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Wednesday
Nov052014

Compulsory "Here's Why I Left, And Now I'm Back."

It's difficult to do something without a definite purpose. At least, for me it's difficult. 

I have no idea why I still want to type words into this space. I want someone to read them, but not lots of someones. It's been two years since I wrote in the space where lots of someone's read what I was reading. 

I'm a fan of being vulnerable, but not when I don't know why I'm doing it. From the very start, all I wanted this space to be was a place where you could find some love when you expected to find passionate stands and moral certainty. I surprise people every day with my flexibility. There are walls that tell them that I am otherwise. That I'm tough. When, really, to be misunderstood as condescending, rude or rigid is one of the few things that will actually make me cry. I think, "It's okay if you don't like me, but you have to NOT like me for the RIGHT reasons!! I am not stuck up! I don't think I'm better than you! I have a thousand real flaws and you should pick one of THOSE as your deal breaker!"

A few years ago, a few people on the Internet said some things about me. People who didn't know me or what I was about and it impacted me far more than I thought. It's not being disliked that's eviscerating to my will to write. It's being misunderstood and being judged on qualities which I do not possess. But the waslking away has left me empty. It is not just here that I've stopped writing. It's everywhere. Other than an e-mail updating a friend or a facebook comment, I no longer write.

And this is not okay because writing is part of who I am. It's time to let go of that small moment where I was misunderstood. For someone who doesn't hold grudges, it's unsightly -- dare I say pitiable -- to hold on this long. I don't know who's still here, but thanks. And I'm sorry. I shouldn't have walked away for so long. You mattered to me and I didn't even tell you why because I felt like it was a silly reason. People said mean things! They called me a racist! They said I was condescending! Rude! WAH!

But that's it. And, now, it's not it. And I'm back because I can't really not write here. It's too much of who I am and it's felt very wrong to pretend it's not.

Saturday
Aug022014

Can't (or Won't) Imagine 

There is a phrase... "I can't imagine..."

You might say this to someone when there is a pain in them that appears to be unbearable... a situation that seems far removed from your sanitized reality, yet one that demands the salve of human acknowledgment and empathy.

I've had a recent revelation. This phrase, "I can't imagine" is a lie. Stop saying it if you're trying to empathize. 

You can imagine. You can imagine anything at anytime.

The truth is, that you WON'T imagine.

Not "can't." Can't implies lack of ability.

"Won't" as in "Will not". The word "will" is strong. It is the reflection of our intention and the promise of its realization in the near future. 

"I won't imagine that what is happening to you will ever happen to me." 

"I won't imagine who I would become if the things I fear most became a stark reality instead of a boogeyman." 

"I won't imagine that you worry about whether your children will be alive tomorrow morning."

"I won't imagine that you are afraid in a way I have never been and that your choices and words  are affected by that."

"I won't imagine that the threat of annihilation is so real for your people that you have lost sight of the fact that you cannot war on the collective without bathing in the blood of the innocent."

"I won't imagine the ways in which you are wrong while also acknowledging that I would be wrong in all the same ways if I were you."

Have ability. Will not use it. No, I won't imagine.

I won't imagine because then I'll have to confront the human cost of politicizing, pontificating, and propagandizing.

I don't like this word "conflict" to describe the events in Israel-Gaza. The word conflict shrouds us in the cloak of "can't" imagine."

What if you did imagine, though?

What if we used words besides "terrorist," "resolutions," "threat," "annihilation," "human shield," "disproportionate" and a plethora of other words that take what is very real and human and transform it into an object lesson? About post colonialism. Imperialism. Zionism. Islamism. Pick your poison-ism.

Would you go to the place beyond these words? The place where you truly felt what it is like to send your only sons to war? Or to let you little daughter stay up late and eat chocolate because that might be her last piece on the last night of her life?

I'm confident that most of you knew how you felt about this issue the moment you read the first bit of information.

I did. But, this was enough to make me careful in my expression because it meant I was thinking from the place that "can't imagine."

I have spent a month imagining how the side with whom I'm sympathetic feels and thinks AND, even more importantly, how the other side feels and thinks. I have decided that my opinion is less important than my task which is to be the voice that reminds you that we are humans talking about other humans.

Humans talking about other humans.

Humans with sons, and little girls, and mothers, and favorite TV shows and, please, for the love of all things remember that every time you write or say Israeli, Jew, Palestinian or Arab that you are talking about HUMANS.

Even the ones that we think are wrong are humans just like you. Please don't inhabit the world of "can't imagine" where you fool yourself into thinking you'd do things differently. You probably wouldn't. Because you are a human, too.

We must do this - remember that at the core we are all humans. We must do this or we will perish. Maybe not perish in the physical sense, but in the most terrible way that humanity can perish.

The following video is a little over eight minutes long. I have read hundreds of articles and seen enough videos in the past thirty days. I haven't shared a single one. This is the one that I have decided to share.

Take a deep breath and remember we are all humans. Watch it.

Spend at least the time it took to watch it while letting yourself imagine before you share it on Facebook or somewhere else.

Israeli and Palestinian Mother Debate Gaza Conflict -

http://bcove.me/n49vwiss 

 

 

(sorry, if you can't see video,  you'll have to copy/paste the link -- my blog is being silly and since it is not human I'm not going to negotiate further with it.).

 

Tuesday
Jun032014

School's Out (for the Children)

It’s a fascinating thing to experience a child as a student and not as a person you have to raise. 

As a mom, I fall into the routine of treating my own children in one of three ways:

(1) like they are the most brilliant humans on the planet

(2) like Smeagol treats his precious (as in, "we forgot the taste of bread... the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name. My Preciousssses"

(3) like they’re trying to kill me

Being a child’s teacher, though, is different. It opens you up to a rich world where children are actual humans to be experienced in a multitude of contexts. Teachers see children for all the things they can be outside of belonging to an adult. There are the parts of them that their parents and their families have fashioned. There are idiosyncrasies they pick up from their favorite shows and games. Best of all, there are the parts of them that are just them.

You know that, right?

That there are parts of your child that you or society have nothing to do with?

That manifested from deep within them in a manner that they and only they chose to express?

I get to see that every single day. What we as adults have given them is beautiful, but what they do with that and produce on their own is truly magnificent. It was a good school year, and I hope the children have a blast this summer. As for myself, I'll be in Connecticut in a week playing student instead of teacher.  

 

Glue gun + Mardi Gras beads + Cardboard = South America.You want to teach them about polygons. They want to practice "concentric."

These children are some of the coolest people I know.

 

Monday
Jun022014

The Boy Chases Monsters

Nuha’s friend’s mom texted me and asked  if Nuha could see Maleficient with them this past Saturday. I didn’t respond right away. I wasn’t worried about the appropriateness of the movie. It was because of Yusuf. He couldn’t go. First, because Maleficient is too scary. Second? Because sending someone to the movies with Yusuf would be the equivalent of placing a severed horse head in their bed in the middle of the night. 

I end up saying yes to the movie, so I soften the blow on Saturday morning by making an impromptu announcement that I will be taking Yusuf to Mud Island Park. It’s a scale model thing of the Mississippi River that the Army Corps of Engineers built in some year I can’t remember. Once we get there, we decide to walk from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. I think that’s about a mile. Maybe two? 

This will be the most I have moved in several days. I’m battling things. Health things. My joints are messed up. My muscles are all spasming and being uncooperative in every way. The doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with me. When I get home from work, it’s all I can do to help Tariq feed, bathe and put the children to bed. 

You have no idea how hard that last sentence was for me to type out. You might not have even noticed the part that was hard for me. 

I … help Tariq with the kids…” This feels wrong to me. He should help me with the kids. As in, I’m supposed to be in charge of taking care of the kids. That’s my job. Not because I'm a woman, but because I am Faiqa. But. I just can’t be in charge of it right now, and I’m ashamed of this. I don’t know why my body isn’t cooperating, the doctor doesn’t know why, my family doesn’t know why and I have been angry, sad and lonely because of it.

In fact, when I announced the Mud Island excursion, Tariq cocked his head to the left and telepathically sent a message, “Are you sure?” 

I think I said, “His sister got to go to a movie! He should get to go to Mud Island.” Which was weird because he didn’t actually ask the question and it made me look like I was talking to myself.

Once we’re there, though, we have fun! We make boats out of leaves, and every fifteen minutes or so, Yusuf places his leaf in a miniature lake. “Time to get another one,” he tells me, “that one is done.” As he walks away from the old leaf, he calls over his shoulder, “Thanks, Leaf, for letting us use you as a boat.” 

I mean…WHAAAT? I didn’t teach him that. Whoever taught him that is a beautiful person. Maybe nobody taught him that. Maybe that’s who we all really are when we’re allowed to be who we are. 

We’ve made it as far as the border of Louisiana on this scale model thing and a downpour of rain surprises us. We run to one of the many shade trees that line mini-Old Man River, and wait out the squall.  The tree mists us and I look at my sweet boy. I realize that I’m really looking at him, right now. Not as a job, not as something that I haven’t been very good at, but as a human. What I see and feel in that moment is indescribable. It is joy, hope, love, longing… all of those things that I’ve been trying to feel for a while, but I just couldn’t quite touch.

The storm is a short one, but it’s not the last rain of the day. We concede a bit past northern Louisiana. Not bad, we almost made it. On the way out, he says in a serious voice, “I had fun, Mama. Thank you.” I’m struck again by this child’s casual relationship with gratitude. I should be more like this boy who thanks leaves for being boats and Mama for taking him out. 

On the way out of the park, I hold up my phone and we take a selfie shot together. The rain has washed away my make up and frizzed my hair, and I look a hot mess in every photo. I look at them, though, and I have a revelation. I will always be beautiful to this boy the way my mother will always be beautiful to me.

There's also a good chance that, despite the fact that I don’t feel like I’m measuring up, he will count himself lucky to be loved by me. Maybe every flaw of ours is forgiven by the ones who truly love us when we decide to try being a good person. In this moment, I forgive myself for needing help, and, also, for being mad at myself about that in the first place.  

Even now, I don’t know why those words, “I had fun” inspired me to shake off the fog. Stated so simply, with such seriousness, they seem benign, but, it's unmistakably true, I was changed. My son changed my mind about me on that rainy Saturday afternoon. Deep in the pit of who I am, I know that everything is going to be fine now.

Several months ago, I started singing “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to Yusuf at his bedtime. There’s this one line, “The monster’s gone / He’s on the run / And your Daddy’s here…” John Lennon was a genius for many reasons, and one of them is that he wrote that perfect lullaby for his son. Funny thing about John Lennon, though, he may have chased his son’s monsters away, but I think my son chases mine.

Sunday
May252014

If We're Not Friends of Facebook, You're Totally Missing Out...

If you are not friends with me on Facebook, you will miss out on my lack of humility and ability to weave post colonial rhetoric into any conversation:

 

 

You will also miss out on some harmless Jewish condoned anti-semitism, anti-Canadian rhetoric and for good measure, a dose of self deprecating Islamaphobia.

 

And the wrap up...

 

 

Friend me if you haven't already. 

(I dedicate this post to Dave2 for allowing me to hijack his FB wall post in the spirit of entertaining myself.)