A blog post about nothing and yet everything!

It’s been a busy week. I went to Atlanta for the first time last Thursday for The American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (didn’t have time to pretend to be Scarlett O’Hara as Savannah is a 4 hour drive, but I did pass the Margaret Mitchell house two times! Notwithstanding Mitchell, the film adaptation was a running theme of my childhood due to my older sister’s obsession in the late 90s. SHE WAS OBSESSED, I tell you), I dressed up as a cow on Halloween (just for work; I’ve never been trick-or-treating or have been involved in that process. Since I wasn’t allowed to go as a child, I never wanted to pass out candy later to those spoiled little kids that did. Also, strangers ringing the doorbell is scary), I launched the first issue of the Journal on Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society that I’ve been working on since August, and the two-day Board meeting where I was scheduled to present (I ended up not saying much) concluded yesterday afternoon.

(BTW, I’m sorry for all the parenthetical notes in the above paragraph and I guess for this one too. I have these little tangents always running in my head and since I have no intention of making my blog post as long as a thesis, I must defer to parenthetical notes. I don’t think WordPress allows the use of footnotes, unfortunately. Thanks for reading my tangents. It means a lot. I find my tangents to be the best part of my blog)

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I have to admit: the udders hanging out like that kinda felt haraaaaam, but hey, I’m fully covered! And if that turns you on, that’s on you, buddy!

And yet, here I am blogging on a Saturday morning, wearing my cow costume/night-suit because a) I can’t sleep after the rooster cockle-doodle-doos (i.e. the alarm for fajr) and b) I need a break from work-type things.

Oh but hey, the countdown to my 31st birthday has officially begun today. Each year, I start counting down 3 months before. Some might say that I’m too old for this, but I say, “Birthdays are fun!” I love when I actually have a valid reason to eat cake (I get it, the food police need to die, but I eat way too much cake for my own good). Also, everyone’s usually much nicer to me, wishing me that I have an amazing day and telling me to eat lots of cake. So, it’s just great!

Honestly, people who think they’re “too old” for birthdays are just being pretentious and illogical. You’re not too old. You’re perfectly the right age as long as you are ALIVE. Birthdays don’t stop after 21! If you’re gonna use that argument, find a better word or phrase! {end angry rant against imaginary people}

Also, I don’t fear getting old. I look forward to it. Of course, I’m at the age where the body is not quite at the point where it really begins the inevitable process of deterioration (I can, however, start to blame my metabolism – and I will). I may feel differently when I’m 40 or 50. But I honestly hope that I can accept whatever changes come with age. I just look at old people and I’m in awe. Not only are y’all way cuter than the rest of us, you’re also so wise and funny and you finally have earned the right to say whatever the heck you want (well, maybe not everything) and we love it. I love it, anyway.

Where was I?

I don’t know. I’ve been up for a while and have yet to eat. BREAKFAST TIME. Catch y’all later.

Guess Who’s Back? I dunno. I was listening to Eminem yesterday (while working out, don’t judge!) and it seemed fitting.

So, since I can’t go back to sleep after fajr (early morning prayer) and it’s technically not a work day (though I did work yesterday, on a Saturday, yes!), I figured it’s high time to actually blog. I could continue to re-post content, but I met a nice young lady the other day at a party who asked about my writing and I thought: “Oh yeah, I write, don’t I?”

So, here I am… writing… something.

I have written since my last post. And no, I’m not talking about writing emails. I’ve actually written a paper and a book review, and even a blog post. But they’re not exactly for a general audience, so I’ve been reluctant to share it freely with others. Also, the latter two are drafts waiting for review.

That reminds me. Another reason why I’ve not blogged here in a while is because I got a(nother) job. I haven’t even Netflix-ed in what seems like weeks, because I literally feel like I’ve been working all day! I’ve pretty much work been working through breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully, the working through dinner thing will end soon. And then, maybe, I’ll blog more frequently.

But who knows.

My end of the blogosphere has seemed to die… or taken a nap (I really gotta stop with the histrionics. I’ll never be a Broadway actress. Rafia, give it up). I bet all my blogger friends also have a life and stuff. But like, when all your emails are newsletters you signed up for and random solicitations, your zest for blogging just dissipates. Not getting an email notification for the blogs I follow makes me forget that I too used to blog at one point.

Another reason – and this is not at all a valid one –  one of my many quirks is that whenever I go on a hiatus (whether intended or not), when I do eventually come back, I feel this compulsive need to hit restart. If I’m feeling particularly drastic, that means a new blog with a new title. If I’m lazy and cautious, a new layout. I’ve been feeling frustrated with these free WordPress themes for a while now. I don’t think it’s smart at this point (or ever!) to switch to a paid platform (I’m sorry, but 115 followers on FB does not merit becoming a full-time blogger. And also, I will die (sorry!) quit blogging before I willingly puts ads on my site). I thought I’d get some web developer to design a custom theme for me. He quoted me at over 600 bucks. That is when I politely said “Quda Hafiz.”

So, I was back to square one, but with an even more persistent desire for change. After playing with a few themes (again), I decided to change the font on this one this morning… and saw that it could work. I am neither as talented nor creative as my sister. So, I quickly made this header and decided, “let’s just do it.” A lack of sleep and the need to extricate oneself of a compulsion can do this to a person. I know everyone loved the previous layout because of that beautiful header. If I could somehow keep the header and change the theme, I would. BUT WORDPRESS, OKAY?????

As I said, this is one of my (many) inexplicable quirks. And if you’re reading my words, you have to accept whatever oddities come with.

So, I guess I’m back.

I wish I were born just 10 years earlier!

If you haven’t already surmised, I hate being a “millennial.” I think it’s an unfair lumping that I had absolutely no choice over. The rest of my siblings are not part of this Generation Y, so why am I? Really, mom and dad! REALLY?

I mean, because my best friend for pretty much all thirty years of my life is 13 years older than me (i.e. my sis), it’s natural that I would act, know about, and be interested in things that people of my generation just don’t have the institutional memory of. Their parents are, like, my sister’s age! Kidding, Baajoonoos! You are ageless <3

But it’s not just my musical interests and insane knowledge of ’80s and early ’90s pop-culture that reinforces my oddity compared to people my age, it’s also the social media culture in which we live. I feel that if you were born in the ’70s or earlier (perhaps even early ’80s), you can claim ignorance and still function and be acknowledged as a normal human being. I was discussing this with a friend of mine a few weeks ago – she’s older and also not on social media – and she reinforced what I already guessed to be true: that my generation really can’t get around social media without being considered a pariah. It’s not just socially either; it affects your professional life, as well! I may be a bit odd, but I still gots to eat like everyone else!

I’ve been a pariah for a good chunk of my adolescence and early adulthood. I only rejoined Facebook after 5 years of being off it because I handle my work’s social media accounts. It’s not my work’s fault that I am privy to these online arguments between public figures I “follow” or have the privilege of reading comments essentially stating that not liking something that has a million hits somehow makes you a bigot. Does no one have an appreciation for decency or aesthetics anymore?

Social media is like a gateway drug. Okay, that’s harsh. It’s more like sugar. Once you get it, you can’t stop (me, anyway – I don’t understand you “savoury” people). And I literally have to pause to stop myself from making some banal “status update” that no one cares about… because I am not a public figure or even close to it.

I am aware that in this day and age, one only need make a controversial comment or decision and then BAM, you’re as famous as Emeril (or as famous as he used to be).

Still, I hold on to the foolish belief that if I ever become famous it’s because I achieved world peace.

P.S. My blog is my status update.

When I say I blog for myself, this is what I mean

When you feel like your dreams are coming true and you’re not able to brag about it, it’s actually a good place to be in. Because then you can find out for real what your true intentions and motivations are.

I am on the precipice right now.

I want to scream and shout from the rooftops.

But I won’t.

I can’t.

Also, a part of me does not want to.

Facebook is a sobering filter. And yet, it is also a trap that many very easily get lulled into. I am not immune from this pull.

And that is precisely why I blog. Blogging provides a happy medium for me. I can get things off my chest/make an announcement/provide much needed relief for my journaling hands, but in an unobtrusive way.

P.S. This blog entry has been brought to you by insomnia. Sometimes you just need to write (mostly) unedited.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

I am lovingly drinking my morning tea as I type this post… because I finally can! (ETA: I was when I first started writing this post, anyway)

I haven’t been able to do this for a month (well… there was a week in between where I did, but that’s a minor detail we don’t need to get into now).

Yesterday, was the first day of Eid-al-Fitr, one of two major Muslim holidays; this one commemorating the end of the month of fasting in Ramadan. Eid is technically a three-day holiday, but since Muslims living in the West typically don’t take three days off, we fit in three days’ worth of eating into one! What a way to celebrate a month of fasting, eh? ;)

As much as eating is a reality, Eid is also a time where everyone from the community comes together for a special prayer. After prayer, as part of the Prophetic Tradition, there is always a speech, or khutbah, that usually ties up the month together. Yesterday’s was probably one of the best Eid khutbahs I have heard in my life. I haven’t felt chills like that since my time at UChicago. It was delivered by Hazem Bata, who’s a pretty awesome dude in his own right. As socially relevant as the speech was, it also touched on Islamic history and lessons, as well. Perfecto! That’s the kind of khutbah that speaks to my soul. But what really struck a chord with me was its very timely personal resonance: that some times things don’t work out as planned, but, as is a common Islamic teaching, God is the best of planners. Using the examples of Salman Al-Farisi and Muhammad Ali (yes, the boxer) to illustrate this beautiful lesson, I was reminded that I was a recipient of the Ramadan Miracle I was hoping and praying for – just not in the way I had originally envisioned it.

Yet again I was reminded that setbacks can be openings to beautiful things. Of course, my struggles pale in comparison to the struggles of these two men. But the stories of those who came before us are meant to serve as examples for us living now, regardless of the age or time we live in.

For the past two years especially, I’ve been racking my head trying to make sense of the apparently ill-thought decisions I have made. I do not and have never regretted these particular decisions, but I couldn’t help but feel they weren’t in line with the societal expectations of what I ought to do to live a successful life. I mean, who in their right mind gets a Master’s in Religious Studies and decides to not (immediately ;) continue with a PhD? (FYI: Thoughts of a PhD will never truly die).

I pined and hoped that things would somehow all come together. And though I am still young and hope to have many years ahead of me, this past week I have begun to see my own opening from the many setbacks I’ve experienced this past year. Thinking of Salman Al-Farisi’s and Muhammad Ali’s legacy gives me hope that the best is yet to come, God willing. It’s not foolish to think this way, I might add. It’s a part of having faith. Being a believer means knowing that God is Good and wants good for us all.

P.S. WRT to my title, I am pleased to share this quote is not originally from the ’90s one-hit wonder band, Semisonic, but the Roman philosopher, Seneca. How apropos however that “Closing Time,” the song that features this quote was played on the radio yesterday! OMG! OMG! OMG!