Friday, June 16, 2006

Hello World

I wonder if anyone actually reads my blog these days... that's what happens when you don't update for a month... oh well.

Some things have bothered me or interested me lately, and some of those I'll keep to myself (mostly the complaints). But some things are encouraging...

I work with a few Muslim brothers, in this building, and you can never tell how dedicated one is. But when I started wearing the scarf, declaring to the world my faith anyway, it got a little bit of attention. Now there is a brother here, who has talked to me a couple of times about Islam theologically, and has invited me to have dinner with his family. He has two twin daughters, neither of whom, nor his wife, wear hijab. They like Islam, he says, they just don't wear the scarf. He wants to introduce me I suppose as an example, somebody a little bit older than they who thought Islam was something special--special enough to seek it out and change, disregarding society in that way. And to don the scarf, ignoring remarks and cultural norms, to dedicate myself to religion in a way that is kind of rare to see, especially not being born into it. So I may be meeting with them sometime in the near future, inshallah. He's told me that he wrote a few articles for Arabic newspapers about Islam. Right now he's just taken the PE (professional engineering) exam, which is pretty important in the engineering field. He told me though that if he passes he might go to graduate school for engineering... maybe... or Islamic studies. :-)

Second thing... we had a bad thunderstorm here a few days ago. Before it started, I'd gone to the masjid to pray maghrib. And it started raining just as I got there, and so of course we prayed isha in jama'at as well. Then I met a sister--Amira--who sort of unofficially invited me to some party or something in September (I can't keep up with these things lol). And it was pouring down when I left but I wanted to go home, eat dinner, and go to bed. So I start driving home... and it's raining... and I come up to this big-ish intersection wondering why there is such a line up of cars going the way I am (I was on the side street), and I notice that the power is out!! And the police are directing traffic! (I am so grateful for cops that direct traffic in the rain during thunderstorms. People just don't understand the concept of a multiple-lane 4-way stop.) So I get through the intersection and start cruising down the street... all the streetlights are out... until I get to my apartment... all the power is out... I didn't even go upstairs. (What's the point, I'm just going to get wet and couldn't see anything inside anyway.) Definitely couldn't cook. Now, I thought maybe I'll go find someone to hang out with, lol.

During the prayers I leave my phone in my car, but my bro's girlfriend had called a few times and they weren't doing anything so I called them at this ponit to see what's up, and I head out to Holly Springs to see the fam. Out there, though, a something had been hit (always neat, because it flashes this teal turquoise color...) and power was out in most of the neighborhoods I passed until I got to my parents' where they did have power! Pretty cool, alhamdulillah. So I fixed dinner there and had the conversations I described in my last post about Brit getting married and all.

So when I finally go home, my roommate is watching TV with her friend and these two guys I don't know. So we talked about the storm a little bit and the power going out (she'd slept through it). I'm not sure how it came up but she asked me about praying, one time. She knew I went to go pray roughly at sunrise, and apparently thought that we (Muslims) pray to the sun. She asked if we prayed outside or if there were windows in the mosque so we could see... lol.
So I tried to clear that up and explain the 5-times a day and why. There were more questions from her though her friends weren't so interested. Of course I jumped, I love to talk about it, haha, and did for a little while before finally going to bed.

My roommate herself isn't all that bad, you see. It's her friends I'm starting to think that bother me so much. As it is, I'm looking for places to move... inshallah something good will turn up soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Wedding Bells.. er.. Bugs?

Just yesterday, my brother's girlfriend (of 2 and a half years) graduated from high school. He's a 20-yr-old I-don't-think-I-like-college student, she's an 18-yr-old artsy person who is undecided as to the need for higher education. He's been working at this restaraunt for a while now, and has really impressed upper management. Really impressed--he's worked there about 2 years and has the vice president of the company wanting him working for him, and other top earners in this franchise thing. The idea is to get him a store to manage or "operate" and eventually get him to "own" a store, hiring his own managers, then to buy more. He can't decide if he should stay in school and get a business degree or just go ahead with work now.

His girlfriend has now just graduated, and isn't sure if she wants to go to school much less where. She's generally artistically inclined so has thought about art school and photography--but she's limited herself to being where my brother is. Meaning, she would go to a community college where his university was to be near him because she didn't have the credits to get in. But she's also somewhat restrained by her parents, who can't decide if they're going to help her pay for college or not. She happens to work as a waitress for the same chain as my brother.

So that's who they are... their relationship has been awkward for a while because she's been going to school here while he's been away, only visiting on some (not even most) weekends. Last summer he was gone entirely touring with a drum corps, and this summer he and she both were planning to participate in a smaller local one this summer, but since he might have mono now, that looks like it might not happen.

Anyway, it's pretty easy to tell what's going on now... they're young, she is absolutely obsessed with him. I figure they should get married since they want to start pretending that they are anyway. But now the girl... she has been planning her wedding from birth, I think. She showed me 'her dress' when I was over for Thanksgiving.. maybe even before that. She has flowers picked out, half the logistics planned... it's bizarre.

But now that's she's graduated, that has all stepped up a notch, it seems. Last night I thought I asked her if they were really 'officially' getting married--meaning he proposed etc.,--and I think the answer was no... but the rest of the evening was spent discussing her wedding plans. She has signed up for a wedding registry, even setting a date for September 21. She has visited a custom dress maker about the dress (which is a $2700 dress retail, btw, that she's going to try to get made) and has an estimate on the cost of labor ($600) and fabric (it's imported, you don't want to know). She has picked out flower girl dresses, the flowers and what kind of bouquet she wants, a cake... oh and she has this all in a little book she's made. She has definitely put some thought into this...

I really don't know what to say... it's kind of weird. At the moment, she's trying to decide what she wants "released" on the big day. She's into "fairies" if you know what I mean... Tinkerbell, Midsummernight's Dream, and I think butterflies were her insect of choice. Some people who know me know that I'm deathly afraid of butterflies (I'm getting over it, but very slowly) due to being attacked by one as a young child. So as a courtesy to me she's said she won't have butterflies, but she can't stop mentioning it. Until I mentioned that butterflies actually have scales--that powdery stuff, it's not dust, but scales. Her next choice is 'fireflies.' Fireflies are actually beetles, did you know that? Yet her only problem is that if she had them in jars, they kind of take their time to fly out so, she wouldn't really have any discernable effect.

Frankly, I think bugs at weddings is kind of creepy. But she's going to be the one in a topless dress (no shoulders/sleeves) with the critters flying around her. (I'm holding out and hoping I don't actually have to wear a retarded bridesmaid dress for this, ew, I just don't even want to have to go there with her. Mixing a girl who won't wear sleeves and hijab... yeah, not pretty, not sure how to be most polite. Guess I'll deal with it as it comes.) Anyway.. bugs have their place... I don't think weddings are their place.

So are they really getting married, or is this girl just dreaming a little too close to reality? I don't know, but my mom and sisters are more than happy to take her dress shopping. I hope I can pass on that trip.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The "Aunties"

This is a mixed complaint, I guess. There is a sister who likes me to go to a different masjid than I normally attend, and she's pushing really hard. Now, I like that masjid for the most part (except the fact that women pray in the cafeteria and can't see the imam... but there are rugs at least, which is better than the gym floor where I can see... anyway) and the khutbahs are much better (I hear--I've only been once and enjoyed it myself.) On the other hand the khutbahs at the closer mosque are just kind of bland, and usually partially or mostly if not entirely in Arabic. But anyway, that mosque is a long drive, and so I would rather stay "in town" instead of driving all the way out there--saves on gas, plus I've had many errands to run the last few weeks since I've been working so late. But she keeps pushing me, and I think is trying to make me feel bad for not coming. Now I really appreciate her support (sue has loaned me some CD's I've enjoyed listening to) but she's invited me to classes I haven't been to, and little social things I haven't been to either. It just seems like she's asking me to do way too much all at once. Another lady at a different masjid is putting a different kind of pressure on. She's been reading the Mars and Venus book(s?) and now is reading something about 'proper care and feeding of husbands.' I feel like she thinks I'm her guinea pig, and she's trying to marry me so she can test her newfound understanding of marital compatibility. So she's pressuring me to get married. And I really like praying at the masjid, but it's like if I go, and she goes, she assumes I want to chat for 30-90 minutes afterwards and I just can't do that. And when I say I need to sleep (like Monday night isha was at 10:30, I said I had to go to work at 330am the next day) I get this look like "It's so sad you have to do that, you really shouldn't, just stay home, someone will take care of you." It's condescending, somehow. Anyway, she keeps pressuring me to get up and pray this last third of the night thing, because she says (I haven't looked this up) that Allah swt descends in the last 1/3 of the night and will answer any du'as. Seems strange to me, since I kind of never really think of Allah swt as being so far that I can't make du'a, but when I get up for fajr, come to the mosque early and try to read some Qur'an, I get berated for not getting up early enough to make du'a in the last 1/3 of the night. Like fajr isn't a big enough accomplishment! Sorry--this is hard for me!!