Monthly Archives: June 2009

Checking In

Subhanallah, I’m looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. I don’t really celebrate the 4th of July because, well…my people weren’t free or independent (but that’s another topic for another day). Last week was stressful at work and this week is incredibly busy. I had somewhat of a conflict with a co-worker and I spoke to management about it. We ended up in mediation which turned out to be ineffectual because she was not receptive to it. I suppose the good part about it is this co-worker knows that she can no longer speak to me in a disrespectful manner. I’m happy that I stood up for myself though. It took courage. As my mom always says, “People only do to you what you let them.” I concur.

I want to get a Wii. I’ve spoken to a good number of people who use Wii Fit and they say it’s fun and a great way to work out. I was thinking of using Wii Fit for the times when I am not in the gym. It’d be nice to work out sans hijab.

Oh and the non-Muslim dude thing continues: Once again, I was minding my own business and I hear “My gosh you are so pretty.” I turned to see who the man was talking to and it was me! WTH? Seriously…

Other than that not much else to tell.

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Random Thoughts & Goals

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-Why did my high school boyfriend (pre-Islam) come into the Urinalysis Lab at work today? He was taking a court-ordered UA (drug testing). I didn’t ask…It’s a small world indeed.

-Speaking of non-Muslim guys, seriously I need to beat them off of me with a stick. What’s really going on? An example: I was minding my own business walking through the skyway and this handsome guy, dressed to the nines in a tailored suit winked at me. He chuckled when I looked at him in confusion. Then he winked again.

-I want to spend time working on my novel. I’ve started and stopped so many times. I’ve also changed the plot and the storyline. Whatever the case this character will not leave me alone. Don’t think I’m crazy but sometimes I hear her- in my mind- telling her story. I’ve heard writers speak about this phenomenon before…does this mean I’m becoming a writer then?

-My character is actually my alter ego. (I promise you I’m not crazy…just little weird at times. 🙂 )

-Sometimes I feel like an “Alien Muslimah”. I’m just so different from most of the Muslimahs I know. But this started before Islam. I’ve always been different. Not weird different but different nonetheless.

-I realize I need to get back to studying. I mean Islamic studying. I don’t see why I can’t commit to at least one hour per week (starting out). I’m thinking I can spend the time doing anything Islamic; listening to lectures, reading Quran, reading other Islamic books, or watching something that promotes Islamic learning. Insha’allah I want to make the effort starting July 1st.

– I also want to spend more time in the gym. I’ve been going regularly but I want my time to be more frequent. I don’t remember if I told you guys or not but I utilized my free appointment with a personal trainer and she designed a work out just for me. It’s actually quite fun. I’m thinking of taking Yoga as well. $38. Can’t beat that…

-Did I tell you Amanda Diva (pictured above) is my alter ego?

I’m Never Getting Married Again 2

It’s amazing how things change in a year. Last May I wrote this post about Muslim women who have said they’re never getting married again. I strongly urged sisters to rethink their stance and said: “I am not going to let one person or even a couple of people deprive me of my right to love again. If you truly believe in Allah and believe that Allah can do anything then I don’t see why some sisters can’t believe that Allah will provide. No matter how dismal it looks.” While I still stand by that statement, I have to say, the thought of never getting married again has crossed my mind on a regular basis. It’s not that I don’t believe Allah can provide for me- because I do- it’s just sad to see the same ole stuff from brothers. I can definitely understand why sisters get tired of trying to sort through brother after brother, hoping for the right match. And even when you think you’ve found the right match you can never be sure. The brother can turn out to be a real beast. (And we already know how many communities protect triflin’ brothers but have no problem outing triflin’ sisters).

I’m not seriously looking for anyone right now but I’ve had brothers try to holler at me. These schmucks have given me pause- FOR REAL. There’s the ex-con, the ultra aggressive chauvinist, the brother who told me “paradise lies under the foot of the husband”, the deceiver, the game player and so much more. What a sad situation!

So, let me say to the sisters I wrote about back in May of last year: I am totally feelin’ you. Last year I didn’t fully understand where you’re coming from but I do now. Am I suggesting that I’ve given up on getting married again? No. But there are times when I feel like it’s not worth it. During those times I think about resigning myself to traveling, reading, studying, cats, and enjoying the companionship of male relatives. No headache and no b.s.

As the old song goes, I can do bad by myself.

The quest to have a more interesting life

catchingTheSun

In case you didn’t know, aside from my spiritual development I have been on a quest to have a more interesting life. I’m tired of the same ole, same ole, stuck-in-rut vibe and want to make the best of my life right now. I want to get out there and do engaging, fun but halal things. So far, I think I’m on the right track. I’ve refused to limit myself or to talk myself out of trying something new. (Hence the Tai Chi class I took.) Now I’m on to something else…kick boxing?

For one, I’ve stuck by my kinda-sorta-New-Year’s-resolutions and I’ve been working out at Snap Fitness. I’ve been reading Quran almost everyday. I’ve taken the trip I’ve wanted to take FOREVER (Rhode Island) and now it’s time to kick into high gear. I’m currently thinking about what other things I can do. One of my friends finally got me (along with my sister) out to the skating rink…and on a weeknight (gasp!) I actually enjoyed myself even though my knee is still aching from when I fell. (Dang, I’m getting old).

So, what’s next? I don’t know. But one thing I’ve decided is to get rid of the b.s. in my life. No more fake people, no more people who drain my energy or waste my time, no more people who aren’t trying to be productive. As cliche as it sounds, life is too short. I’ve become comfortable with who I am and where I’m at in my life right now. If others can’t accept it then that’s their problem.

Since y’all/unna know I keep it real with you, I’m going to- FINALLY- put it out there and say one of the people I had to kick out my life was the man I married. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail but let’s just say after all of background checks, questioning, spending time, trips back and forth, he turned out to be other than what he presented himself to be. (Which goes to show that you can do everything right and still end up with a mess on your hands, ya Allah!) I tried to hang in there with him but it’s difficult to do when there’s no trust, no taking of responsibility and continual lies. So, I had to keep it moving like U-Haul.

But I digress. I’m living life and doing my thing. Where will I end up? Only Allah knows.

What if you don’t want kids or have serious doubts about it?

This is a rhetorical question but also a thought I’ve been having.

No_Kids_Tiny

Lately, I find myself in conversations with people (both Muslim and non-Muslim) about the pros and cons of having kids. I’ve spoken to people who have kids and are bidding their time until those kids are “out of the house” and I’ve spoken to people who have smaller kids who love them to death and couldn’t imagine life without them. I used to want to have a baby very badly. The feeling would come in waves. Sometimes it would manifest itself as severe desire and border on obsession. Eventually I would have a lull. At times I could think of nothing else.

Fast forward to 2009…

I don’t know exactly when or how it happened but my feelings have changed. I’m having serious doubts about having kids and more often than not, I feel like I don’t want them at all. The weird part about is that I like kids. I’m pretty fond of them. I have no problem with other people having kids or being around their kids (unless they’re bad 🙂 ). But when it comes to me…well, I feel like I should sit this one out. (If Allah allows it to remain that way, of course).

Now, if I say this around Muslims…oh just wait for the backlash! They start talking about increasing the ummah, femininity, womanhood in Islam, etc. Some have even suggested that my feelings are from shaitan. (Really?) What I want to know is why my personal decision affects other people so much. Last time I checked this body was mine. Furthermore, I don’t think everyone is cut out to have children. (Look around you, I’m sure you can spot plenty of who shouldn’t have had kids). And I wonder if I’m one of those people.

Some people say that I’m being selfish. They say I don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices that go along with having kids. The irony is every reason I can think of to have kids involves selfishness on my part; the desire to further my legacy, because I feel like I want one, because I want someone to be there for me in my old age etc. But it also has to do with other people’s reasons; societal/Muslim community pressures, being told that I’m incomplete without children, being told that I am abnormal because I don’t want what every woman is told she should want etc. If Allah willed, and I chose to have a child, shouldn’t I be doing it for reasons other than the aforementioned ones?

I’m not trying to start any mass movements here. I think deciding to have children or not is a personal choice. I just want people to take their hands and ideas off my ovaries…

Rhode Island: Travel Bloggin’ Part 2

This is actually the finale. 🙂 I can’t stress how much of a good time I had.

May 30, 2009
This morning I actually woke up at a decent hour. I decided it was time to try The Creperie. I ordered a banana chocolate chip crepe and it was good but I thought I would be sick from all the chocolate. After that I walked around Brown University, bought some items at the bookstore and found myself walking until I reached Benefit Street. I absolutely loved the architecture and snapped photos. The further I walked, the more I realized that I was close to downtown. The thing is, when you’re unfamiliar with a city it looks big to you even if it’s not. Walking to downtown from Thayer Street made me realize that the area is not as big as I was thinking it was.

I spent a good hour and half chillin’ by Waterplace snapping photos and enjoying the weather. It was absolutely beautiful today! I watched couples strolling along the water front and I thought to myself, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to be here. Allah is truly merciful.

After that, I went back to Providence Place Mall, snapped photos of the capital building and people watched. That was a lot of fun because the people here are very different from the people in the Twin Cities. There’s quite a mixture in terms of ethnicity. They’re personable and will speak to you in a genuine and hospitable manner but they won’t get too close. I was content to listen to people’s conversation and hear their Rhode Island/New England accent. I feel like I could actually live here and enjoy it even though it’s small. (And that’s saying a lot considering that I love major cities).

People looked at me with a raised eyebrow since there weren’t many hijabis around. (Apart from the masjid, I saw a total of three.) The good thing is that their curious glances weren’t threatening in any way. People usually gave me a quick look and then they were on their way. I think my first impression of Rhode Islanders was wrong. People were livelier and definitely friendlier today. (I wonder if the weather had something to do with it.)

Finally, instead of relying on the shuttle to come get me and take me back to the hotel, I decided to walk back to Thayer Street up the enormous hills. LAWD! I didn’t think I was going to make it but I did. I came back to the hotel and rested until Mahgrib. I eventually went back out again to meet my myspace friend for tea. We walked up and down Thayer Street talking until I couldn’t stand the mosquitoes gnawing at my flesh any longer.

Oh what a day. Can I say it? I LOVE PROVIDENCE! I still haven’t figured out why I’m so drawn to it but I know that I’m enjoying myself.

May 31, 2009
I woke up early to head out to Horton’s Seafood Restaurant which everyone recommended. I called a taxi and we were on our way. Or so I thought…wouldn’t you know he couldn’t find the place? Is it just my luck or do the taxi drivers in Providence really not know their city? Furthermore, how can you be a taxi driver and not know where you’re going? LOL. It’s not like Providence is that big. Eventually we found the restaurant but it was closed. 😦 I thought to myself, what now? I decided to head back downtown to get something to eat. I was able to try Rhode Island’s famous fried clam strips. YUMMY! I have never tasted clams so good in my life! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

After walking around the mall for a while, I met up with my myspace friend who offered to take me to Newport, Rhode Island (the tourist spot). Of course I accepted and we hopped a bus and spent 40 minutes on it before we actually reached there. When I was doing research on Rhode Island some people suggested Newport was a better place to stay. I weighed my options and eventually decided on Providence because most people said it was “less of a tourist spot.” Aside from that, whatever it was that was pulling me to Rhode Island suggested that I go to Providence- not Newport. I say all of this because once I actually set sights on Newport I knew I made the right decision. Newport was clearly catered towards an older population (most of the shops were closed by the time we got there). However, it was nice to walk around and look at the shops and the neighborhood. Of course I enjoyed the waterfront view.

I wanted to try Rhode Island’s famous “chowda” so we ducked into a place to eat. DELICIOUS! I can never go back to eating chowder out of a can again. I also tried the crab cakes and I wasn’t disappointed. After we ate it was back to Providence and the long, excruciating bus ride. By the time we reached Providence it was 10 and I was ready to go back to the hotel. I said goodbye to my friend and I went back to the room to pack up my stuff. I didn’t get a chance to see Prospect Terrace Park but insha’allah Providence has not seen the last of me.

June 1, 2009
So, here I am all packed up and getting ready to check out of the room. (BTW, the sleep number bed was not all I thought it would be). I’m actually quite sad to be leaving. I’m still not all the way clear as to why I was so drawn to Rhode Island but I do know that I leave with a heavy heart. I liked the people (cordial but not overly friendly- if there is such a thing), the accents (people telling me about the ‘pahk/park’ or the ‘cah’/car), the scenery, and the overall vibe. The Muslim community leaves a little to be desired but who knows? Rhode Island might be my home one day…

For pics from my trip click here. Enjoy!

Rhode Island: Travel Bloggin’ Part 1

As salaam alaikum all,

Alhamdulillah, I just returned from my Rhode Island vacation earlier this evening. Since I took my laptop I decided to do a little travel bloggin’, recapping my day. Some of you may be scratching your head and asking why I chose to go Rhode Island. The answer is: I don’t know. For years know I’ve felt this inexplicable pull towards Rhode Island and Providence in particular. I’ve wanted to go for years now but never had the opportunity. I’ve also tried to get people to go with me but no one seemed interested. Finally an opportunity presented itself and I decided to go (and solo at that). Again, no one else had the time, money or inclination to go and I refuse to pass up an opportunity simply because no one else shares in my vision. So, I booked a flight, a centrally located hotel and off I went. Here are the journal entries I made:

May 28, 2009
I made it to Rhode Island at 11:00pm, hopped a taxi to my hotel and now I’m chillin’ in the room. The plane ride seemed like it would NEVER end. This feels like the longest domestic flight I’ve ever taken even though it’s not. (I’ve flown from Miami to Seattle). I think the reason the flight seemed so long is because I left Minneapolis at 2:30pm when it was sunny and bright and I landed in Warwick at night. Aside from that I had a layover in Detroit.

There isn’t much to tell so far since it’s late and I wasn’t able to see much on the cab ride over. The city looks pretty sleepy and the people I’ve met so far seem stoic. They don’t have the bubbly, over-the-top pseudo niceness that people in the Twin Cities have. I’m not sure which is better…maybe it’s a matter of adaptation. I don’t know. I’m anxious to get out tomorrow morning and explore the city.

May 29, 2009
I got up rather late today. I think I was jet lagged or something. Originally I planned to start out early, grab a bite to eat at The Creperie (off Thayer Street near Brown University) and then head to Jumah. However, since I couldn’t get up before 11:00 and since it was cloudy and rainy outside, I took the shuttle to the mall in order to get something to eat. I walked around for little while hoping to find a taxi stand. Eventually, I happened upon one. I had to peel the driver away from his group of friends (they were busy watching a woman who was passing by in skin tight jeans). I felt like I was back in Jamaica because I was all: “Yo, you wukking or wha?” (LOL).

Reluctantly, he bid his friends goodbye and we ventured on to what can only be called a death ride. Why was it a death ride, you ask? The taxi driver, like many Rhode Islanders, drove with wreckless abandon; running lights, nearly missing a car or two (cursing the other driver out in Spanish, lol), and speeding under wet road conditions. He couldn’t find the masjid and eventually gave up looking. I was thinking, What? You’re giving up? He pulled over and urged me to ask some young men that were in front of their house washing their car for directions. Again I was like, What? You want me to ask them? I felt a little shy to do so but since I really wanted to attend Jumah I knew I had to do it. Alhamdulillah, they were very nice. One of the guys had a GPS system and was able to provide us with directions. Wouldn’t you know the taxi driver still got lost?! He eventually called someone on his cell phone and asked her to give him directions. (I don’t know much Spanish but I understood ‘mi amour’ and ‘can you look this up for papi, please mami?’*wink*) Kiss the ground when I finally made it!

Jumah was cool. I wasn’t digging the separate men and women’s areas (esp. since the PA system kept going out) but I just said Alhamdulillah for being able to attend Jumah. The community in Providence seems very mixed. I saw Arabs, African-Americans, West Africans, Cape Verdeans and quite a few other ethnicities. No one ethnic group seemed to dominate. I didn’t speak to anyone. They pretty much scattered as soon as the salah was over. I just stood outside taking it all in.

Unlike the Twin Cities (and many other cities I’ve been to) there were no taxi drivers in attendance at Jumah. I usually see at least three when I go to Jumah. I was hoping to hitch a ride with one of those drivers. Fortunately, since I like to plan everything, even down to the smallest detail, I had written a few taxi numbers down in my notebook (just in case). I took a taxi back to the Providence Place Mall. Sidebar: Can I stop here to tell you I loved the Providence Place Mall? I found everything I needed and so much more. Stores like H&M had different merchandise from what we have at the Mall of America. I didn’t buy too much though- just a purse and two rings.

I walked around downtown Providence for hours. My feet were hurting so I thought it’d be a good idea to head back to the hotel and relax for a bit. However, once I was back in the room I looked outside and noticed it had stopped raining. Restlessness and curiosity took over instead of relaxation. I grabbed my camera and went across the street to India Point Park. I spent the better part of an hour there staring at the water, people watching and snapping pictures. I also conversed with a Muslim bro who was out in the park walking his dog. He told me about a Cape Verdean festival that is happening this summer. Insha’allah, I’d like to come back for it.

After that, I took the hotel shuttle to Brown University’s campus and found a place to eat. I love the area around Brown University. I kept walking up and down Thayer Street looking at all the little stores and doing more people watching. I probably looked like a real, live tourist. While I was wandering around aimlessly, I found The Creperie and insha’allah I’ll be returning for breakfast tomorrow.

A funny thing happened today: While I was walking down Thayer Street I ran into one of my friends from myspace. Since I’ve had this Rhode Island curiosity I started connecting with Rhode Island Muslims online and asking them about the community. It was weird to see a familiar face…my friend told me we should hang out some time before I leave. We’ll see…

Whew, what a day! My legs are burning from all the walking (these enormous Rhode Island hills!) and I know I’ll be doing it all over again, insha’allah, tomorrow. Time to start searching for seafood…

P.S. I love the Rhode Island accent and how so many people here keep calling me “hon.”

Part 2 tomorrow, insha’allah…