your shoulder. We had larger concerns.”
Dean: “Concerns? There are people gettin’ torn to shreds down here! And by the way, while all this is going on, where the hell is your boss, huh? If there is a God.”
Castiel: “There’s a God.”
Dean: “Well I’m not convinced. ‘Cause if there is a God, what the hell is he waiting for? Genocide? Monsters roaming the Earth? The freakin’ Apocalypse? At what point does he lift a damn finger and help the poor bastards that are stuck down here?”
Castiel: “The Lord works…”
Dean: “If you say ‘in mysterious ways’, so help me I will kick your ass.”

In my mind, Castiel quotes the Quran instead, “Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and the fruits of your toil. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, ‘To God we belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord, and mercy. They are the ones who receive guidance.” (2:155-157)

I keep trying and failing to take something beautiful and perfect and crush it into the confines of this shoddy, man-made hole of an inferior television show because I see a spark of something beautiful there that I recognize. The sad thing, though, is that I think a lot of people are lapping up this new twist in the storyline like a little religion, simply because of that little spark, and it’s all they have. They don’t have the rich tapestry of Islam to fall back on, to recognize the holes and gaps for what they are.

Things I like:

  • Castiel’s hazm. His whole demeanor completely embodies the concept of “If you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little.”
  • Anytime anyone, anywhere, mentions the existence of God.
  • Misha Collin’s amazing bone structure
  • The family dynamic

Things I don’t like:

  • Perving on Misha Collins’ bone structure
  • Angels as fallible beings, angels acting like humans, reducing angels to human terms, etc
  • Any references to humans being “God’s children” or “made in His image”
  • Any reference to Sihr (magic), so basically, everything else about the show
  • “Finding God.” Where did He go to begin with? Where does the one who created the heavens and the earth and everything in between “go?”
  • Castiel getting “cut off from much of heaven’s power”
  • The meandering road that seems to be forming of Castiel as “semi-fallen angel.” Also, Dean, Castiel tells you he wants to sit here quietly and contemplate and you take him to a whorehouse and make him drink beer? WTH? WTH? He just got back from Jerusalem, man. Take him to the masjid or something. Oh wait, I forgot, I don’t write this show, and in the end it’s just a stupid TV show.

Man, I wish I wrote this show.

Exams.

23 Sep

Two down, two to go. Studied for 4 hours straight today, yet on top of having kept up with all the assignments and reading all the chapters my grade was still somewhat mediocre. This is one of those classes, where I gotta bring it Turboforce. Ba-ba-bah. My professor is awesome, but she’s a tough cookie.

Next exam tomorrow at 9 AM. Ugggh. Preceded by 7:30 AM lab. I am such a dum-dum. Who signs up for a 7:30 AM lab? Dum-dums.

I sneezed in the library. Three people spoke. Two said “bless you,” and a third guy said, “Wow, that’s a ferocious one!” Good lord.

I wanted to go to the gym today. I dressed to work out and everything. I thought I would have time after I took my exam but by the time I finished it was 9:30 PM. *le sigh*

Now, must sleep…

eeeek.

22 Sep

I have two exams this week and one next week! Gross!

I have gym buddies! Yay!

I rediscovered how much fun running is when I ran halfway across campus in 10 minutes for a smoothie. At 8 PM. In the dark.

No lunch + 5 hours tutoring + 3 hour class = one very hungry running muslimah!

Also, IlmFest! Just in time to celebrate post-exams! Woohoo. I can finally bust out with my cute fall estuff.

OY…

22 Sep

…just spent the last 2 hours transcribing an interview I conducted with DCF Adoptive Services for a class project. Time to turn in!

Eid and Avocados

20 Sep

Eid Mubarak y’all! I’m back, baby, I’m back!!!!

Today was really, really nice! We went to my uncle’s house for an Eid get together. It was nice to see everyone, I had hardly a chance during Ramadan because we were all so busy.

Today was also my cousin’s birthday, so we had a double celebration. Suh-weet. The cake was rather structural unsound. When we took the cover off it was leaning precariously to one side, and as we began cutting slices it started falling over like a chocolate-y mudslide. We joked that because she’s an engineering major she should have gotten a cake that had a strong foundation. We didn’t have a “zero” candle, but we did have a 2, 1, and 1, so we tried “21 – 1” with a candle as the minus sign (see, Desi family, we can’t help but do math) but then someone had a brilliant idea to use an egg as the zero. My uncle got an egg from the fridge and put it on the cake next to the “2” candle. Broblem solved.

My uncle had some eidi for the kids, which he gave to my grandma for “safeguarding.” I made a scavenger hunt for the kids by hiding clues all over the house and outside on index cards. The first clue was with my uncle, the following clue was on the jet ski outside on the lake, one was in my cousin’s guitar, another on a ceiling fan, one in the freezer, one on the boogie board in the garage, and so on. I tried to make them rhyme somewhat. I wrote things like, “You found the first clue, and in order to win, I’m near water and something you take out for a dizzying spin!” Hee. The kids had fun. It got botched near the end because the last clue ended up at my grandma but she didn’t want to give the kids any of the eidi. 😦 😦 😦 (They got some eventually…)

The tree in my uncle’s neighbor’s house is full of avocados. It leans partly onto their yard as well so we got as many as we could. Most were on the neighbor’s side so I went around and picked a ton from the other side. My uncle said the neighbor doesn’t mind and the guy and his wife don’t eat the avocados anyway. I think I picked about 50 avocados. I brought 7 home with me. Yummm. Dinner for the next week.

I did henna on my aunt, and then some on my sister. I lost my inspiration because suddenly I wasn’t able to do good mehndi on my sister’s hands. It’s like she has some mendhi-inspiration vibe killer.

Vhat else…Ate some good food. Chicken and dahi baray with tomatoes and cucumbers and yogurt. Sinfully chocolate-y chocolate cake. My uncle from Miami brought fresh guava juice, sugar cane juice, water melon juice, and coconut water as well as fresh coconuts. Sooo good. And then of course, CHAI!

I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to come home because I have two quizzes due tonight. And I logged on to read some economics chapters but of course I ended up here.

Insha Allah I will try to get back to updating at least once a day.

This just in…

12 Sep

I almost feel like I willed this into existence. I logged onto MuslimMatters.org thinking, “Man, I wish they’d write about fitness…” Behold! Ramadan Fitness Plan.