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Aww. Poor Wittle Fedewal Wobbyists.

During a briefing today at the Presidential Transition Team headquarters, Obama Transition Co-Chair John Podesta announced the strictest, and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history. The rules are:

  • Federal Lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

  • Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

  • If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

  • If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the Transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the Administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

  • A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

You can read more about the transition of the superest duperest President-elect ever at

Special thanks to my friend Rahul the socially liberal, Ron Paul supporting, conservative who alerted me to this site.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

I’m completely unfocused, terribly distracted and the complete opposite of a one track mind.  This is why I will always live and die by “the planner.”  It’s as simple as this: if  I do not write it down, it will not happen.

I plan so that I can control the way my day plays out.  First, I make a list of things I have to do.  Then, I fill in the time slots on my iCal.  I print out a hard copy if I'll be home most of the day, or carry around my iPhone if I'll be out.  Minute by minute, task by task my day unfolds.  As each scheduled item is accomplished, I either cross it out in pen with a flourish of satisfaction or scroll down to see what's next.

Only the day never quite unfolds exactly how I want.  So, I'm sure to reschedule items as the need comes up.

Did I mention that I’m a stay at home wife and mother?  That I'm not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company?  My planned out day consists of when I’ll wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean out a closet, pay some bills, play with my daughter, and all of the other stuff that stay at home moms do.

I get made fun of quite a bit for keeping such meticulous records of my day.  But, people, you don't understand, I have to do this.  If I don't, I’ll wander through the day with only half of what I was supposed to do actually getting accomplished.  I’ll sink into bed at night thinking that this day meant nothing, and that I did nothing all day long.  I'll snap at my husband when he, with every good intention in his heart, asks, "So, what did you do today?"

Because when it's all said and done, I don't get to deposit a paycheck in the bank that tells me that I performed satisfactorily.  I need the people around me to know that I did something today.  I need myself to believe that I did something today.

Most days, I check off every single thing I have planned.  I should feel like a million bucks, right?  I mean, I did do everything I set out to do.

But the truth is, I don't feel like a million bucks.  At all.

It dawns on me that the planner is never going to resolve that aching feeling that I’m not accomplishing everything I set out to do.  Not today, and not in my life.  I look at my planner and I wonder how anything I’ve written has anything to do with who I want to be.  Of course, any and all time spent with my child and husband is excluded from that last sentiment.

But the dishes, the laundry, the dinner, the bills, the mopping... this is not who I am.

It is not who I want to be.  For all the control the planner affords, it’s not helping me control this feeling, at all.

A Fun Fact About Faiqa

From pre-K until the 5th grade, I went to a very strict Baptist school.

I always forget to ask my parents what the heck they were thinking enrolling their child there.  I suppose they figured that Islam can be puritanical and so can Baptists, so common ground might exist?  Knowing them, though, it was probably because it was the closest private school to their office.

Anyway, as a result of studying in that school, I'm very familiar with the Bible.  My favorite chapter is the book of Psalms, in case you're wondering.  In the long run, I think attending the school affected me quite positively.  Plus, when I got to public school, I was waaaaay ahead of everyone else in reading.  I'm pretty sure reading and memorizing the King James Bible as a five year old is the reason.

I was also extremely shocked to learn when I transferred to public school that not everyone referred to the period of human history predating 100 A.D.* as "back in bible times."

*Yeah, I know, the "PC" term is C.E., feel free to blame the lack of usage on my "Baptist upbringing".

Madagascar 2: First Trip to the Movies

Last Saturday, I took N. to her very first movie in a theater, Madagascar II.

We had a great time. O.K., the truth is she was completely freaked out the whole time.  I never realized how loud a movie theater was until now.  She kept asking me, "Why is it so loud in here?"

My suspicions have been confirmed.  My daughter is a seventy year old woman trapped in a three year old's body.

This is what she did during the entire movie.  I'm not exaggerating, and, yes, I brought a camera to the movie theater.

I'm no Dawg or Slyde when it comes to writing movie reviews, but in case you're wondering, I thought the movie was pretty good.  It was a little over the top in terms of violence, though.  I know most people categorize violence as someone shooting someone else and blood gushing all over the place, but I'm a little conservative (WHAT??!) when it comes to defining violent behavior.

Remember the old lady that beats Alex the Lion up with her purse in the first one?  Well, she's in this one, too.  And the animals hit her back.  Over and over again.  I thought it was funny, but my daughter, who has been taught that under no circumstances is she to hit anyone ever, was horrified.  She actually asked me why they were hitting each other, and I was like, "Well, honey, it's called suspension of disbelief and even though it seems real, it's not.  And that's why it's funny, understand?"

No, I didn't really say that.

See why I don't review movies?

A Public Affair

Growing up, there were very few Muslim families in our town.  Muslims have two major holidays that they celebrate: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Eids, though we always celebrated them, were an essentially private affair when I was growing up.  We celebrated by performing the Eid prayer as a community, eating food, getting money from our parents, going to the houses of our few Muslim friends and getting money from their parents, eating more food, taking off school as long as we didn't have a test, and then, finally, eating even more food.  Come to think of it, I never really knew Eid in the sense of being a highly public or a "community affair" until I was about twenty, when the Muslim community in our area had grown significantly

In the public sense, though, I have always "celebrated" Christmas (my willingness to do so or not being pretty much irrelevant).

We didn't have a Christmas tree or presents in my home, but outside of our home, we did celebrate.  Trips to the mall, local businesses, our friend's houses, our own neighborhood and our schools offered us the richness of another religion's culture and practice through decorations, class projects, music, specialty foods and general holiday spirit.  Somewhere in there, we may have even learned a little bit about how Jesus came into this world.

I think, for the most part, American Muslims are better for having been exposed to Christmas, and for viewing its public celebration.  I probably feel this way because I'm not one of those people that thinks you can be a better Muslim/Christian/Jew/Hindu/Etc. by acting like other religions don't exist.  In the end, that just leads to unhealthy isolation, fear and hatred.

Obviously, though, there were no Eid decorations in downtown nor in our local mall.  Truth be told, neither my parents nor I minded much or even thought twice about that.  After all, the way my family saw it when I was growing up, Eid was not an American holiday.  I don't feel that way now, but when I was growing up, "diversity" and "inclusion" weren't as fashionable as they are today.

Imagine my surprise, then, when on a visit to my hometown on Saturday night, I pulled into the parking lot of a grocery store and saw this painted on one of the windows:

"Eid al-Adha: Grocery Store Window.  Taken with my iPhone.  Photography, not one of my strong points.

Nestled between Christmas, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah panels sits this one, proclaiming,  "Happy Eid Al Adha".

I'm astounded by how much the world had changed since I was a child in this country.  I realize in places like New York and Chicago, Eid has to a degree been incorporated into public celebration, but I didn't grow up in those places.  I grew up in a sandy beach town where the most diversity you could find was once a year at an annual Greek Orthodox festival.  By the way, I can positively attribute my fanatical love for a good gyros to those events.

I know we have a long way to go as a nation in terms of inclusion, but, really, so what?  That doesn't make where we are right now any less important or amazing.

I'm excited for my daughter's America, the one that will allow her to be a Muslim without the need for conscious compartmentalization. I'm overjoyed that there are, at the very least, some people in this country who've realized they don't have to be afraid of us.  (This had become a serious problem after 9/11, though I never really encountered it when I was growing up).

Most importantly, though, I'm plain ecstatic to find that there are increasingly more people in this nation who see the differences between Americans as a source of pride and a thing of beauty instead of a source of chaos and dissonance.

I'm confident that more will follow suit.