Blog Index
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.
Navigation
Saturday
Nov102018

I Own a Dog. And, also, God is Not A "Him".

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but totally is. 

When I told many of our Muslim friends and family that we were getting a dog, there were two things that happened. One, everybody recoiled in horror and said, WHY?

And the second thing that happened is that everyone assumed it was my idea. It was not my idea. I like dogs. However. I was opposed to getting a dog for several reasons.

But back to the first thing that happened -- what I will call for the purposes of this story, "Muslim Dog Recoil (MDR)."

MDR exists because Muslims consider the saliva of dogs unhygienic. In fact, if you have completed your ablutions (ritual washing before prayer) and a dog licks you, you have to go do your ablutions again before you can pray. Orthodoxy suggests that dogs may be kept for the purposes of work. That is, a guard dog, herding dog or hunting dog is fine. There are also a couple of credible hadith (this is a collection of sayings of the Prophet - peace be upon him -- that is regarded as an auxiliary to the Quran) that are pretty discouraging of the keeping of dogs in the home. As a result of this, most Muslims don't have dogs at all.

For better or worse, I am a person who is grounded in context and history. I believe in miracles, too, but I also am accepting and cognizant of the human components that inject themselves into our cosmology as they are practiced on a daily basis. This was a fancy way of saying, I believe that God is All Powerful and has revealed Themself as the shaper of human destiny through the miracle of sacred texts, but I also believe in the power of human beings to shape those narratives and affect practice in self serving ways. (Hey, spell check, I see you with your red squiggly under themself, but I'm going to reject your political agenda and go with it). I know many of my Muslim friends will shake their heads and pray for my soul when I say this, but history matters.

The way I see it, the miracle of the Quran is that not only was it revealed, but that it exists today. As inhabitants of the ever changing Earth and members of the human race, though, our greatest jihad (struggle) is to discern the validity of what was revealed in context to the lives we live today. I will not blindly accept the narratives of the past regarding piety. I will certainly give these narratives of the past the benefit of the doubt, but I will evaluate them critically. I believe the biggest problem facing all Believers today is the ability to accept that when we critically evaluate our sacred texts, that we are able to leave space for different answers that allow us to coexist peacefully. I believe it can be done, but we are definitely failing as a species on this level. 

Regardless of what you're talking about, religion or human rights, dominant narratives are shaped by the needs of the members of a community who are dominant. This doesn't make the narrative wrong, but it does subject it to scrutiny. I think a good example of this is assigning Allah the pronoun of "Him." Y'all. God is not a "He." Yet, when we talk about God, we constantly use He. Why? Because the he-s were in charge when these words were being both invented and then subsequently written down. 

The most orthodox among my Muslim brothers and sisters will recoil and say this is nonsense talk and is such a small thing -- and, anyway, they'll say, who cares -- it' s just a word? Much the way the politically conservative among Americans will recoil when you commit to honoring someone's relationship to their pronoun as a choice.

That's cool. Recoil away. I'm still going to call someone what they WANT to be called. And I will continue to avoid using Him when I talk about God. Words matter, especially to those who have been historically divested of agency and power. The fact is saying "Him" matters when you say "All praise is due to Him" or "He is All Knowing" if you, yourself, are NOT A HE. Intrinsically, a woman saying "Praise Him" - on a subconscious or conscious level - reaffirms a false narrative created by hims that all the hims in the world have a special connection with Allah. They reaffirm that women do not have this connection because they are not hims. I reject this idea that "him" connection is stronger than the "her" or "they" connection, and, ironically, so do many of the most conservative members of my religious community who are tsking at my words this very minute.

This was a long, wordy way of explaining to you why those closest to us in our Muslim circle assumed that getting a dog was my idea. Because I have this crazy idea of questioning the established practice in the context of modernity and history.

But I DID NOT want the dog, y'all.

Because? I am so allergic. SO ALLERGIC. I have not been able to breathe through my noise without pseudo ephedrine pumping through my veins since March.

I will tell you the story of how we ended up with our beautiful dog who I love so dearly and who does indeed stay inside our house (but away from the areas where we pray and sleep). For now, know that I was completely railroaded by an alliance between my husband and daughter that was so well crafted that I still don't know how this happened.

Anyway, this is our dog just after we brought her home. She's a wire-haired Viszla. She is, in fact, the sweetest and smartest dog in all of creation. Her name is Hestia. And I ...achooo.. love...sniffle, sniffle.. her.

She's waaaaay bigger now. I'll post more photos of her soon.

 

*Friends, this is a post that discusses religion and, to an extent, politics. Be advised that while I respect freedom of speech very much, I would never permit someone to sit in my living room and disrespectfully engage with my ideas. I will not tolerate it here either. If you can be mindful, write thoughtfully, and stay in your lane -- then, feel free to disagree. If you can't... go yell in your own living room (or your own blog).

Sunday
Nov042018

Anxiety and Handwork

I'm not sure when it happened, but in the past five or six years, I've found that I am unable to do one thing at a time effectively.

This is how I explain why I'm always on my smartphone. I need something to do with my hands. It's not all social media stuff either. If I'm watching TV for example, I have to play a game on the phone while I do it. I feel like this makes me focus better. It probably doesn't, but that's the way it feels.

The problem is the smartphone feels like it's relaxing my mind, but it's actually winding me up. Making me get more amped up instead of letting me slide into whatever experience is before me. I've been thinking about this a lot lately... about this need to do something concrete and real with my hands while engaging in some abstract type of activity (watching something, listening to something, etc). Why doesn't the smartphone suffice?

We want to move our hands because human beings have an instrinsic need to work. We live in a world, though, where few of the things we use are the things we have made. I think food might be the last thing that we both make and consume on a regular basis. From the clothes we wear to the sofas we sit on... our hands aren't part of the equation when it comes to fulfilling our needs.

I personally think there's a connection to be discovered between the collective level of anxiety members of the industrialized world feel and the alck of opportunity to make useful, concrete things with their hands. I have been plagued by anxiety of late. A lot of that has to do with the nation's Fascist in Chief (herein referred to as FIC) and his unwavering dedication to keeping the brown woman in her place. But even there... we have a connection. Producing work... concrete art... it requires problem solving. And it is also engagement in problems that you can actually solve. I cannot solve the problem of our FIC not having a freaking soul. But. I could sew some unique linen napkins that are stylish in a way not determined by Target or Pier One. Solving little problems makes me less anxious about solving big ones. Confident, even.

(Right now I have "How do you solve a problem like The Donald?" running in my head a la The Sound of Music which interestingly like our lives features Nazis).

All this to tell you that in the next week, while I will still be producing content HERE, I will be going on an iPhone fast. I will only use the phone for work and I will not work after 6. Instead I will: sew, paint or knit. 

You should know that I am novice level on all of those things. 

I will take pictures and post them for your amusement.

Friday
Nov022018

Hahaha... consistency.. not.a.thing.

I love how on the very first day of NaBloPO (I don't even know what the frickin' acronym is , okay?)... I totally dropped the ball and DID NOT blog on the first day of November. 

I am tired, y'all.

I have so many things to do.

Do you have a lot of things to do? 

What are these things? What are the consequences if you don't  do them? 

So curious to hear from you.

Wednesday
Oct312018

Ridiculous

I was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Both of my parents were immigrants.

I was born a U.S. citizen.

Apparently, the President of the United States thinks that is ridiculous.

I think about all the American citizens including my parents, sibling and my first cousins and I do a tally of our occupations: three doctors, three lawyers, three corporate executives, two teachers. We all work so hard. We all work in fields that are respected. 

Consciously or unconsciously, the children of immigrants are always doing this tally.  We're making sure that we earn our keep, you know? The thing I have realized in the past two years is that "earning your keep" in America is not only a lie, it's a white supremacist propaganda tool.

The truth is that the work/contribution narrative has served white Americans very well in comandeering people like me as agents of abuse against the immigrants who aren't doctors, lawyers or whatever.  Many Asian origin immigrants and their kids will go into these patterns of thinking that center on the model minority narrative, and we forget the broader ethical directive of: when people are in trouble, hungry or need a place to stay decent people open their doors.

No matter how hard we work, how smart we are, whether we save your life, teach your children, eat the same food as you, sing the same songs... there will always be people who will look at us and say, "You don't belong here." This is not because we don't work hard enough. This is not because we are criminals. It is not because we are lazy.

It is because they are racist xenophobes who want to "Make America White Again." They use resources as a straw man argument to cover their nativist agenda that is based on racial supremacy. In fact, this attempt to cover their racism and xenophobia is so efficacious that many of the 54% of the Republicans who support the revocation of birthright citizenship don't even know they are racist. They think we're shutting the door on the rapists and criminals.

What they don't see is criminality of ethics that are being used to shut the doors on people who are often desperate for safety, food or other resources which we have in abundance. 

I am no longer under the illusion that any of that 54% gives a shit about what I have to say. I want to talk to you. The person who knows what I am saying is true. Who is upset like I am about this conversation.

You need to make a very important decision right now.

You need to admit that our president is a fascist. You need to understand that the people who support him are wilfully supporting a personality that has been historically proven to be a catalyst for national pain and genocide. 

Our nation is not a facist state only because he is currently being reigned in by the precarious threads of the legislative body's and executive body's commitments to upholding the U. S. Constitution.

Now, I know this is going to have some of you thinking, "This is exactly why we should vote!"

Ummmmno, wtf liberal America, you should vote because it's your civic duty.

Votes in opposition to th Fascist in Chief's agenda will certainly strengthen the above mentioned threads that keep us from sinking into the pit of full fledged fascism, but it will not erase the deep seated racism, white supremacy and xenophobia which resides in every neighbordhood across this country. 

If you are among the population that this adminsitration identifies as protected (read: white), then your VOICE matters as much as your vote. You have to say something. YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING OR YOU ARE LETTING THIS HAPPEN. If you are saying something? 

Say.it.louder.

People will not forget that you were quiet.

Future generations will not forget. 

I will not forget. 

 

Tuesday
Oct302018

Halloween. Meh. I mean... YAY! :D

I think holidays bother me because they have to do with high expectations. While I strive to be hopeful in life, the darkest part of my nature tends to remind me that people who have high expectations suffer the most crushing manner of disappointment. I have to be intentional about wanting specific outcomes but also remain open to the idea that things will be alright (maybe even great!!) if they turn out differently than planned.

Holidays test me hard in that respect. 

Now that we've dispensed with my attempt at depth on much less sleep than is remotely adequate, let me tell you about the real reason Halloween sucks.

I have two children. Between school, friends and extracurriculars, we have had to put together six different costumes. Wednesday Addams, the Weird Girl from the Scream, 70s Flower Girl, Pele, Crazy Hippie, and some character from some television show I don't even know about.

I will not sit here and bitch about how this was not a thing when I was their age. But.

This was not a thing when I was their age. You dressed up and got candy. Thee were no theme parties. No, there was a theme. It was "AREN'T I CUTE, GIVE ME CANDY."

The younger one let me know last week that my Amazon cart was full of stuff he needed for his costumes.

Costumes.

PLURAL.

Let's stop a second for my peeps that were born in the seventies.

Can you all even imagine going to K Mart or Pic N Save (!) with your moms and your mom tells you to watch the cart while she goes and talks to your neighbor who she sees everyday. She's gone for, like, thirty minutes because Adam Walsh hasn't been kidnapped yet, and when she comes back and you have $150 worth of accessories for your Halloween costumes (PLURAL) in the cart. At this point, she can't even find the "I Can't Beleive It's Not Butter!" anymore so she can't see the recipe on the side  and now cannot buy what she needs to make whatever cancerous treat she's going to send to school with you tomorrow. 

Then you say, "Mama, would you buy me that stuff when you get a chance?"

I don't want to divulge too much about my family secrets, but I will tell you that if I had done that our story would likely have made into the first season of Snapped.

I just told the boy that I would give him $25 and he could buy eighty two costumes for all I cared. 

The older one was chill about the ruling because she never spends money and probably because she has a small fortune that would rival a LDC in her sock drawer. The younger one was... upset... because he does things like send Andrew Jacksons to his friends so they can buy the same video games (apps?) he has on his iPad. 

I feel like in those moments when this boy is upset, I just have to remind him (and myself) that holidays aren't about having the perfect costumes (or decorations). Holidays are about that opportunity to fall deeply into creating an important shared history with our friends, family and communities.  I get why my son is upset. I do. But I have to be strong for him because shared values between children and their parents require a commitment to consistency and thoughtful intention. He'll be okay.

(Okay. I have to disclose something. I actually don't get why he's upset. Just put your grandparent money in your sock drawer, son, and you won't have these issues).