Monday, March 30, 2009

Why I'm a Hermit Crab


Eating my yummy spiced beef that I just broiled.

Mr. Boo is asleep.

Tears are dried. Mine...not his.

On the way back home, I just burst out in this sadness. I keep thinking that I'm done being sad over everything, but then I find out that I'm not.

There was this sweet little old lady at the market. I taught two of her grandchildren. I stopped to talk to her. It was Arabic.

ME: Asalamu Alaykom!

HER: Wa alaykom asalam

ME: Enti geddu ma _________ wa _________, na'am?

HER: Na'am. Enti madarissa?

ME: Na'am. Izaek? Wa binteen?

HER: Alhumdulillah.

ME: Binteen helluwa. Ma hejab?

HER: Na'am.

US TOGETHER: Alhumdulillah.

ME: Helluwa. Geddu helluwa.

HER: Zowgek min misr?

ME: AbuBoo min misr.

HER: Zowgee min misr.

ME: Abu ma Boo min misr. Khalas ma anna.

HER: Khalas?! OH! Khalas?! Egyptians are no good!

And she started to talk to the men behind the deli counter. I walked away shaken up a bit. Yes, it hurts to have that conversation. Somehow, the word hasn't reached all over this city that he left me for his ex-wife. I bet that will get easier when she actually lands here with the two kids.

I don't know what I dread more in the future: no longer having a place to live or no longer having this continent to myself.

I began to look around, but was interrupted by one of the men who had overheard the conversation. He wanted to say something to me. He asked how my son was and he called him by name. The man said that he always asks AbuBoo about him.

I stopped lowering my gaze to look him in the face.

"I'm sorry. How do I know you?" I asked.

"There was the time when AbuBoo and his friend went to Egypt. You gave me a ride."

Well, you know those dams in Fargo? The same thing happened to my cebreal cortex. It was flooded in a sudden deluge of frozen memories now melted and rushing through my mind. Damn is right. Damn. Damn. Damn.

I didn't want to remember that. Not now. Not today. Not ever again.

That was November, 2006. I had made love to my husband that morning and sent him off to his ex that night. I drove him to the airport but we were in that crazy rush of doing too much in too little time. Somehow we needed two cars going to the airport and this man got involved.

He was there.

He saw the last day of my marriage.

That's what it was. The last kiss. I never kissed my husband again. He stopped being my husband on that trip. Oh, sure, the divorce would happen once he returned, but he never returned to me.

And there we were in the store, right next to the cheese display, and I was looking at a person I couldn't remember from anyone. Why not? Because, back then I loved my husband so much and trusted in Allah so much that I truly never took a second glance at a man's face. I truly never placed any interest in any man's features. I never memorized eyes, or nose, or mouth. Years of men never made it into my brain. He was one of them.

I had my mind, my heart, my body and soul for only one man. I never loved anyone more. Never. And I mean that includes my mother, father and children. Right or wrong. Right....or wrong.

"How are you doing?" He asks like he cares; like he knows. And I look downward and say the only thing that really I'm allowed to say in public.

"Alhumdulillah."

"If you need anything. I am here." He says like he cares.

"Thank you." And I walk away from a man offering kindness.

He appears again at the check-out to offer chocolate to Mr. Boo, who was a cranky customer. I declined because I keep forgetting that I'm supposed to take offerings from Middle-easterners. I get too American and say, "Oh, no thanks. He'll be on the ceiling if he eats that."

The cashier had to have him verify my ID for my school employee discount, which of course I'm not any more, but I use it nonetheless. He holds my ID picture in his hand and I wonder.

Somewhere there is a kind man for me. Somewhere. There just has to be.

I pay my money and we leave. I think to thank him and say goobye but I don't. It isn't right.

Turns out he's married to a woman in Egypt. No need for that replay.

Found out from AbuBoo.

He remembers this man too. My former beloved husband remembers that time. He remembers.

This is why I don't leave the house. It hurts.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life Changes on a Dime


There is something in the wind right now. Spring? Don't know. Maybe it's just the odor of not showering. But whatever is going on, it is enabling change. I feel it!

I did commit to God to be more serious about my marriage search. The Tunisian that's been flitting in and out of my weeks, is no longer taking my time. I can't. Since that decision was made, I have three very sincere men talking to me.

I am seeing how a wonderful opportunity can change my world in a split second.

Just as I was drying Mr. Boo from "swimming" in the tub (it's all in the marketing, people), I got a strange number calling me on my phone. Yep, I picked it up and discovered it was London calling. I had an immediate interview with one of the agencies I have contacted in my search for overseas employment. This placement would be in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As I struggled to keep the hair dryer from Mr. Boo's hands, I spoke to Cornelia in the most intelligent way I could. I answered many thought-provoking questions to the best of my abilities, alhumdulillah. I do interview well.

Would I consider teaching at a woman's university? Yesssssssss.

Would I be OK with earning 11,000 Riyals a month? I said, "Yes," and then checked it out. OK, yes, I would!

Oh, and there was additional money towards housing and then some more towards a furniture allowance.

Then there was the promise of flight tickets for me and three dependents. Hey, Reader, wanna get adopted? This sure beats Morocco and Yemen acting like I MIGHT be able to get some money towards air fare for me...but not a thing for Mr. Boo. Oman did offer my air fare, but not his AND they are really dragging their sandalled feet.

And something most Americans could seriously drool over: free medical care.

Interview inshahallah next week with the school.

Next week one of the men is talking about coming out to meet me.

Which do I want? Job? Man? Because, I can't have everything.
I'll tell you what I want. I want what is the best. And I put my trust in Allah.

I am not just going to talk the talk of, "letting go." I need to walk that walk and honestly not try to grab the wheel and force the direction I'm headed. It ain't gonna work any way! I have to use my mind, my heart, my eyes, and ears. I need to make decisions over time for what is the absolute best.

I have five weeks of money. FIVE! FIVE WEEKS! FIVE WEEKS TO HAVE A PLACE! That needs to get sung to the tune of the Subway commercials, of course.
God knows what happens next.

I'm glad somebody does!

Keep reading and I'll tell you when I learn something new.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Story of My Life


Ever thought of the title for your story? I'm talking about your life story. What would that be?

When I was grieving for my dead friend Robin, I knew that her life, which ended at 42, was not what I wanted. I wanted to live. It thought about what I needed. I needed a life. I needed to jump start my life. I thought about one of my favorite movies, "The Year of Living Dangerously."
I started to take risks. You can't explore your life or your faith without taking risks. So, I walked on new paths, I signed up for dance classes, and I talked to strangers in ethnic markets. I made great friends and began to live again.
For a while, I thought that would be enough and staying married, as I had promised, would be a compromise. I could really live apart from him while still being married to him. It grew more unsettling.
I went to go see my father and his live-in girlfriend. She was the only woman who has loved my father AND loved me. She had already been through cancer therapy and it was in remission. This beautiful lady told me, "Why say that you are in, 'The Year of Living Dangerously'? Why not just be in The Year of Living?"
I took her words to heart and settled my sh*t down. That calming in my life took months and would ebb and flo. Sometimes, I would live one and sometimes the other. I always realized how dangerous life could be and that eventually got me to be more careful with the life I had.

When I left my kids' dad and went out on my own, I grew tired of saying, "I'm separated." It felt so weird to say that I, personally, was less somehow; reduced and split. I felt better than I had in years. So, one time, while I was trying to put those deep thoughts into words, I said, "I'm separated but whole."

Ooooh! Yes! That was was I meant. It was sooooo deeep. But after saying it to myself a few times, I realized that it actually sounded like, "separated butthole". I cracked up so bad! Ya, there I was trying to be profound and actually I was a total doofus.

I decided then if I ever wrote a book about my escapades of my single days that I would indeed call it, "Separated Butthole."




Time moved on, and I met Mr. Boo's dad. When I was getting ready to fly to Egypt to see him again, I decided on a new book in the saga. Title? "It's Been a Long Journey and I Haven't Even Gotten on the Plane."
It was the story of going to Islam and feeling the blessings come after hardship. It was going to Egypt and having the marriage and the honeymoon and the happy ending. That was 2002.
Even with coming back and being discriminated against and being fired, I still felt the happy ending with my man. I felt that for three and half years of marriage. In March, 2004, I was told three days after my lawsuit settled that he wanted, "to return," his ex whom he had divorced three times already. This was not just a new chapter, it was a new book.


When I was so stuck in stressed out sadness from being a woman with the polygyny secret, I decided that I was, "Honorary Arab." That incarnation of me who wrote the first blog. I thought I might publish all those angst-riddled rants. The response from the literary agent? Not funny enough! LOL! Like I was trying to create, "POLYGYNY! THE MUSICAL!"
It's funny, I don't think I've been creating book titles lately. Have I? Maybe I did, but I just didn't remember. Or, maybe I've still been writing and living out "Honorary Arab."



But lately, a new title came to my mind. "What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Life Like This?" Ya, that's the book I'm creating now. It reminds me that I really am deserving of better. To image it; see it as real, and then live accordingly.

Oh, I should mention that my dad's live-in girlfriend later died of cancer. She was a treasure! Her life energy was so healing for me. May Allah forgive her sins and grant her paradise. Once again, another death reminded me to live.

Live.

Decide on your book's title and live.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fuzzy Pink Jammies



Asalamu Alaykom,






As women, Allah forces us to chill out once a month. We are not the same as men. We are forced to surrender by rendering us weak. Why? Allah knows. I think it's because we wouldn't stop multi-tasking without a reminder to rest.

Chilling out is easier in fuzzy pink jammies. Until Sunday, I didn't have any. Allah is the best provider. Today, I am typing to you in total fleecy comfort. I should mention that I have not had warm jammies since I got rid of everything and moved to a warm climate. When I moved back to the Land of Icy Winds, I had only thin fabric and capris to wear around the house. I decided NOT to spend money on warm pjs.

What changed?

I got up off my butt and went on a search.

Waiting for happiness to come knock on the door isn't a good plan. The birds don't sit in the tree and wait for the nest to materialize. See how the birds have to do their part? They absolutely fly out and search for their needs. On Sunday, I went out of my hermit-like cave (otherwise known as my apartment) and felt the wind on my face. We were supposed to go to the playground.

The day before we had gone to the playground to meet a man with whom I had been matched. This matrimonial matching was done by Muslim volunteers in the metro area. I filled out an app. and so did he. Then, the people, who I've never met before, decided I would be good for this man. We talked on the phone and he was fine. Then, I got his photos and he got mine. It was a little iffy. I agreed to meet him (just in case he looked better in person) and it was not good. Zero attraction. I mean NOTHING to build on. He'll be fine for someone, just not me.

After fifteen minutes, I said,"I agree we match on paper, but I don't think we match in reality."
That was Saturday.

Sunday, we were just trying to make it back so that we could play but the wind prevented us. What to do? Well, we realized that our Muslim neighbor kids from down the hall were outside and enjoying the sidewalk. We enjoyed playing with them. It sure felt better than meeting with yet another halal set-up (that fails miserably).

When we said, "good-bye," I had a sixth sense to head to the dumpster. Yes, I am a dumpster-diver. It's one more adventure level above garage sale-ing. I have no shame grabbing someone's throw-offs. They should be the one feeling the shame for junking perfectly good gear.

There was, on the top of the pile, in a beautiful gift bag, an array of bachelorette party items. I could see all the cards. There was an unopened package of various scented lotions. Grabbed it. Searched some more. Found an unopened pack of colorful Post-It Notes. Oprah Magazine. AND! A new pair of fuzzy pink jammies. My size. My sensibilities. Mishmaool! Unbelievable!

Except, I do believe. I believe that Allah is The Best of Providers. Everything that comes my way is by His allowance. Remember the leather couch?

One of my favorite stories of faith is about a Canadian man who lost everything in a forest fire. The flames chased him out of his home so quickly that he had nothing left. He had to stay with a friend far away. In the chaos of that time, he started to lose hope. He wondered how he would survive beyond that moment. Little did he know that the whole time he was searching for answers, the sweepstakes officials were looking for him. He had won (and won big) and all they needed to do was hand over the cash. The whole time he was worrying could have been spent differently. He was taken care of.

So am I. So are you.

Allah knows your needs better than you.

Alhumdulillah for fuzzy pink jammmies and for the renewed faith that comes with them.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Impossible Love




I can't stand the rain

I can't stand the rain
Against my window
Bringing back sweet memories
I can't stand the rain
Against my window
Because he's not here with me

Hey window pane
Do you remember
How sweet it used to be
When we were together
Everything was so grand
Now that we've parted
There's one sound
that I just can't stand



It is cold and rainy here today. As a mom, you have to part the curtains and tell your kid how we need the rain and to be happy for it. You have to. It's part of the contract. Alhumdulillah, into every life some rain must fall.

There's something so sad in reading the news that Slyvia Plath's son ended his life. Her sadness reached from a London flat to the wilderness of Alaska. He had run so far away from his mother's death. He had not been able to jump out that open window, which she had left open to prevent him from dying with her that day in 1963. This time, he jumped downward and let the grip of his mother's grim genius grab hold of him in an embrace which killed.

Does it even matter what his name was? Does it matter the work he did? His career path was so simmilar to my father's. He loved and cared for the world and yet the world wasn't enough for him.

Subhanallah. Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioon. From Allah we come and to Allah we return.

I had to learn more about his stepmother, who I never knew about. I never did. It wasn't just that a tragic woman killed herself. It was the beginning of an epic Greek tragedy where the mother, the mistress, the bastard child, and now the abandoned son all scattered the stage.
Subhanallah. Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioon. From Allah we come and to Allah we return. May Allah have mercy on all their souls.

The name of the book which discusses Assia, the much maligned who couldn't live in a ghost's shadow, is "The Lover of Unreason."

She was, indeed, beautiful and striking in the way that all clambering whores are. She was a whore to the core. She was. And I have a kind of love for her, as I always have for women who don't understand their worth without a man. She was a Marilyn Monroe for the literary set.

She wanted the impossible love. She left Nazi Germany in search of a protector who could excite her need for new and exiting. The story of a blade of grass dipped in Dior shows her romantic yearning to create the ideal coupling of modern day star-crossed lovers.

And they suffered. She knew that Sylvia and the children would suffer. She just didn't know how she and her unborn child and then later her only offspring would suffer. She didn't realize that when a husband marries his mistress he creates a job opening. Except, her man was crafty. He hadn't even married her! That's what messed her up. She might have thought he'd cheat on her once she was his wife, but hadn't counted on him going behind her back while they were still adulterers.

It's so sordid. So horrible. I'm drawn to the tale which makes a delicious read until you get to the part about Shura and now Nicholas (oh, yes, that was his name), and the only survivor, Frieda.
May Allah protect her.

"When two elephants fight, it's the grass that gets trampled," is a oft-quoted African wisdom.
You could also say, "When two elephants make love, it's the grass that gets trampled."
We, as women, need to be careful who we let into our beds. Those thunderous, uncaring movements which leave us bellyful and heartbroken weaken the umbilical cords connecting us to our children. We leave them behind or, worse yet, we take them with us. None of us should ever take our children to that place of such sadness.

I pray to God that in our quests for the man who could finally be our poet-lovers, that we don't sacrificed the ones who deserve better. They indeed are blades of grass who deserve to grow.
And rain helps the grass to grow. Thank God for rain.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Temporarily Myself



It's funny when I've been reading the comments lately. I love getting them! Keep them coming!
It's just that...I wonder if I really am as upbeat and optimistic as you say. Am I really centered in my faith? You tell me that I am. Are you the mirror or the magic?
I fail too. I am not 100% anything. No one and no thing is good all the time. Remember that the next time you generalize. I really hate it when my older kids generalize. It is based in black-and-white thinking and we need to be grey. Islam is based on the truth that people are imperfect.
I have often said that the Catholic church is founded in that either all good or all bad dichotomy. The Pope continues to reaffirm my negative belief by saying things like he did this week (that condoms should never be used). In many ways, I hate the Catholic thinking.
Funny then, that I made a huge discovery in my genealogy. On St. Patrick's Day, I was thinking about my one-fourth Irish heritage. My mom's mom was dirt-poor Irish. She was a farm girl who made her way to secretarial school and was smart enough to marry a man with ambition. They would build a business and become rich enough to build a beautiful home on the hill. I never liked her.
When I met her, she was old. She was ornery. She always corrected my mom and made her feel stupid and inferior. I saw that. That Grandma was the one who cared more about the designer name on the clothes than the person inside them. She made up her face at a huge vanity mirror surrounded by bright round bulbs and pursed her lips as she powered her nose. She was regal the way nouveau riche are. It was all facade and it was uncomfortable to be around her.
I thought about her this past week. She is my Irish ancestry. I thought about this key point to her personhood this week: her religion. If she was Irish....was...she...Catholic? I knew that my mother never set foot in a Catholic church as a child. As a teen, she was told by her Norwegian father that, as a Protestant, she had to stop dating a Catholic boy. But, was my Irish Grandmother Catholic?
I asked my mom. For the first time ever, we talked about the religion of the woman who raised her. My mother, oddly enough, had just had a conversation with a cashier at the co-op about being named Mary Eileen or Alice or whatever. The cashier told my mom that all the first-born Irish daughters took Mary as the prefix to their name. It was then that my mom remembered: her mother, when recounting tales of being a young girl on the farm, would be called, "Mary _______".
Yes, my Grandmother was Catholic. How did I live to 40 before I realized that? Why had my own mother and I NEVER talked about it? Remember, my mom was going for her theology degree while I was growing up. We talked, and still talk, about religion all the time. Why was this never spoken? No other person had a greater impact on my life than my mother and her biggest influence was a Catholic woman.
I went on to marry a Catholic man and do my best to live within the confines of a Catholic family. I failed miserably. If I had thought about my dislike for my Irish Grandmother's fake festoonery, I would have steered clear of my equally irksome mother-in-law. I continue to attract Catholic men like, "the latest and greatest," who is now being supported by a blond lawyer, and more recently, "my former seatmate". And if there is another one lined up, please tell him to go away.
Our grandparents shaped so much of our today. I wanted a Grandmother who was accessible and loving; much like I wanted a mother to do the same. Yes, I wanted that ease of love. I wanted that comfortableness of being held close and not of suffocating. I keep looking for that and often in very stupid ways.
Mr. Boo has been talking of his grandfather like never before. This is stemming from our visit to my friend in February. He got to see how loving grandparents act with a grandchild.
"I have a Grandma and a Grandpa," he would tell others and maybe himself more than anyone. He needed to reaffirm his place of honor in another family.
Because of Mr. Boo, I tried to call my dad. I felt very guilty. Since getting my new phone I had not programmed his number into my new one. This means that for three months I had not called him. We traded emails back and forth but we had not talked. Seems like I had to send him one more email asking for his number. I never would have imagined our relationship becoming like this for me.
I called but got his girlfriend. Though she never has been too keen to talk to me, she was this week. She wanted to let me know that my father was diagnosed three months ago with Alzheimer's.
That's as hard to write now as it was to hear then.
He's always been the absent minded professor---really. He can't switch gears out of his deep thoughts. He's really such a brilliant man. I told her my assessment but I also know that the V.A. Hospital doctor could be accurate. My dad could be slowly losing his mind.
"My friends have started to notice," she added.
I worry for him that a woman who is only a, "girlfriend," might not want to put up with a forgetful man, no matter how handsome. He left all his ideals of left-wing, touchy-feely environmentalism for a Republican army widow. I wonder how that will pan out.
I do know that all the years I spent wishing for a different relationship with my father never meant that I got one. At this point, I am content with what the two of us have had. I do love him. I do respect him. Islam has helped me work that out. I pray for him every fajr.
My grandmother.
Mr. Boo's grandfather.
Here I am. I am realizing more and more that I am here. I don't know if I really am who you say I am. I do know that I am, in large part, shaped by those family members, who exactly like me, are temporary beings.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Where in the World?


I've been answering ads for jobs overseas.

I answered an ad from Turkey. It might not be my qualifications or my cover letter which cause me to lose out. It might well be my covered head. Did you know that Turkey has had many clashes between religion and culture? Read about it here.

This aversion to Islam is kind of crazy considering how many mashahallah gorgeous Turkish masjids there are. Before even coming to Islam, I was mesmerized by the Blue Mosque.

This week, I did get an interview with a placement agency for a job in Oman. I do think that it would be the height of humor for Allah to get me Oman. Why?

I've been praying, "Oh, Allah, please send me a man."

Instead? Allah SWT might very well send me Oman.



Oman looks beautiful. It's called, "The Switzerland of the Middle-east".
I looked up the women's rights in Oman. I think any woman considering employment overseas needs to find that out from objective internet sources and friends.
This job search has turned into an interesting geography lesson as well. I always enjoyed learning about other people and places. This time (as they say in the movie trailers) it's personal!
May Allah help all of us to find the place where we best grow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

24


Asalamu Alaykom!

There are A LOT of things going on, which I will blog about inshahallah in the future days.

However, I have the best news

but...

um...


this is mommy news.


WARNING:

MOMMY NEWS IS OFTEN

TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE

TO EARS UNACCOSTUMED

TO ISSUES OF CHILD REARING!


OK, now that we have that out of the way
....ready?


24 HOURS DRY!


Mr. Boo has graciously agreed to potty train. ALHUMDULILLAH! This headstrong young man has given me a run for my money (literally since the dang Pull-ups are $16 a pack) for over a year and a half. This is like inconceivable for me, since my older son potty trained completely (day and night with never an accident) right before the age of two.

For Mr. Boo, I started him on a potty when he was almost two-years-old. He had been in cotton diapers his whole life up until then. He was doing pretty well but then we had a medical emergency.

When he was two weeks before he second birthday, he injested lead pellets from a broken maraca. This necessitated a ride to the ER, me battling the dotors, an elevated lead level, an eight day hospital stay with his system being flushed (imagine turning the water faucet on full blast and that was him eliminating), and an appendectomy. Whew! That was some time!
The truth is that he was physically incapable of potty training after that. His body needed to heal. He had been through major surgery and a major ordeal.

Then, a couple of months later, it was time to wean him. Ya, I nursed him for 25 months. None of my kids ever had a bottle ever and especially not of formula. The other kids got weaned at 18 months for my son and 22 months for my daughter. OK, breastfeeding tangent is done. The point is: I couldn't potty train while I was weaning him.

You can't make a child navigate two major milestones at the same time. A month after weaning, we moved to be with Baba and he got his own room. I tried to do some maneouvers with him only to become a stark raving mad looney----not the right time.

Two months after that, I went back to work and he started going to daycare.

One month later, we moved out of Baba's place.

Guess what? Then that daycare provider decided it wasn't the right fit for her and I had to start him somewhere new.

It was always something! He only had four months of potty training before we moved back here again. Though he had been doing great in our apartment down south, he lost that momentum once we were living with my mom.

Gosh, he's been through a lot!

Only two months after arriving back up north, we moved out of her place and he started a new daycare. It again took months before he felt comfortable using the toilet there. However, he was only there four months before I had to pull him (since I stopped working).

I've been working with him on THE RULES. It's THE RULE that you have to use the toilet right away when you wake up. For some reason, kids don't question why it is the rule. You just say it like you mean it and DO IT every time. I knew this with my older kids, but slacked off with everything else that was going on. It's THE RULE you have to use the potty before that TV show that's going to start, or before that fun activity that you really want to do. It's THE RULE that you have to use it before you take a nap, or before meals, or before you leave the house. It's THE RULE to use the toilet when you come back inside.
I almost forgot the flip side to adhering to the rules. You've got to keep on nailing CHOICE. I wrote about this before. Mr. Boo really started talking about going to school after seeing his buds down south get ready every morning. So, when he wouldn't want to sit on the toilet I would calmly explain that then he won't be able to go to school. Or, if he was really wanting to get going out, I would remind him that the toilet was first and we couldn't leave until he went potty. If he didn't go potty, then we wouldn't leave. If he wanted to be a big boy, then he couldn't wet the diaper any more.

Oh, and Spiderman underwear helps. He gravitates between Spiderman and Thomas the Take Engine---the most violent active character and the most docile dull character. He can only wear that underwear inside the apartment---not out...not yet. I mean DUH! Kids love certain things and we need to manipulate the hell out of those loves.

He loves lollipops. So, you know what I did? I bought a big friggin' bag of Mini Tootsie Pops from Walgreens. After every poop in the toilet, he gets a lolli-poop. Ya, it's a silly name. Laugh about the deal. Don't go ape-sh*t about it, but keep light. Keep upbeat!

If you want upbeat potty training, you've got to download this Huggies video. And I'll tell you something amazing: that family you see in the beginning could not look more like Mr. Boo with his mommy and daddy than if they cast lookalikes. For real, that man who plays the first daddy is a dead-ringer for AbuBoo. You never really see the mom that well, but there is a serious simmilarity to me (except I weigh about a million pounds more). The little boy is physically so much like Mr. Boo except my dude is browner mashahallah with straighter hair. And there we all are in a potty training hip-hop video!

Maybe Mr. Boo could have done potty training ealier if I could have done it better. I couldn't stay calm about his potty training. This was my problem. I could not enroll him in a preschool. I could not save money from all those trips to Target. Last year, I was really bothered by Baba's distain for a child who was still in diapers.

I decided that I can't change a lot of things in my life right now, but I can devote more time and effort to my little man. He is such a cool kid! And, after reading his recent history, you have to admit that he's been a good team player.

I say that to him all the time, "Come on, dude! You're on my team!"

From time to time, we talk about who else could be on our team but the core is us---Mr. Boo and UmBoo.

"Mommy, I can't wait to grow up and be just like YOU!"

Now the last time he said that, his statement was followed up by, "...and grow hair in my nose!"

LOL! Yes, he actually said, "Mommy, I can't wait to grow up and be just like YOU and grow hair in my nose!"

But this time? I had to ask, as I buckled him in his carseat, "Why? What do you want to do just like me?"

"I want to make milk."
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!

"Honey," I tell him, "Boys and men don't make milk."

"THEY DON'T?!"

"No, Sweetie, sorry," I said and I really was sorry. I hated to crush those dreams of nursing.

"Ahhhh..." he went from dissapointed to deep in thought. I started up the car and started to drive away.

Then he spoke again from the backseat.

"Then what about the thing in my belly?"

I thought about that one. Pulled up to the stop sign and pondered it.

"Where the baby grows?" I asked.

"Nooooooooo!"

"The womb?" I tried again.

"NOOOOOOOO!"

I sat that. Could he mean?

"The breasts?"

"YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! What about the breasts?"

"Oh, Honey," I tried to break it to him gently, "You won't get breasts."

"I WON'T?!"

"No, sorry."

And I drove off with The Current playing some head-bopping tune. We needed some serious head-bopping music after that.

He's growing up. He's realizing what he can control in this world and what he can't. I guess I'm learning the same thing. May God bless the Mommy and Mr. Boo team and keep us safe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When it is Right


You must never be fearful
about what you are doing
when it is right.

Rosa Parks


I am here.

It was sunny here today. I don't need to find the sun somewhere else. I'm here for now. I've got a phone interview on Wednesday for an overseas teacher placement agency.

This is closer to what is right.

Am I giving up a big opportunity? Maybe. But even if it worked out, I would be settling for something that was not my highest hope.

I do want to marry a good Muslim man.

I would never settle for a Muslim man who doesn't pray five times a day or who drinks on occassion. Why would I allow a man in our lives who isn't meeting the basic standards of what Mr. Boo's role model needs to be?

No.

It's not just me. It's us. We need a good Muslim man.

No more discussions with my former seatmate. All done.

On the matrimonial site, my internet clicks are getting closer to 10,000. When it reaches that number, I am closing it down. If they have not found me by now, then that's their fault!

I need to get over the men who have been wrong for me.

I am great! So are you.

However...

God is the Greatest. Allahu akbar.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cheese Puffs for Dinner


Mr. Boo and I feasted on lemonade and cheese puffs for dinner.

Criminal?

No.

Our breakfast was very nutrious. Our lunch was late and filling.

So, we ate what we wanted to. Mmmmmmm it was good too! Eventually, we added some carrot sticks.

You know what? I'm sick of eating what I'm supposed to. I'm sick of people, "shoulding" on me.

It's not just food. I'm not really talking about food. You know me. I have to go for the analogies to make sense of this life. The Quran is filled with analogies. Allah knows we need them.

On Saturday, I learned that one of the men I had previously talked to for marriage two years ago was actually a wife beater. This would be one of the, "good," Muslim men. Subhanallah! And here's the wackiest: people who knew me and knew him didn't warn me. Oh, they knew! They knew. And they didn't warn me. They encouraged me.
Where would I be if I had married him?

Well, I met with the Tunisian instead of thinking too much about the past. I like him but I don't know if he is really interested in settling down. He is very kind. He actually bought my G1 phone. Remember that? I am richer! Mwaaaaaahaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaa!

Well, I can buy groceries. Hence, the cheese puffs.

But you want to know who is on my mind too much? My former seatmate. He called last night with an offer. This is real, folks. Two plane tickets. A weekend going out and having fun in the sun. An opportunity to see if his feelings of destined meeting on the plane mean that we should meet again and see if there is a chance for us.

No, he is not Muslim. He did readily agree that there is no other God than God. I asked him with some trepidation, "Could you consider Mohammed as a prophet?"

"Yes, I could but," and I held my breath while he paused, "he is no better than Jesus, if Jesus is a prophet."
Well, that is just perfect! He actually answered the question Christians are asked to make sure they do not believe Jesus is son of God (astragferallah).

I also made sure I know who he prays to. You know? If, as a man raised Catholic, he prayed to a saint, or the Virgin Mary, then that is a no go. We, as Muslims, only pray to God with no intercessors.
"Who do you pray to?"

"I pray only to God."

Works for me.

OK. So he's not mashy. He's not macaroni with bechamel. He might very well be cheese puffs. Whatever he is, he is a change. He has been persuing me since the day we met. He is sincere in his efforts to get to know me. He has listened to my explanations of Islam.

I think we might just be flying out again. I'll pray istakkarah tonight.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Men Are Untrainable

We’ve come to the sad conclusion
men are untrainable.
They expect too much.
They are restless.
If they’re young,
they’re impatient.
Mr. Bunker Roy,
Founder of
The Barefoot College, India
to see the inspiring video,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another One Needs a Hug


It wasn't my first phone call.

I first tried to call an old friend. I haven't seen her since I returned. That's seven months. Why? She's busy. I get that. She's got a career, a husband and kids. I left a message. She never called me back.

I then called a woman I've been meaning to talk to again. She and I have some parallel paths in our past. Though we are years apart (she actually is old enough for the man I met on Thursday), the two of us aren't that dissimmilar in our Islamic maturity. We both reverted to Islam, both married Muslim men, and both divorced them. We have both been left wondering about our place in the community as born-Muslim friends (like the one I called and didn't hear back from) seem too busy to care.
She had started to see a non-Muslim man.

She took off hejab.

She has stopped praying.

Subhanallah!

"I still love Allah Subhana Wa Tala," she told me flat out.

I know she does.

I am truly hurt for her.

Aren't you?

She entered into Islam with purity and, through mismanaged marriages and a disconnect with others, she is now leaving Islam. I can't really blame her. I can't.

"Life is not for the faint of heart," my mother is fond of quoting.

It's so true, isn't it?

No, life is not for the faint of heart, or for the sensitive, or for the Muslim-American woman in hejab who only wanted to serve Allah with all her heart. Subhanallah! How many reverts need to stop practising their Islam before the community realises they are not caring for their sisters?

We sisters need support. We are truly alone in the world. We don't have a mother or father who will guide us and our decisions based in Islamic principle. We either have to face celebrations filled with fitnah or shun them and be away from those who used to love us when we were, "Jane." Now, as, "Aisha," we don't feel apart of any group. The ones who used to embrace us can't truly treasure all of us and the ones who should step in aren't willing to do so.

We need husbands. We do! We need men not boys. We need a way to meet in halal settings with real opportunities for communication. And we need not to be mocked for having needs. For me, I do not have any male family members in my life. None. I only know my father through emails now. There are no brothers, uncles, or cousins in my life. Think about that! I love the input of the male mind. How do I get that balance when I am not allowed any interaction? I can't. I miss it. That's a real need. More than the need for sex, I need that man who can talk to me and calm me down in the storm.

We need respect. We really are Muslim. You have any idea how hard we have struggled to get where we are? We literally changed everything. You will never know how many beautiful clothes I gave away in an effort to be a better person. I look different. I grew up looking one way and now I look more different than I ever imagined. In the inside, I am filled with a new language and new ideas, which I have had to painstakingly learned bit by bit. And there is all the cultural information I've had to sift from the truth. There are all the mean awful people I've had to make excuses for along the way.

What can I tell her when I hear that she has stopped practising Islam? I tell her that I understand and that I am still her sister.

Do you know the last person I told that to? She stopped having any contact with me at all. This is after years of loving each other. That hurts.

It is interesting to me that both of these women left the practise of Islam after spending significant time seeing non-Muslim men. The hejab came off and not just for him. The hejab came off and stayed off for everyone.

Probably hurts them more than it hurts me. But, it does hurt me.

I left the apartment last night for a walk. I walked to Mr. Boo's former daycare, where there was a Muslim woman. We talked and she was nice. However, she could not agree with my request and reason for my visit. No, she would not watch my son if I get a job interview. I could not pay her to watch my son so I could get a job. She would watch him only once I had a job. Catch-22.

"Call me when you get a job!" were her last words. She called them out in friendliness. I know. I just don't think she understood how hard life can seem---how impossible sometimes. It could be easier and I don't think we reverts are asking too much.

We left from there and I wondered where we were going. In so may ways, I wondered where we all were going.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Supper Over


Supper over and dishes washed

Nothing left but a piece of squash!

from the song Old Dan Tucker
in the books from Laura Ingalls Wilder


The evening is over. I did go to a wonderful home with a wonderful family and had wonderful food. There was really too much food: mashy, okra, salad, chicken, lamb, and my favorite macaroni with bechamel. Soooo delicious that I protested but still ate everything on my plate. What is it with Egyptians? They force-feed others with such delight! Really, I never feel so overfed as I do with these people. I love them though. They are so fun.

What else do you want to hear? Oh, yes! The man! I had accepted the invite for dinner before I even understood there was going to be a man. It was not just any man but a close relative of my sweet friend. That is awkward. It is also tantilizing in that it seems like destiny knocking at your door.
How was he? Honestly, I could not look at him very much. I saw him when he walked in. Yes, he looks younger than his 50+ years, mashahallah. It was just too uncomfortable to make eye contact and I'm normally at ease.
You know who I really fell in love with? His daughter! She's this gorgeous teen. Oh, my! She is just adorable! She and I talked a lot. I know she was interviewing me for the vacancy left open when death intervened. She looked me in the eye and said, "I was praying for my dad to find someone."
I know she hoped that she was looking at the answer to her prayers. That hurt me because I didn't feel that I was. I did offer to take her out practice driving so she could get her license. I'm good at this and I felt for her.
After I reached home, I got her call. She called me. I told the girl how my son had said about her, "I miss her so much," as I was buckling him in his carseat.
I wondered if I had left something at the house. No. She wanted to explain her dad more to me. She wanted it to work if at all possible.

In many ways, I am too sensitive for this. I hurt for her. No, I don't want to sacrifice myself for her chance at happiness, or his chance to dispel loneliness. I hear her heart.

I can't imagine saying, "yes". I don't feel the connection. I don't feel the communication. I'm not attracted in any way. I almost hate to list the reasons, as I truly do respect this man and his interest to marry again. He is a good man.
In other words, he did not ask about any clothing size.
He did say that he doesn't like movies. He actually has a lot of disdain for them. That's not me. I love movies. Right? Wrong? Don't know. But it's my truth. I imagine my man will be able to sit down on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn between us and enjoy a show.
So, I'm looking for the man in between: the moderate Muslim. The man who will do his prayers but will still go out and enjoy what the world offers.
Inshahallah, I have a job interview next week with a placement agency. If accepted, they will help me find a job teaching English overseas. I have slated a preferrence for the Middle-east.
The most important man to me is Mr. Boo. I simply have to keep us afloat by any means necessary. I am truly the only one he can count on. Sad, but true. No matter how I feel about not having a man to love as a husband, I still have a little man who is dependent on me making the right choices for the both of us.
May Allah guide all of us to the straight path.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Simple Act of Faith


This David Gray song

reverberates through my head.

A simple act of faith.
A simple act of faith.
A simple act of faith...

And I'm thinking:

what's my simple act of faith today?

Today,

I don't have to make anything

in the world better

but myself.

If I do it to please Allah,

then that's my simple act of faith.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Was Rescued


He and I were introduced by a family who knew each one of us.

We met only in public.

We kept all talk and actions halal.

I helped him and he helped me.


We prayed istakkarah.

We knew each other three weeks before he said, "Inshahallah, we will marry."

Per his request, I called the sheik and asked when would be a good day to come in for a Shari'ah, or Islamic, marriage.

It had gone so far.
It is very hard for me to fathom how something, which had a foundation of goodness, could crumble so quickly and completely.

I had been praying on time, fasting, reading Quran, and both listening and memorizing Quran. I wanted to be good. I asked God's forgiveness for any bad. I pleaded with God to give me the good. I changed my phone number. I eliminated my yahoo account. My profile was down from any matrimonial site.

So, on a day when the sun isn't shining, I have to remember that the source of light is still there. I do not have a fiance. I do not. And I have to say, "Alhumdulillah," and realize that if this is what Allah has planned for me, then it is for the best.
The best, in my mind, was to get married to a tall, dark, handsome man of faith, who had a degree, a career, a home and ...it wasn't the best. It was not best for me. My mind is not as expansive as it would need to be to really see what is best. I have to surrender those wants and let Allah give me what I need. I must not have needed this man as a husband. I prayed for the best and Allah decided that he was not.

Each hopeful cell in my body has to release him and I don't feel like I'm totally detoxified from our time of talking and laughing together. All those times when we came to a point of realized silence and just looked deep into each others' eyes...

Even when I walk with Mr. Boo up our apartment sidewalk, I think of him playing with my son in the snow. The snow has melted.

That man simply could not love me.

You know how some people are blind? They really can't see. You can't make them see. If you stayed with them, hoping they would eventually see, well that would be super stupid. He could not love me and was never going to be able to love me. Sure, he felt my love. Yes, he never felt like this before, but...No, he didn't love me.

Love isn't filled with accusations and suspicions. I've never had a man suspect me of worse actions. Subhanallah! This man was so good! Somehow, however, his mind was filled with so much bad.

Alhumdulillah, I found out before marriage. Really. It would have been a hell. Allah rescued me from a terrible fate. I would have willingly entered into a hell, but Allah saved me. There must be better for me ahead, inshahallah.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Good" Muslims


I watched my favorite Sunday news show again and then checked out their website. I wanted to find more information about the new Gallup Poll about U.S. Muslims.
I found the report here. I urge you to download the PDF and not just get the distilled information through the filter of the media.
While I was searching, I also found U.S. News & World Reports' Secrets of Islam.

This is a good biography of our Prophet Mohammad. Why do I like it? It is simple. Is it all true? Not sure. Read it and see if you like it too.

I was just sent this site, which looks pretty good.

I'm going to be passing on these links to someone new I met.

When I was flying south, I was too hurried in my departure to think much about the flight itself until I was actually in my seat. I had been fasting all that Monday as I scurried around: cleaning, washing clothes, and packing. I had not known I was flying out until that morning, when I had learned of the sudden passing of my lovely friend's daughter.

So, I sat in my seat breaking my fast with Mr. Boo when my seatmate arrived. It was a man. I was chowing down that chicken sandwich I had prepared earlier. I was wondering how rude that seemed, but when he pulled out his sandwich I relaxed. I did not, however, talk to him---this was partly because I was eating, but mostly because of my hejab.

My hejab reminds me that I am Muslim. Maybe I would act worse without it. I think I would, actually. The hejab is that string wrapped around my finger to help me remember something important. It signals those in the mainstream that I do not share the same code of conduct as most. I want more modesty and I want more respect.

Time for take-off. I calmed Mr. Boo. I looked out the window and saw the lights below. My older children. My mom. My friends. The man who had refused to pick up his phone all day. My problems. All the problems of each one of those points of light. Maybe, in addition to the lives, there were deaths below; deaths like the one I was mourning.

I sighed but couldn't calm myself. I pulled out my Ahmed Ali translation of the Quran. It was my first time reading Quran on an airplane. I read of Prophet Musa/Moses and how he was helped deliever those sufferers to a new land.

Eventually, the lack of sleep and stress exhausted my energy reserves. I slept. I probably snored. I awoke when it was time for drinks. I got my version of a mocktail: cranberry juice with gingerale. Still, I did not really talk with the man siting next to me. I didn't really even look at him.

What made me strike up a conversation was the descent. I get very nervous when I've almost arrived at my destination. I feel like God could take me right before I get my desires fulfilled and I get anxious. When I am in that heightened state, I talk too much. I did then talk to the man next to me.

We talked of the reason for my trip. I learned how his job made him face mortality every day. He shared how his mother's stroke had changed his entire way of life. The wheels touched the ground and I could say, "Alhumdulillah."

Later, at baggage claim we saw each other again and said, "goodbye". I had this handsome Tunisian carrying Mr. Boo's carseat. LOL! So, I was following him and unable to say more.

Guess who contacted me the next day? It was my seatmate. Yep. He had been able to look me up and wanted to send me a note. I sent one back. We corresponded. Eventually, we talked.

He had been charmed by my interactions with Mr. Boo. He liked the calm I exuded. He had never married and has no children. He is my age; 40 years old. He lives in Orlando just a stone's throw from my best friend down there.

I did not see him again. I thought about it! I had no plans for my last day there. He invited us out. I said, "no," and gave him the spiel about Muslims not dating. Oh, ya, he isn't Muslim.

Instead, I was a, "good," Muslim and headed to my former workplace that morning. It was a little chillly. I was going to hang out until an opportunity presented itself. I sat down on my former leather couch, which I had donated to the school when I left in July. This was in an alcove away from everyone. I was going to go on my laptop and get an azan clock for my lovely friend's family.

Apparently, some staff member at the school...and this WOULD be a Muslim...complained. It wasn't proper, they said, for a NON-staff member to be in the building. Yes, I gave up having fun with a nice guy so I could be kicked out LITERALLY PUT OUT ON THE CURB by "good" Muslims.

I can't really regret not meeting up with him. At the time, I had already been falsely accused of stealing and spying by the man here. I didn't have a lot of hope for him, but I still had a hope the size of a grain of sand. For me, as long as there is any hope, I hang on.

There were incredible new allegations upon being picked up from the airport. Totally weird. Totally strange. Disturbing. What he said was strange enough to trouble my mind so that I needed to play Quran throughout the night. That was the, "good," Muslim man.

I was told that we could talk in the days ahead. I tried to set a time with him over the next week and we never met. He was not available yet he didn't want to say we were over, which is what I felt. On Friday, nine days after I last saw him, I finally sent him a text message freeing myself.

I freed myself for what or for whom? I don't know.

I've been talking to my former seatmate. I've just seen him online and sent him the links.

Last night, I went out to dinner with a Muslim man here. We had talked previously and he seemed caring and kind. After dinner, I called to say I got home fine and he asked my bra size.

Sigh...

Time for the job hunt.

The husband hunt is too tough.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Time Travel

.





I had to drive far from where I am now.

I got lost, but in a way I knew where I was going.

I had to show myself that I hadn't dreamt it all.

There was a time and a place when I didn't know.

And I went there with my son.

And I showed him where it all started.

"This is where your father and I met."

Did he understand?

Did he know that his life started in that moment?

My life started too that night.

And my old life ended.

Six years since I had been there

With red chalk in my hand.

I had drawn a heart on asphalt.

"What if the winds blow it away?"

That's what his father had asked.

"The winds will carry our love."

Truly, our love was carried away.

Taken from us.

Next, I went for a divorce

lawyer.

She knew me from the first, then the second,

but hadn't needed to know about the third.

Her Egyptian travel plan needed me.

I helped her with hejab.

Told her of Islam and of a country of Muslims

rather than a Muslim country.

"You didn't know any of this before?"

No. I did not.

In some ways, I wish I never did.

We left for the snowy walkway.

Made a man for us to love.

With a carrot for his nose.

Our only man.

I heard "Deelight" play on the radio

and felt the empowerment of womanhood.

I drove and was driven to be strong.

I walked in

where I was once escorted out.

"Did they let you in here?"

No. They did not.

"Did you get money from them?

Yes, I did. I didn't win.

I settled.

That used to be my office.

I used to have a key.

With so many not having a job

I was at peace not to be beholden.

Still in hejab.

I left.

Time for prayer.

Jummah.

My sleepy boy so heavy in my arms.

No one helping me but Allah.

I prayed and heard the words

which I knew would lead to "yosra".

God spoke before and continues to speak

to me.

I left.

We went to a happy household.

A mother, father and baby.

There was our rockinghorse

from the father

I haven't seen in years.

I didn't cry.

But I could have.

A Moroccan husband.

A beautiful life.

May Allah protect them.

I drove.

There was the house

I could have seen.

The children

I could have gone past.

I did not.

Time travel is tough.

It is also productive.

No longer bullied

by pieces of my past,

I am free to clap my hands

and let go of the wheel

as I sing along to the song.