Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New job

I like my job.

I like my coworkers.

I like my boss.

I like the atmosphere.

I like the pay.

But it isn't enough... with some extreme stretching it might pay for school in the fall, but rent? Food? Books? Gas? Car? So a few weeks ago I applied for another job (part time.) My friend Kristi had been a lab operator for a few semesters and I asked her about it, and applied shortly thereafter. Today I had an interview, and more or less got the job--probably working in the wee hours of the morning and on weekends, maybe 12 hours a week. So, inshallah that will help me save up even more money for the fall semester, and have a hope and prayer for the spring as well. And it's a relatively easy job, so I can read or study on the computer, I guess, while I'm there. And when I'm not working I'll sleep. Sounds good, right? Mm-hmm.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Too much for a Tuesday?

Since moving in, I've been coming up a little bit short in the sleep department and getting up for fajr and work was extremely difficult. But since I have moved so close to the mosque, I would like to pray there more often. I had some errands to run before maghrib, including having dinner with the girl whose apartment I've moved into ('Susan') at a Korean restaurant near school. That was interesting... first time I had Korean food. But anyway...

I prayed maghrib, getting there a tiny bit on the late side but still before the first rukuh. I was quick to leave also, but when I got back to the apartment I noticed that my other roommate (let's call her 'Megan') was there, but I was on the phone when I walked in. When I finished talking, though, I knocked on her door and introduced myself... and was very happy to find out that I do live with a pleasant person and I think she and I will get along very well. Yay. She and 'Rachel' don't get along, however, and both want to move out when their leases are up (quite funny, actually) but neither knew the other was planning to move.

I also explained to Megan that I was Muslim, that I wear the scarf, and that I downloaded the automatic adhan, and told her how to turn the speakers off in case I ever left it on while out of the house. That went well, no real troubles there, but she told me about Rachel's boyfriend, which is another funny story. But I got to meet him last night, too, and his brother, and his brother's friend... yeah... in my apartment. So I guess I should just be careful and listen out for when I need to wear hijab if they come over a lot... and I'm told they do.

Around Isha time I drove back to the mosque, and made it in plenty of time for the prayer, but also to hear part of a lecture going on beforehand. Now, after the prayer this woman who I'll call Amatullah comes up to me, who I've talked to several times, and we listen to the end of the lecture a little while. She is... an interesting woman. She is a white American convert, married to a Palestinian (I think) brother, with 6 kids. I get the feeling she wants me to marry her oldest son, who is about a year younger than I am, which is a little strange for me... but anyway. We're sitting in the back behind the stupid curtain thing and she wants to give me a massage. I don't want to be rude or anything, so... yeah, and she wants me to lie down in front of her so she can do it. Have you ever gotten a massage in a musallah? Yes, it is strange...

And then she wants me to go by her house (I think she wanted to introduce me to oldest son, but he wasn't there, whew.) So I go over there, because she lives right beside the mosque, and meet some of her kids. And get this, she gives me a jilbab... it's a little tight (I'm kinda big anyway) but definitely better than what I had... nothing. And I always feel weird going to prayers in my jeans, because they are snug, and I just don't have that many options (can't wear the 1 skirt I own every day, or the same pairs of pants always) and right now funds aren't available for clothes, but more basic things. So anyway, that was really nice of her. And then she wanted to show me how to belly dance, so she taught me a few moves. And then she wanted me to drink this stuff she had for her son's asthma I guess that she made into a drink. Didn't taste that bad... and then she wanted to give me all these CD's. First she was trying to find one that I could practice bellydancing to (because she wants me to practice this now) but she didn't like some because of the 'instruments.' (She's pretty strict about that with herself, I guess, but lets her kids listen to it.) So she gets me the CD, and then like 6 more CD's of random stuff about Islam. And then around midnight!! I finally get out, with a list of bellydancing moves I'm supposed to practice, another glass of this funny drink, and a jilbab... oh and a scarf to match.

And then this morning when I showed up at the mosque for fajr (she told me she is the only woman who is ever there for fajr) I was a little bit late (trying to fix this) and the door was locked! The sisters door, that is... and I didn't want to go in the front door because I was so late anyway so I just went home. :-(

I'll wear it tonight to isha though, inshallah. So... anyway... I thought that was strange and definitely worth writing about!! :-)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Moving Out, Part IV (See below)

So, the drama... are you ready for this? First of all, I needed someone to help me move, and my sister Wendy had either volunteered, so someone told me she did. I called her one day last week (Friday probably) to ask if she could help, but her Durango is in the shop and her husband was working Sunday... so basically, that was a no. But my other sister Becky and her husband were willing to help, and I had otherwise to rely on my brother who drives a truck. This was all so I wouldn't have to rent a trailer, which was my original plan. But anyway... it rained on Sunday.

And my brother didn't get home until the evening. It rained basically all day but, alhamdulillah, had stopped mostly by the time we had to make the drive. As far as loading, we did it inside the garage, and covered everything with tarps. And alhamdulillah, it all fit somehow, in the bed of the truck, the back of the jeep (my sisters) and a very small trailer attached to it. But that was the plan in the afternoon... I had to move on Sunday, you see, because I had to work on Monday and my brother isn't in town that long anyway. And Sunday night because he didn't get in until 6pm.

But I went to pick up the keys and stuff you pick up when you move in on Sunday, and one of the current roommates (let's call her Rachel) had called me earlier. She told me that the girl who just moved out (let's call her Susan) had "trashed" the apartment, and the trash was all in her bedroom--the one I was moving in to. This is despite the fact that the leasing company called me the previous night to assure me that the apartment was clean--they had walked through it, etc. I told Rachel this, and she seemed very surprised. Then she admitted that the "trash" had been "all over" the apartment and she had moved it into the bedroom. She wanted the leasing company to come by, see the trash, clean it up, and keep Susan's deposit. So she wanted to call them and complain, and for me to call and complain. Whaa. I told her that the office opened at 1pm (it was Sunday) and I would be over there then to pick up my keys.

Rachel called while I was still waiting to get my keys, and voiced her little complaint. Funny thing was that the girl in the office had no clue it was the same apartment I was moving into. So I get the keys and go back to the apartment to see all this trash... which Rachel had moved into the bedroom. Yes, there was a lot of trash, and it might have been mostly Susan's... but what sort of person will hand pick up trash and put it on the floor of another room, instead of putting it in a bag?? (The sort of person that is my new roommate... lol!)

Susan had called me earlier to tell me she and Rachel hadn't gotten along, maybe had a fight, and she wasn't sure where Rachel got all this trash or why she put it in the bedroom. However, she was studying for an exam, and wouldn't be able to come clean up the room that day. But still I had to move. I was willing (and half expecting to) clean up the trash, but Rachel wanted to calling the leasing company again, to try desperately to get Susan's deposit withheld. They were not very helpful, so she continued to complain, and voiced her decision to move out... all while I was there. (Yes, I'm laughing, are you?) Her primary complaint was that her roommates don't subscribe to her "lifestyle."

So then she helped me clean up the trash a little, it took all of about 10 minutes, and we moved it out by the door. But she insisted that we not take it down to the dumpster so Susan would have to. Because, originally, that's where the trash was in the first place! Basically we moved it back where it was, and Susan was supposed to come pick it up and take it to the dumpster. I don't feel like fighting at the moment, so I just let it go. Grabbed the vaccuum and went to clean up some more, while she called her dad. I got to listen to part of that conversation too. She basically iterated her desire to move, and change to a different "company" to find an apartment. After cleaning the room to my satisfaction, I left--and left the garbage by the door, planning to take care of it later when Rachel wasn't around.

Now really--what kind of person deliberately picks up trash and puts it in a bedroom, all over the floor? Especially a bedroom where someone is moving in, and she knew I was moving in on Sunday anyway, so she can't use that as an excuse. Needless to say, I have a very poor opinion of this roommate and her manners, while laughing at her inability to succeed in 1) pissing me off, 2) getting the company to keep Susan's deposit, and 3) just in general getting things to work out "her way." Oh yes, and laughing still because she has decided to move out. Inshallah, she will, and I can simply stay put. LOL!

So with my brothers we packed up all my stuff between the truck, jeep and trailer, making a little use of my parents' buick which I drove, and my sister's focus, just for a few extra boxes and clothes and whatnot. Moving in didn't take too long, but my brother-in-law is a neat-nick, if you know what I mean. He could not stand the sight of trash bags sitting by the door like that and I wanted to explain to him the silly situation but Rachel was there (albeit in her room, definitely not helping, lol) but he took it down. I just want to let you all know I intended to take it down myself but he beat me to it. And we can laugh about what kind of person leaves 3 bags of trash in the doorway... haha.

I spent most of the night trying to put a few things away; basically I got my computer up (utmost importance!) and a few clothes, and my bathroom things put away. I also cleaned the bathroom that night, because it hadn't been cleaned (of this I was aware beforehand and had planned to clean it myself), and that took the most time. But now it's sparkly and wonderful and all is well. Last night I mostly did the dishes, washing what had been in storage for so long, and even some of my new items.

Another complaint of mine against this roommate is that she has left me practically no cabinet space. It is interesting because she has about twice as much space as the other roommate, who has about half as much more space as I do. I don't have less dishes than either of them, I just think that someone isn't making the best use of space. Going to try to work that out with them. However, nobody was home last night. And then I got dishes, realized I don't like that Food Lion so I might be going to the other one closer to the mosque which is a little further from the house but... hey, if the people are nicer (and they are, I've been there before).

So that brings me up almost to today... and with that I'm going to run out of here and try to have a nice evening inshallah.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Moving Out, Part III (See below)

I ended up signing the lease in a hurry, and that may or may not have been a good thing. Either, way, I have a place to live now, albeit with two very antisocial roommates. I started a new schedule at work, that is 40 hours a week being 4 9-hr days and 1 half-day, Friday, so inshallah I will have no trouble attending Jummah prayers.

Over that weekend we were supposed to have a 'family dinner' which was essentially a make-up Easter. Of course, my family just hates it when I wear hijab (unfortunately, I hate them for that. :-( ) so even though I want to wear it when my brother-in-laws come over, I don't. I can't say I really enjoyed the day anyway. And because everyone was there it was hard to get a few words in about my move. My parents flew to Las Vegas on Wednesday, and I had the house to myself basically to pack my things. That was slow going until the weekend; I had left boxes half-full because I needed to find some things that I wanted to pack 'together.' The entire week was exhausting, though. I was tired, trying to get used to being at work for 10 hours and having so much to do each night... and I didn't get very much done.

One night I went out with my sister and bought a few 'essentials.' Mostly cleaning supplies. On Friday I went to thrift shops looking for a few more things, and Saturday I went to some yard sales in my sister's neighborhood looking for more still. (I hate shopping, but at least at yard sales in the same neighborhood, you just walk around outside, and can get fresh air.) Saturday night she invited me to a 'Pampered Chef' party. Normally, I avoid these types of "parties" at all costs. Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc. They are marketing endeavours, normally for stay-at-home moms, where the woman (I guess it could be a man too but hardly ever is) will buy this stuff and eventually sign on to start selling it, and will have these parties to get people to buy. Sometimes at her house, and then has someone else host a party, and that person invites all her friends. They give away a few things, and of course if you "host" then you get a discount so people are encouraged to do that... and then you have women paying $45 for a baking dish.

But what could be more fun than listening to a bunch of women chatter about kitchen utensils? To start with, cleaning doggie poo out of my bathroom. For those of you men who read this... you have no idea how lucky you are to not have to ever go to these. Eat the chicken, and explain why it's the best most tender chicken you have ever tasted because it was cooked in a stone fluted bundt pan. It's weird. So why did I go?

Well, my sister invited me (it was her neighbor's party, who is the consultant person who sells, and at her house so she was cooking) and she told me that Maria would be there. I haven't actually met Maria, but she is a Muslim convert who used to live two doors down from my sister's house, who is married to a Muslim from Egypt. They moved out last year, long before I was ready to tell anyone, but I thought sure, I would like to meet her and talk to her about some of what I'm going through. But Maria didn't come. So I was stuck there oohing and aaahing about silicone spatulas.

But, in the end it worked out okay because my sister bought me a few things. A dish made especially for cooking in the microwave (laugh, if you will) and an adjustable measuring spoon, and she gave me her measuring cup.... which is neat (but of course, overpriced). But of course at these party things one trick to get people to buy is to give them free stuff, so they feel obligated to buy (neat psychology trick in action.) And the free thing that I "won" was these two entertaining bowls (that are square.. yeah, weird isn't it?) with a little handle/rack thing to carry them. But they're a good size for... ahem... salsa.

Sunday was the appointed moving day... because the girl who was moving out couldn't decide if she would be out on Friday or Saturday... even though my lease was clear I could move in on Saturday. (Not that I had any help that day.) So... I'll stop here, and save all the drama for 'Part IV'.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Moving Out, Part II (see below)

I was in a big hurry to get out of my parents' house by the time Friday arrived. I hadn't spoken to my mom all week, and only a few words to my dad. I don't know if I mentioned the fact that I had two exams coming up (Monday) and a paper due (also on Monday.) There is a point where stress becomes too much for me, and I just give up on something. My sorority had a dinner banquet on Thursday, and I had to install a treasurer and membership educator, and plan the trip to the international convention in Chicago. I've since decided not to go. At first, I thought it would cost about $250, but since only 7 people are going now (instead of 13 who were originally planning to) it will be free or mostly free for all of them. And I guess, if it were free, I could technically afford it. But I'll be working...

That's right, no vacation for me, not all summer. I might be off for 4th of July and Memorial Day, but other than that... You see, that is how tight my money will be. Financially, I was not in any way ready to move out, and that was part of why I panicked. I was planning to take a class this summer (one that I had given up on (failed) early on in this spring semester to concentrate on the others) and work part-time, about 25 hours a week. That would be enough to pay for school over the summer, and I thought the fall would be covered. Such is not the case. I'm now going to be working full time (thank God my boss has no problems with that.) and am currently not registered for classes.

My plan now, then, is to save up money to actually go to school again in the fall, but only part-time so I can still work. I really hate this. I never liked having to work and go to school at the same time, but it was nice that I didn't have to cover the expense of rent. But having to work nearly full-time while still taking a full load? I don't know about that. If I continue to do poorly in school, I really think my job may be in jeopardy. But God willing my supervisors will understand, and not be too upset that my graduation date keeps moving further away.

But anyway, I am pursuing an option for taking classes in the fall, which is to take humanities courses at a community college and only my engineering courses at the university. That's because going full time at NCSU is about $2400, for 12 hours. At a community college, it's about $40 per credit hour tuition plus about $15-25 total in fees. Going part-time at NCSU at 8 hours (2 4-hr engr classes) would be $1200, including fees. Goign part-time at tech school for 6 hours (2 3-hr humanities) would be $260. I can do that and still technically be a "full-time student" with 14 hours spending about $1000 less for school.

Now what to do with my free time? There are 168 hours in a week, and I'll be working 40 of them and sleeping 56, inshallah. So what to do with the rest of my time? I looked into taking a summer night class, but didn't see any available. The mosque was teaching Arabic classes on Sundays but stopped for the summer... isn't that ironic? But maybe I can learn a little bit on my own (practice hard) and find some Arabic speaker to help. A number of guys have offered to help, but... we'll see, I guess.

And of course, I have not exhausted the Islam section at the bookstore, lol! I will probably just devour books this summer, inshallah. And even if that gets boring I can read about other religions. There is so much I have wanted to read...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Moving out, Part I

I'm already tired, but I keep meaning to post this... on Monday, April 24th, my parents informed me that I was no longer welcome in their house. Not to live, anyway. If your life has ever been turned upside down, you might understand how I felt. I panicked, basically, and had to deal with a range of emotions that could have torn me apart. I was angry, and I was hurt. I lost my home, and it felt like I was losing my family too.

That was Monday--I had a good cry on Monday, talked to some very nice and supportive Muslims in chat (you know who you are) and moved on to Tuesday. Cried more on Tuesday, and then Wednesday I went to see my sister to ask about my parents. In short, that didn't go very well. I left thinking that I never wanted to see her again. It was a very emotional week...

By that night I was looking for apartments to move into--found one where the girl wanted to leave right away, even though her lease was through July. Thursday she sent me the application, and on Friday we went to the landlord's office and I signed the "sublease." I'm moving this upcoming Saturday. What was really nice about this is that my parents did offer to "cosign" on the lease so I didn't need a security deposit.

When I got home Friday night, my parents told me then that they felt bad at what they had put me through, and that they wanted to help me out, so they offered to pay my first month's rent. And I can add, that offer was graciously accepted!!