Saturday, January 31, 2009

Religion and technology

So an organization called ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) started a billboard informational campaign to basically try and promote understanding of Islam and Muslims for the non-Muslims of North America. They've recently posted a billboard on the freeway I-94, that has a toll-free number 1-800-662-ISLAM (4752) and a website.

While I applaud their efforts and appreciate what they are doing, I've been having some trouble actually seeing this billboard. It's supposed to be near the Detroit airport. But this past month and a half I've gone to the Detroit airport a couple of times and I've never seen it.

So I'm starting to wonder where the heck did th
ey actually put that huge sign?

And how big is this billboard exactly?

Did they use invisible ink, perhaps?

If I can't see it, when I'm looking for it, then how are you supposed to get other people to see it???

So much for reaching out.

But it is interesting to see that religions are starting to make use of technology more and more. I mean, even the Pope has started his own Youtube channel. The goal of this channel is to reach out to religious Catholics as well as others and to "secure the Pope's presence on the web"(

I'm sure his channel is doing a better job though, than the never to be seen billboard.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moms, Dances, and Archaeology

I don't know how many of you guys watched "Superstars of Dance", or even heard about it. But basically it was this dance off between a couple different countries: USA, china, India, Australia etc. and the dance performances were given points.

And something, something, something...I didn't really follow the show (dancing isn't exactly my all), but I appreciated it for trying to raise some world unity.
I caught a couple of the dances (some were pretty dang amazing) and there's one that I rewinded and re-watched like 5 times, because it blew me away, and I was a bit more excited than usual that day.

It was a dance by the American team, called the Groovaloos..and it was soo cool. So check the video I posted for you guys, because I'm so nice.

In other news-I lost my cellphone for a year
(actually it was like 30 hours, but you know what it feels like to temporarily lose a hand)
and I couldn't find it anywhere. And I was convinced I had somehow dumped it with the laundry in one of the machines (washer, dryer, my mom's room, to be folded) but I was too scared to look there (my cellphone, broken more than it already was)
and I looked everywhere else I could think of (Everywhere else in my house)
for months (an hour here and there).

Luckily I have my mom,

"Mom I REALLY REALLY ROYALLY need my cellphone. Can you find it for me?"
"Oh I completely forgot about it. Ok I'll try"

I go out, and come back 40 minutes later. My cellphone is sitting in the middle of my bed, and my room looks a little more disheveled than usual. Seriously people, thank GOD, for moms. They are like miracle workers.
I mean they have to be to put up with people like me (She actually managed to find it in my room... MY ROOM, which also substitutes as an archaeological site)...It's crazy I tell ya. CRAZY.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I really should be studying but...

the last summer breeze, originally uploaded by Rabujee.

Just jotting down quickly a few things that are annoying me these days...
I don't know what's worse the weather or the economy. It seems like when one gets bad, the other follows. Yesterday, around 75,000 jobs were lost in the US alone. 75,000!!!!

Tomorrow there's supposed to be a huge winter storm throughout the mid-west. Some places will get around 20 inches of snow!!! (Well that's what they predict anyways).
No wonder I find myself looking at all my summer pictures lately and finding absolutely no desire to do anything photography-wise. This winter has been especially dull =\.

The ugly-ness outside combined with my new classes is going to send me on a long hiatus from my Flickr'ing.

There's another thing, it's like every time I want to study, I fall asleep or get hungry and start making something to eat. Then when I'm at work or in class, I worry, worry, worry about HOW I'm going to prepare for my coming exam.

My bag (for school) keeps getting heavier and heavier and the long boots I bought are a hassle to put on and take off, especially in the morning when I'm almost always on a time crunch when heading out the door.

Actually, it feels like there's ALWAYS a time crunch these days (by these days I mean the past 3 or 4 years). I feel like time slips by SO fast and especially when I'm driving, I'm constantly looking at the time worrying about getting places. I used to never be late, in fact, I was the 15-minutes-early-arriver, everywhere I went. But now, I almost always am late by at least 10 minutes (except for work). And no I'm not one of those people that take 10,000 hours getting ready to go out. So, where DOES the time go??

Speaking of driving, another thing I've noticed is the radio stations. Whats the deal with them always repeating the same music OVER AND OVER? Like, they have archives of probably millions of songs, yet they repeat the same top 20 all day long. They repeat them so much that some songs which I absolutely LOVED, I've started hating them because they're so overplayed and I can sing the lyrics backwards, forwards, and upside down. And if they somehow DO decide to dig up an oldie, they play something so random and from the 80's that I have to switch off the radio before I get nauseous. (Sorry, the 80's was the yuckiest era in my opinion for fashion AND music... for the most part anyways). Sheesh.

Ok, this turned out longer than I wanted and I think you've had enough of my complaints. So, I'm going to use Constructive Attitude's ultimate phrase and end this by saying: It's [all] SOOOO annoying.

*Sorry for the poopy title, I'm REALLY bad at thinking of titles


** Also sorry for the random and unrelated photo post, like I said I'm reminiscing the good ol' summertime

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mrs. Cullen: The Monkey

Dear Friends,

I think this is going to be a short post. I have things to do. I am just so so so busy. Anyways, the reason I am writing is because I'm freaking out [actually I am trying not to study].  Ok but seriously. Yesterday I was thinking to myself about all the things I do to distract myself from studying. Watching TV shows, watching more TV and even watching The Biggest Loser. I also just sit on my iPod touch [that I am so very very happy I have, thanks to my friends yay] all day and play stupid games. One game is called Papi Jump and its just a smiley face that you have to help jump up stairs and if you fall, you lose. Anyways. Ok let me get to the point. I am freaking out right now. Earlier I was trying to not study and I decided to open up my ear hole [things] I have since I never wear earrings. I opened both on the left ear but when I got to my right ear something was wrong. Something is wrong with my right ear! Its huge. Just the bottom part. Its swollen and ugly and it feels fat and I think I am turning into a monkey. Unfortunately it is hard for me to use WebMD this time because I don't know how to describe my symptoms.  [By the way WebMD is like my personal doctor and I also have the WebMD application on my iPod..just in case.] 

Sigh! I mean, if my symptoms are "lump or bulge" then it could be a cyst or something called abscess which is just gross.  If my symptoms are "swelling" then it could be an insect bite or cellulitis! I don't know what it is but what if I am really turning into a monkey. Or maybe God is punishing me for giving myself that bad haircut last week. Lord, please don't turn me to into a monkey. My brother thinks I am overreacting and told me to get out of his room because I am weird! Sigh. People are calling me weird already. I can't imagine what is going to happen when all the other symptoms begin. I might catch a fever or start vomiting or become hairy and crave bananas or or I dunno...the possibilities are endless. Please pray for me.

Yours for the sake of Peace, Sisterhood and Evolution,
Mrs. Cullen

PS: Please, do pray for me. I am being serious. Thanks.

Morning thoughts...

Mornings..., originally uploaded by Rabujee.

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world - not even our troubles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We CAN Do it!

I found this in the newspaper today. It was originally created by Marriott (the Hotel people).

You can't abolish slavery.

You can't build a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

You can't give women the right to vote.

You can't fly an airplane from New York to Paris.

You can't defeat Nazi Germany.

You can't devise a plan to rebuild war-ravaged Europe.

You can't cure polio.

You can't allow black children and white children to go to school together.

You can't put a man on the moon.

You can't beat the Russians in hockey.

You can't help bring down the Berlin Wall.

YOu can't map the human genome.

You can't elect a black man President of the United States.

What's next America?

Because whatever it is, the answer is
YES, WE CAN!!!!!!!!

Goodbye, update and quote

{1} I need to go on a hiatus. I have some stuff to take care of. See you guys in a month and a half. :)
{2} ANNND MOST IMPORTANTLY I fixed the feedburner thing so now you can subscribe to the blog at it'll properly notify you of updates and stuff.
{3} I came across this in an email. Thought I'd share.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Being wealthy does not mean having a great amount of property. Being wealthy is being content."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Third World Curtain

So I'm sitting at my seat in the exam hall this morning and for some reason my fingers are blue and I feel icy cold. This Indian weather can really give a girl frost bite.

After a few minutes it got a little toasty and the girl in front of me was getting a lot of sun on her back. Not good when you're writing a 3 hour exam. So before the exam started she asked me to close the curtain.

The thing is, I'm pretty weak. So I got up and pulled. Nothing. I pulled again. Nada. Again. The rod and the curtain come crashing down with a bang. Now the girl in front of me has no sun on her but the girl behind me and all the people in her row are all recieving enough light to attain the perfect tan. Unfortunately everyone wants to be "fair & lovely".

I half expected to see Nelson pop out and point and laugh. He didn't show. oh, the disappointment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yes we can?

Its been a long day ya'll what with all the history being made... I don't know about you but I am so tired!

As everyone knows, today was the super-hyped up Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. I was a bit bummed to be at work through it, I really wanted to watch his oath and speech...lucky for me our IT director hooked us up!!

Sitting in a conference room at noon I, along with a dozen or so of my co-workers, watched streaming video over the internet of the much anticipated event.

I had a lot of mixed emotions. For one, I was kind of antsy to hear his words and wondered if today I would finally get a glimpse into what he REALLY has to offer. Obviously, I felt happy to be able to witness a change-over that would go down in the books/movies/documentaries. It's like one of those "Where were you when..." events that you get to tell your children and grand-children later in life. I was happy to see the previous administration go and I was happy to see a new president that was the image of change. Amidst all this weird pride/enthusiasm I felt a whole lot of uncertainty.

You see, I'm neither a die hard fan of his nor am I a "hater" (sorry couldn't think of a better word) , I just feel indifferent about him. I feel extremely happy for what his coming into power symbolizes for this country, but as THE leader, I'm not sure yet what I feel for him specifically.

So at the end of today, one thought keeps coming into my mind and that is, if I were to meet Barack Obama, what is the ONE question I would want to ask of him? And the first thing that pops into my mind is:

*Clears throat*
"Mr. Obama, I'm not sure what your statisticians told you, but I can assure you that countless Muslim Americans supported you/helped bring you to your success, and recognize you as a great potential for change. Still most of us feel we have not been a part of the demographic, nor are we mentioned in the same respect as other minority groups (Latinos, African Americans, etc.). With that in mind, what will you do for Muslim Americans in this country, i.e. how will you better our situation and help at least recognize us as minorities that are VERY much a growing part of this nation?"

Hmm I wonder what he would answer.

So tell me readers, if you were given the chance to ask the new president JUST one question, what would yours be?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

System 3, Artistic Logic 0.

I'm annoyed. You know when you make a certain plan and you've planned it for months and then it falls through? Well, I'm that kind of annoyed. Hear me out and by the end of this post you'll be annoyed too.

So, a majority of our writers and friends here at SD are seniors at W.Uni. We've known each for years and then some and when the opportunity comes up for all of us to coincidentally graduate at the same time, it was very appealing to be able to attend a ceremony together. We looked forward to it, discussed it, anticipated it, and spent a lot of time beguiling our friend "Controlled Chaos" to join us at May 2009 Graduation. (She was about the only one of us who hated the idea of "walking" because to her formalities are annoying and ceremonies are mind-numbingly boring. Somehow, we finally convinced her to attend. I think?)

A new semester starts, and we're all in the process of figuring out our last requirements, applying for graduation, doing the paperwork, etc. I visited my academic counselor the other day, and asked him what I needed to do to be able to "walk" this May. He tells me that because I'm technically in school until December 2009, I CAN walk but I will need to apply for graduation twice.

Which means I'll have to pay the fee twice, once in May when I attend graduation and then once again in December when I finish up my remaining classes.

Although its not a HUGE amount ($40) -- the thought still struck me as a rip-off. Here's what I imagine as counselor man is telling me about this rule:
-Me writing a check for $40 to W. Uni.
-Getting a whole 2.5 seconds of fame on the stage
-Listening for those hoots/whistles from my fans in the audience (all 3 of them)
-Receiving a rolled up mock degree (basically a rolled up piece of printer paper that SHOULD say "You got hosed")
-And finally resuming my position among the graduates for the next 2 hours until the whole shabang is over

$40 for all that is a bit unnecessary in my book. I feel so unappreciated as a student. Where's the recognition I'm entitled to after putting up with 5 years of gruesome, hard work? I thought this was the end of it, but wait, this is W. Uni. they LOVE screwing students over... there's more to this story.

Today, I find out they've changed the logistics of the ceremony entirely. They broke the colleges apart into groups where each group will have a separate ceremony over a span of 2 days. So there are 4 ceremonies total! *Pause and blank stare for effect*

Not only that, there's no longer a "walk", its more of a "stand." Apparently, they call out the college and all the graduates from such college stand up for maybe a minute, and then that's it.

Pardon me, but who gave them permission to change the WHOLE system around when its time for ME to graduate? Now that I think back to my schooling, from elementary to college, something like this has always happened to my class. Some "testing out" of a new methodology or "restructuring." *Rolls eyes*

In elementary school, I remember everyone awaited the arrival of 4th grade. Why? Because once you got there you would be entrusted with a little bit more freedom and responsibility. This was the grade when you finally got to experience changing classrooms for every subject. From Kindergarten through 3rd, you stayed in one classroom most of the day and only got to get a change of scene for special classes like Gym or Art. Even then, you were escorted through the hallways, hushed about a 1000 times, told to straighten-up, quiet down, and follow each other closely as if you were in a caravan across a vast and barren desert.

That's why a 4th grader's chest swelled up with pride when he/she got the freedom to roam the hall on their own and find their way to the next class, unsupervised. That meant you could do all the FUN things like slide on the stairway railings if no one was watching and race down the hall with your friends.

What happened when it came time for ME to be in 4th grade? They made you stay in one classroom for 3 subjects and travel to a different one for the last 3 subjects. AND they put "hall monitors" in various corners of the school (just an assortment of very bored lunch ladies). Puh-thetic.

In junior high, the system became even more childish. Thats the time when tweens are becoming teens and looking forward to rollin' with the big crowd, right? SO what did the school do? They made sure we would retain our youthfulness by creating "teams" for 6th - 8th graders. Each grade was broken into two halves, and each team was graciously given a title like "The Tazmanian Devils" or "Tweety." I spent junior high as a "Road-Runner", then a "Tweety", and finally as an "Untouchable." Don't worry, I'm just as confused as you are about all this (STILL).

I'll spare you the details of high school but I'm PRETTY sure you get the point.

Looks like the system is winning again, but I'm not giving in this time, this time I have a choice. I'm NOT attending a crappy graduation and I'm NOT wasting 40 dollars on W. Uni. and THATS my final answer!

Now excuse me, I think I have to go figure out how to scrape the words "guinea pig" off my forehead before anyone else gets any ideas.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LOL @ culture. (or, "how i learned to stop worrying about the bomb by finally blogging again")

"And it is [God], Who created man from water: then from him He caused two kinds of kindred, by blood and by marriage; your Lord is all-Powerful (Qadeer)."
(Qur'an, Al-Furqan 25:54)
If kindred/relationship is created not only by blood, but also by marriage.. why should that be taken as patriarchal only? Shouldn't it be that not only is there a new kinship that a wife becomes part of her husband's family, but also that a husband becomes part of his WIFE's kin? Is this not also an equally important kinship? Is this the way of Islam or a double standard created by our patronizing cultures? MY Prophet (peace and blessings on him) would never teach this, my Prophet will recognize such relationship on the day of Judgment.. HE taught that women keep their name after marriage. So how could this verse (or rather, our cultures) suggest that it is only the man that creates the ties of relationship??

This much thought because of reading that one sentence... Heh.

Why so thought-provoking, provoking? Well.. I'm not one for giving introductions, but my family puts a lot of stress on our blood, and marrying to preserve the "blood-line." So I found something in our Holy Book that conveys an idea that blood is NOT bigger than marriage, but they are equal causes of kinship and honor. I have my proof. I'm so tired of double-standards against women.. these ideas that we have learned from old pagan traditions.

now i will go off on a tangent:

Although I quoted one verse from this surah (chapter) as an argument against marriage-for-preser
vation-of-culture, I really really want you to read the rest of Al-furqan. Do you guys often just pop open your holy book to any random page and see what it tells you? I do that a lot, especially when I just feel "bleh." I opened it to this verse, 25:54. The rest of the page is a thorough reflection of my sentiments towards God, when I connect science and spirituality. It's weirdly analogous to the way our body connects our emotions and our health. Isn't it amazing how stress affects so many of our bodily functions? Or how eating healthy and exercising releases endorphins that make us feel better?

I don't care what allopathic medicine teaches you, or what "Big pharma" markets to us, you just cannot talk about physical health without emotional health. You cannot treat one without the other; symptoms or side-effects should not be limited to "headaches, diarrhea, jaundice
, inflammation, teeth-grinding and mud butt".. but should include "restlessness, scatterbrain, frustration, hopelessness, anhedonia, paranoia, a false sense of immortality and security"
(and the latter cannot be limited by psychiatry or psychology or whatever, lol)

Just the same, you cannot talk about God as merely a "spiritual force", or the drive behind emotional depth, that feeling of Love. You cannot limit worship to the lifting of hands in prayer, the up-down-up-down movement of your joints and limbs. because God tells us in Qur'an, "The sun and the moon adhere to a fixed schedule, and the stars and the trees, all bow down (prostrate) in worship!" (Al-Rahman 55:5-6).
But the tree that is rooted and cannot move except as it resonates with the wind, the celestial sphere that is made of hot gas whose movement is only described by gravity and inertia: how can they move to bow down without limbs and motor neurons?

With that I present the definition of science, as Yours Truly sees it. Who the hell is Webster, anyway?

Science, (sns) n.
  1. the methodical study of how the universe worships God.
  2. An attempt to disguise human ignorance by using fancy words to describe the phenomenon of `ibadah (worship); especially the physical manifestation of said phenomenon.
  3. The projection of man's limitations in understanding what God already taught him.
    [Perhaps... perhaps our ignorance is compensation for having free will. Or is it a result of the definition of free will? (based on the Islamic model): free will is essentially intelectual freedom. Before you can make an actionable decision, you first make these decisions: How should I use the intangible aspect of my cerebrum? what is intelect? then, are my decisions based on intelect? i.e. intelectual capacity is necessary to have free will. caveat: intelectual capacity must be nurtured; intelectual potential demands individual accountability.]

==> [thus] We are able to define worship: "a recognition and acceptance of autonomy" where, autonomy describes the seemingly "self-governing" physical laws and biological processes.

To be continued...

I know.. real thought-heavy. sorry. I'm a geek.

Content with Boredom.

So I got a job.

Not a teaching job. But a job nonetheless.

Whatever helps me sleep at night, right? Right.

Anyways so I got this job like two weeks ago at a Physical Therapy clinic/home health care office. It's owned by two physical therapists---a Pakistani couple.

I'm basically the receptionist and secretary (I'm really not sure what the difference is between the two, but those are my job titles). I do anything and everything that they need me to do. I answer the phone, take messages, fix their printer, and file their paperwork for them. I also vacuum when needed, water the office plant, and make certificates for their masjid/mosque. It's like I'm their personal AND professional secretary.

It's going okay so far. Can't really complain. It's something to do while I apply and interview for actual teaching positions.

The only downfall of this job: It's SO boring. SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO boring.

I only interact with four people. For forty hours a week.

There's me;the couple who own it; the medical biller, Minnie (she doesn't really like me...but more on that later) and a cute Muslim girl who's known as the miscellaneous employee, Ena...

That's it. No one comes in. And no one really leaves. (Okay the physical therapists leave to see patients. But it feels like they're always there though. Breathing down my neck.)

So anywho, like any other day, one day I was extremely bored.I kept complaining to Ena about my boredom and she was quick to sympathize and agree with me.

(By the way Ena and I used to sit in the same room and talk all the time.. which made the time go by SO fast , but our boss didnt like that and said we were talking way too much and not getting enough work done. So basically she split us up into two separate rooms. Elementary school. I know. But I'm the new girl, I really can't complain and throw a tantrum)

(Not that I would complain, because I'm such a passive person and a pushover. A passive pushover)

I also didn't have my car with me that day and no food. So not only was I bored, but I was also carless and hungry. But Ena came to the rescue and insisted that she would take me to Subway to get food. I was too scared to ask my bosses if we could go (passive pushover, remember?). Ena asked instead. They were fine with it, and we were on our merry little way to Subway.

We were stopped at a red light when Ena asked me whether she should be turning right or left. It didn't really matter because we were on a one way street and everyone at that red light had to turn right. But I didn't think Ena understood that and for some odd reason I didnt tell her either. But she decided she wanted to go to the right lane. And instead of waiting for the cars on the right lane to pass, she decided it would be easier to just reverse. At the intersection. So she did just that. She was reversing and all of sudden, you hear WHAM!!!

Ena: OMG! Did I just hit something.

Me: Uhhh yeah, I think you just hit a car.


Ena: Should I go out there?

Me: I think so. I think that's what people do.

(Obviously this is the first time this has happened to the both of us.)

So Ena puts her blinkers on and puts her car in park, in the middle of the intersection, and we both get out of the car. She walks up to the person she hit. And I just kinda stand next to Ena's minivan and a HUGE semi truck, wondering what the heck I'm supposed to be doing. Eventually I get back into the car because the truck driver told me that if I didnt move he was gonna run me over because he had to merge into my lane.

I sat in the car and watched poor Ena flailing her arms back and forth and could read her lips and make out the words "I'm sooooooooooooo sorry" about fifty million times. And trying to calm the lady down as much as she possibly could.

After what seems like forever for me (I felt SO guilty), Ena comes back into the car, and the other lady drives away.

Me: OMG. What happened?

Ena: She took down my name and number.

Me: That's it?

Ena:Yeah, there wasn't any damage. Dude, I just bumped her car. No big deal. No damage.

Me: I'm soooooooooooooooooooooooo sorry

Ena: Why you sorry. You didn't hit her. It was my fault.

Me: I'm soooooooooooooooooooooo sorry (I was starting to sound like her) If I didnt want to go to Subway and if I wasnt complaining about being bored this wouldnt have happened.

Ena: Constructive Attitude, I'm the retard who decided to reverse in the middle of an intersection. So stop worrying. And plus there was no damage.

But I couldn't help but feel guilty. I couldn't even eat my sub or cookies. When we got back to the office we told our bosses about it, and their response was: "I'm so glad that I decided not to tell you to fill up the gas in my car, because I was so close to asking you to take mine instead of yours."

Ena was calm and chill and joking about it too.

Until she got a missed voicemail that is.

*After listening to missed voicemail*

Ena: Dude, I'm about to get sued!!!

ME: What?!?!?!?!??!?!??!

Ena: The lady just called me and said that if I dont call her back in half an hour, shes going to report me to the police as a hit and run.

Me: So call them back?

Ena: Should I? What do I say.

Me: Umm I'm not really sure. But just call them.

So she did. She talked to them for a while, and to make a long story short, they wanted $200 for damages.

Ena wanted to pay them the money so they would leave her alone. The bosses said NO way in hell. (Even I know, you don't do that)

But this is where I got stuck and our bosses jumped in. We had to figure out whether Ena had insurance or not. This took all of ten minutes because Ena didnt want to call her mom.

But she had to. Her mom was fine. Her dad? He told her he would be there in five minutes.

When he came, he couldn't stop yelling at her in Urdu. Poor thing. I felt so bad for her because she just stood there and took it ( I mean I do realize she had no choice. But I wanted to jump in there and say "It was all MY fault, Uncle. Please don't yell at her". Of course, I didnt, I just stood there) I don't understand the language, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that he was livid.

The people that Ena hit were not the nicest people either (And yes they had every right to be upset but not to the extent that they took it). When the uncle spoke to the "victims" they belligerently said that Ena was ignorant and that people like us-"ragheads" need to learn how to speak English and watch where the hell we're going(This I agree with). But some of the other stuff was too rude and too profane for me to share with you all. In my opinion, though, they sounded like the ignorant ones.

In the end though, Ena's father told her that if the people called back to tell them to either call the insurance company OR call him. That's it. And for Ena not to worry anymore.

It was a crazy day.

From this point on, I will pack a lunch for myself. And eat that lunch without complaining.

And never ever will I complain about being bored. (Or at least at this job)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We've Been Chosen!

We have been (were) chosen for the Lemonade Stand Award. We would've done this way sooner but some of the authors thought it was just a nomination and not an actual award. el oh el. Anyways, we're so touched. *wipes tear from eye* We'd like to thank Cheryl, Southern Belle and Mary. We're so honored. Their blogs rock, so check them out, if you haven't already.

In addition, we'd like to thank the Big Man upstairs *points up*, our parents and friends who supported me throughout this {they don't even know about SD} and all the little people out there who made this possible. *voice cracks* Before things get too emotional {You think they already have?} I'm going to get on to the rules:

1. Thank the person who was so thoughtful for giving you this award by linking their blog to this post.
2. Put the logo on your blog or post.
3. Nominate 10 blogs which show great attitude/gratitude.
4. Link your nominee to your post.
5. Comment them to tell them about the award they've won.

Our nominees are:
Sweep the Sunshine
Makes Me Chuckle
Clever Girl Goes Blog
I Beg to Differ
Work Girl
They Said about Islam
Fuel My Brain
Raising Yousuf and Noor: diary of a Palestinian Mother
The One Minute Writer

Enjoy the award! :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm supposed to say what now?

I am following suit like Falling Up and writing about myself today....or rather I'm being threatened into it as an effort to let you all connect more with the writers of this blog.

Actually, I think its a very good idea ... as long as someone else is doing the writing for this topic, not me. See, I don't even know where to start and I've been mulling over it in my mind for days. I'm afraid it'll be boring or I might just talk too much or stay stuck on one part of me forever... Anyhow... you can be the judge of how I do in the end....granted your snoring face is not plastered onto your keyboard halfway through the read... How do I start?

Well for one, I hate introductions and I am the most awkward person in the room (at work or school or anywhere) when people say "Lets introduce ourselves!". Lets not.

I am a hugely disappointed yet extremely proud student, 5 classes away from becoming an engineer. Yay! Disappointed because there are days when I don't have the slightest idea WHY i even wanted to get into this... and proud because not too many people make it TO engineering let alone THROUGH it. It's a rough ride though, I used to be a "mostly" A's student in high school until I decided to enroll myself into Mechanical Engineering. See, I wanted to challenge myself (what an idiot); I still make decent grades and THAT my friends is the challenge that I signed up for.

I wanted to design cars and work on them and I'm especially fascinated with engines. Once in a while I would get the typical inquiry from someone I met "What are you going to work on as a Mech. Engineer?" My answer was always to be an automotive designer but I'd add in "who knows I might be designing refrigerators for a living..."

So ironic that the other day while sitting in my 4x4 cubicle at my HVAC engineering job, I realized that designing "refrigerators" is essentially what I do. (I don't feel like explaining what HVAC is but I linked here anyway in case you're really bored). Don't feel sorry for me though, I don't hate my job... I just occasionally fall asleep at my desk.

Moving on... here's what I wished I could be: an architect and interior designer. Always wanted to be, always drawn to it... just didn't find the right opportunity... yet.

Oh THIS one you already may know, I take pictures... of anything and everything.

I grew up here n there... was born in Pakistan yes thats next to Afghanistan and India, our famous neighbors. My childhood was spent mostly there and partly in Saudi Arabia. I've been in Michigan since 1993.

I'm telling you, if you want the best roasted chicken in the world...stop by Al-Beek Restaurant in Jeddah, SA. Thats the most vivid memory I have of the country.

Here's where I would add in some fun little fact about me... but I have none. I hate what's going on in the world right now and that seems to occupy most of my thoughts these days.

I hate the weather here....especially this winter... seems like we just have dump trucks of snow falling on us, then a whole buncha sunshine for a day to melt it all way... and then another dumping. Guess it keeps us on our toes. I daydream about spring and sunflowers, seriously.

I wish I lived on a sunny, tropical island everyday of my life. *sigh*

The End.

If you haven't checked out Falling Up's introduction to the blogging world, then please's way more entertaining than mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Twenty Three years Ago Today

I was born.

Man I feel old.

And six years ago today my parents thought it would have been great to surprise me and my siblings by telling me that they were going to have another baby. {that's her in the pic, not me}

Yes, you heard me.

I remember standing in the doorway, my head feeling incredibly light. I had to lean on the side of the door to keep from collapsing. My knees never shook that much. I might as well have thought that I was going to have a baby.

The ultrasound picture looked just like my other sister so I thought they dug it up from somewhere and were playing some sick joke on us. I never believed my parents until my mom started getting bigger and more emotional.

But I'm happy she's here. The light of my life. I love her.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mrs. Cullen: The Hair Stylist

Dear Friends,

Ok I am officially an idiot. Its the day before Winter semester and I cut my hair! On my own! Omg. I am seriously an idiot. I really didn't think it would be that bad. Sigh. I love long hair and I had been growing my hair for a while now but the ends were just so bad. Very very bad. So I just wanted to trim the tips. But my idiot brother was in the room while I was deciding to do this idiotic task and encouraged me to cut more. "You would be an idiot if you just cut the tips, you might as well do a lot," he said. And why did I listen to him? I DON'T KNOW. But I did. Now my 12 inches [um I don't know if it was 12 inches, is that a lot? is that a little? basically I had a lot of it] of hair is now just 4 inches. Not only is it short, but its also uneven. Obviously. You can't cut your hair by yourself. After that, I decided I wanted side bangs. Seriously. I'm such a freaking genius. I grabbed a bunch of hair by my forehead and cut diagonally, from bottom to top. I have gotten my hair cut a zillion times and I know thats how they do it! It has to be. I ended up just not stopping as I cut upwards. When the scissor reached my forehead area, I realized I had gone too far. But it was too late. I decided to fix the mess by giving myself front bangs. Also a bad idea.

I can't believe I decided to do this on the last day of break; the day before school. I'm such an idiot. I kept trying to reassure myself that its going to be ok. My hair grows back fast [which is a lie]. Its not that bad [also not true]. Its so unique and modelesque [hahaha yea right]. I want to cry. I keep thinking about my bridal shower and wedding [whenever they come] and how my hair is going to be short and uneven and ugly. People are going to laugh at me and I will be the ugliest bride ever. My prince charming wont want to marry me. He will be embarrassed. Sigh. I really am an idiot. Good thing I wear a scarf on my head.

Yours for the sake of Peace, Brotherhood and Aerosols,
Mrs. Cullen

PS: I don't like the new layout. I miss the old one. Ok bye.
I have a lot of weird things on and in my desk drawer. My sister opened the drawer once and started making fun of me. Well, what's random for you is important for me. I guess people only expect office stuff in a desk. All my extra office stuff is stuffed under my bed or somewhere.

I'm a practical person. And a lazy one. When I'm studying I don't like getting up so much because it results in me taking very long walks around the house. I end up taking a detour to the fridge, do a little dance, etc. It's not good. So I need some important things at my desk all the time to help me stay seated. If it's not on my desk and not listed below, it's not important.

1. Water bottle. Maybe not so random. But random if the water cooler {In India we have to buy our water. Boiled water tastes gross} is 6.5 steps away. Wait..5.5. If I get water, I end up extending my journey and heading out to my sister's room. She has a fridge. Saves Lazy Girl the trip downstairs. :)

2. Deodorant. This country can get hot. Or maybe studying works up quite a sweat. Either way, when times get greasy, I don't want to have to get up and look for my Secret. :)

3. Tweezers and nail cutter. I can't study when there's a beauty emergency. Enough said. :)

4. Mirror for said beauty emergency.

5. Antibiotic ointment. In case I get cut and think I'll get some disease by one of all the bacteria I learned about last year. Med School is making me psycho.

6. Pills. Lots and lots of case studying gets to me and I want to overdose?

7. Pill cutter for the big pills. I said overdose, not choke.

8. Vo5 hair gunk. In case I feel like styling my hair while studying.

9. A trophy for my volleyball match last year. I'm not good at volleyball. People here just aren't good at all. To remind myself that I'm a winner!! Just kidding. i really have no clue why it's still here.

10. My stuffed dog. He's a tiny little guy. He has two of my other medals around his neck. We named him Robert.

11. Flashlight. For when the power goes out and I have an exam the next day. Beats candles. Candles make you hot and possible sweaty since flame + no fan. But then again, I do have the deoderant for that.

12. Many Many DVDs. In case I feel like distracting myself and failing.

Okay this study break had gone on long enough. Where do I keep my laptop? On a little stand right next to my desk. See? I don't even have to get up for that. I'm not usually this lazy, only while studying. If I didn't have exams I'd be hitting up the treadmill. Promise.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Third World Ceiling

I feel like Chicken Little announcing this but I really need to get this out of my hair...literally.


Every time I get out of the shower, pieces of ceiling paint and God knows what else fall on top of me. I think the steam from the water goes up and makes the paint soft which then falls on to my hair and arms. My sister looked in the mirror the other day and thought she had a massive dandruff attack. haha.

Ohhh I should take a picture for these type of posts! Alas, I am lazy. And shouldn't be blogging because of exams.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

From God we come, and to Him we return

It's like a dream. A bad dream. Or at least it feels like one.

I'm sitting, with a white piece of paper, with names of people scribbled all over it, things to do, and people to call for the bridal shower I'm helping throw for a best friend. At the same time, I'm on the phone with one of the people, and moving the laser pointer around with my other hand, smiling, watching my cat chase after the little red dot.

There it goes again. The phone's ringing. It's past midnight, anyone who knows my family wouldn't call at this time, let alone call twice. I ran to pick up the phone, afraid it'll wake up my sleeping parents, hoping I won't miss it again. It's my uncle, from Saudi Arabia.

Asalaam walaikum ( Peace be with You, a Muslim greeting)
Walaikum asalaam (And peace be on to you as well) How are you Bhaijan Mama? (what I call my mom's oldest brother)
I'm doing good alhamdulillah (Another Islamic term-Thanks be to God). How are you?
I reply the same
Is your mom awake?
Errr lemme go check

She had partially woken up due to the phone, but was still too sleepy to answer the phone

She's sleeping Bhaijan Mama. Should I wake her up?
Oh Ok, no don't. Tell her that your nani ammi ( my grandmother, my mom's mother), your nani ammi ok, tell her she passed away when she wakes up.


Oh um ok. ( I wasn't getting it. Who is he talking about? It can't be MY nannammi. It wouldn't happen like this. I'm doing a bridal shower.)
Ok just tell her naani ammi passed away. (Now I'm noticing, how raspy and quiet his voice sounds, devoid of his usual enthusiasm). Did you understand?
Oh ok. Um ok.
She passed away 15 minutes ago. She died today, on such an important day.
Yeah...( and that's when it hit me) Are you doing ok? ( I asked clumsily, barely remembering it was his mother as well)
I'm doing ok alhamdulillah. Okay then, I'll talk to your mom in the morning.

I hang up and and the next thing I know is, I'm already crying.
I remember the prayer Muslims are supposed to read whenever they hear the news of someone's death and read it fast, feeling stupid.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioun ( From God we come, and to Him we return)

I tell my friend I'll talk to her later and hang up. I've never gotten this upset, this fast before. I didn't even get a chance to hold back my tears, and wait for the familiar glazing over in my vision from the build up of tears.

I mentioned my grandmother in a post right before this one, seeing her was one of the things I was grateful for in the previous year.

She has, had a form of dementia/alzheimers, and when I saw her the past summer, she had no idea who my mom was, and could barely move. In the beginning I sat with her for sometime, helping her remember her own name, hoping she would at least return to the way she was a couple summers ago, when I saw her last.

After sometime, I started avoiding her because it scared me to see my grandmother, who I used to see every summer as a child, like that. It was like she had already left us and I was powerless to help her.

Now she really did leave us. No, she was actually gone, way before that.
I'm sitting and crying hard, but trying to be quiet. I didn't want to wake my parents.
It hits me again. I can't tell my mom. How dare my uncle leave me with this kind of a horrible job? What do I do? Maybe I can wait for my dad to wake up and tell him to tell her. Yeah I'll do that. I can't believe he wanted me to break the news.

I tried imagining what it would be like to recieve the news that your mom passed away. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be the one to do that. I'll just wait till morning and tell my dad. And again it hits me, how could I be horrible enough to wait till morning? I would hate anyone who would do the same. What's wrong with me? It' s her mom. My grandmother...the same strong woman who used to defend me whenever my grandfather would get angry with me. The one who raised my mother. The one who would read the Quran (our holy book written in Arabic) out loud so beautifully that every time, I would want to just sit and listen to her.

I walk over to my parents room
Mom? Mummy?
She turns around. Yeah?
Umm ( Don't prolong it! Say it!) Nanni ammi passed away.
Mummy, nanni ammi passed away.
She sighs, I knew it. He wouldn't call this late unless something happened. When did it happen?
He said 20 minutes ago
Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioun

I'm standing there crying. I was more or less expecting this reaction from my mom. She was hit really, really hard when we saw my nanniammi the past summer. While uncomfortably rubbing my foot against my other leg, I'm wondering if I should hug her . I'm not the hugging type but more importantly I was afraid she would start crying if I do.

It's ok. She was gone already,
I hear my mom say

I looked down and noticed my cat had been following me around. I smile at my cat. Marveling at her ability to realize that I was upset.

My dad wakes up. What's wrong? What happened? ( I wasn't crying out loud. For the most part it was just quiet. And once again I'm amazed at the ability of God's creations to be so sensitive of their surroudings.)

I wait for my mom to answer. She doesn't say anything.
Nanniammi passed away. Bhaijan mama just called.

He says the same prayer outloud and then says,
At least she's not suffering any more. It was her time, and she died on such a blessed day.

Yeah, alhamdulillah. My mom agrees. She was already gone, at least now she's at peace.

I walked over to my mom, my cat following at my feet. And I lied down, partially on top of my mom, my legs still on the ground.
It was an awkward hug, She was turned to the side, facing away from me, i had my stomach on top of the side of her back, and my head on her shoulder.
I stopped crying.
I listened to her breathing and synchronized my breathing with her's, and stood there quietly. Wondering, what kind of pain my mom was feeling. I looked at her face. She wasn't crying. She opens her eyes, and tells me to go to sleep.

My dad gets up. Repeats again what he said earlier. I felt like he was trying to comfort himself and my mom. He lies back down in awkward position.

I get up to leave, and hear my father repeating the same phrase again, at least she's not suffering anymore and she passed away on an important day. He asks if my uncle is going to India, to help bury her. I tell him I don't know.

Salma was gonna go see her. She was leaving on the 15th. Poor thing, she wanted to visit mummy, I heard my Mom saying as I left the room ( Salma is my mom's younger sister, my mom is extremely close to her)

I stopped crying and decided I wanted to get my feelings out. I wanted to write about it. People die everyday, somebody's grandparent, father, mother, child, sibling is dying somewhere. Do I have a right to be this upset? What about those people, children that are dying due to war, disease, hunger? I think of all the articles I read about the people that died at the hands of Israel, that the general American population don't know about, or don't care about.

The same reason why most of the world hates America. Because of America's refusal to ever tell Israel it's doing something wrong, even when the rest of the U.N. is blatantly saying Israel is committing atrocities.

So do I have a right to be this upset? If I am going to grieve for one life, I should be grieving for all those lives as well. It's not fair on my part to be selfish. Like my mom said, my grandmother had left us a long time ago. I already shed my tears when I saw her last summer.

So why am I crying again? Why am I feeling so much regret for not spending more time with her? For not doing more for her? Why do I not want to belive it, and hope that I can go back and serve her? Why do I miss someone who had already left? Why does it ache to say nanniammi?
I miss her. I want her back. The way she used to be. I don't want my mom feeling this pain, that must be a thousand times worse than mine. My mom's a strong woman when it comes to things like these, but I'm not.

I want her back. Am I not going to see her face again? The one wrinkled through age, and hair that was so white, that I would sometimes be fascinated at the color.

But I want to be happy for her, my nanni ammi, I want to be. Be happy that she's happy to be with her Creator, not hurting anymore.

I don't have my grandmother anymore. God does.

God please forgive her for all her sins. And let her enter Paradise. And tell her I loved her and I'm sorry I wasn't a better grandchild. Please God. Please.

I don't know how long this post is, or how boring it is, or how many mistakes it has, but if you got to end of this post, I want to ask you to make a prayer for all those who are dying or suffering. And if you don't believe in God, then do something you feel will make a difference.

Is she really gone?

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

Okay, so I'm not really crying...

But today is my birthday.

And usually a month before my birthday, I remind everyone that my birthday is in this many days.

This year I just didn't have the stamina to do it. I even deleted my birthday from my Facebook profile. I just didn't want my birthday to come? I guess? I don't know.

(And it's not because I'm getting "older". That kinda stuff wont phase me until I turn 30.)

(But I really hope this is not how my future birthdays will be. And I hope as I get older I don't become a bitter old woman that absolutely dreads her upcoming birthdays)

I'm not really sure what's bothering me. But something is.

Maybe it's because I feel so empty these days. Like something HUGE is missing from my life.

(Seriously, no one better say that the thing that's missing in my life is a "guy" or marriage. Or even kids. That notion is getting very very old.)

(And just in case, I didn't make it clear enough, it's NONE of those things)

Anyways, a couple of my family members and friends asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Lately,every time I hear that question I remember the lyrics to this song by the Goo Goo Dolls. It's called "Better Days":

And you asked me what I want this year
and I try to make this kind and clear
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
'cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
and designer love and empty things
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I need some place simple where we could live
and something only you can give
and that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive
and the one poor child who saved this world
and there's ten million more who probably could
if we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
and somehow stop this endless fight
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

Seriously, that's all I want.

If someone can give me that, I can die a happy woman.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Confused Thoughts, originally uploaded by Rabujee.

Over the past weeks, I (along with millions of others humane enough to be bothered by the news) have been dismayed by the constant Israeli torment and barrage of bombs over Gaza. As part of a blog written by young American Muslim girls, you may have wondered about our silence on the issue. Is it because we aren't concerned or passionate? Is it because we are afraid? What could be the reason as to why this group of young Muslim females have had no words to say or are seemingly "avoiding" what everyone else is talking about?

Its not that I can sit here and define the exact reasons or say what each of the contributors on this blog feels; I can only speak for myself and represent my views. Its not that we're not hurting inside, its not that we're turning the other cheek, its not even that we're afraid to speak up...its just that there is no justice our words can do for the situation. There is no way we can quantify the pain and suffering felt by Gazan's, and equally there is no way to quantify the pain we feel when we see their blood-stained streets, the choked cries and sobs of a mother who lost not one, not two, but five of her precious daughters in a single moment... and just like her thousands of mothers whose eyes are barren, devoid of tears because they've all been shed. There are images of tiny bodies, unrecognizable...watching them we're too fearful if we look hard enough we may connect it to a human face, a frozen expression, yet we can't look away.

Human loss is undoubtedly the largest cause of unspeakable pain and torture. But we can't forget there is other kinds of loss, that slowly degrades the remaining survivors...seeing their communities turning to dust and rubble day by day.

Places of advancement, schools and universities, destroyed in a matter of minutes; Places of serenity and worship, mosques, blown to bits ruthlessly. Are these the places in which so called "terror" is found?

NO these are the very institutions that build generations, bring people out of despair, that aid them in difficult times, that give them a rope to pull themselves out of oppression. Mosques, where the faithful retreat tirelessly asking God for his mercy and help, asking for strength, trying to surround themselves with images of tranquility for a change...even if its just for a few hours. Take away these buildings and force residents to cower in their dark, cold homes...feed horror into their minds, and you're slowly decomposing their soul.

These are a people who have been born into war, who have known nothing but blood-shed and agony, and seeing them suffer constantly while the world watches....its all weighing heavily on our hearts. How can we express that?

How do you express what it feels like to not be able to help, to have little to no control over the events? How do you tell what it feels like to watch as the lifelines of an entire population are cut slowly. No aid can reach them; electricity, clean water, even proper medical facilities are not available to them and haven't been for months! The recent events aren't the start, this is just when the world's attention was brought to the matter. These people have been suffering for decades, and LITERALLY have had walls closing in on them for quite some time.

How can OUR words do justice to unnecessary torment? Ours definitely can't but words of a Gazan, can...I'm leaving with this excerpt from a Palestinian resident writing for
Palestine Monitor . I honestly can't add anymore to this.

"Dear Friends,

I am writing you with a delay today due to the lack of electricity.

I want to cry, Dr. Nizar Rayan, professor at the Islamic University was killed, bombed with his entire family inside of his house. He was a brave man, who refused to leave his home despite all the Israeli treats. His principle was to resist and stand up in dignity, or to die. His house was bombed by 4 rockets. His 3 wives and 8 from his children and grandchildren were killed… Some of his neighbours were killed too, and many injured.

Today, the bombings haven’t stopped yet. On the contrary, it continues heavily. The night was terrible and we couldn’t fall asleep because of the bombings and the cold.

The strikes of last night and this morning destroyed the Parliament of Gaza that has just been recently built. Two Ministries –among which the Ministry of Education, a school, a hospital and a clinic, a cheese and yoghurt factory were destroyed too. Along with 3 money exchang. It may not seem important but for almost 5 months, the Palestinians from Gaza have been paid in dollars and not in shekels anymore. And now, the money exchange offices are bombed!

On the morning of the 6th day of massacre, there are 412 martyrs of which 90 haven’t been identified yet. Among the 322 martyrs known, 38 children have been killed. There are some 2,000 injured of which 261 children. Those children, are they criminals? Are they terrorists?

There is not places enough to care the injured in the hospitals of Gaza, and many of them will be disabled for the rest of their lives.

On this 5th day of war, the lack of bread and food is still lasting… so are the power cuts.

Some sites have been bombed several times. It seems bizarre. Someone explained me that the Israelis are bombing the same site on several occasions, even if the site has been destroyed already; so that Uranium will remains, causing long-lasting health troubles!"

Salma Ahmed, 23 years-old French teacher Gaza French Cultural Center

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The end of 2008

Yes, this is a bit late.
Ok fine, it's really late. But just like everything else I've done in life, it's better late than never.

The past couple of day I've been to other blogs and I've seen new year's resolutions, summaries of the past year, and others just kinda highlighted random stuff and said their expectations.

I have only one expectation of 2009: I hope to GOD it's better than 2008.

Let ME tell you, 2008 was an annoying year. From having to deal with the greatest drop in my GPA ever, to dealing with too many close cousins or friends getting married and leaving and a bunch of other stuff that I assure you would completely make you sympathetic to my cause. Perhaps you would even create a fund in my name.

But on the plus side, I'm alive, healthy, and relatively happy. So I do have that to be grateful to God. And most of my family and friends are relatively healthy. I did get to go to India and see my grandmother. She might not remember me or recognize me anymore but at least I was able to see her, if not my grandfather. I was able to attend three cousin's weddings, and one's engagement, if not the weddings of another two cousins (maybe the actual problem is I have too many cousins ). Sure my GPA suffered, but at least I'm almost done with school.

The highlights of this past year, besides visiting India and seeing my family, would have to include the amazing 'surprise' birthday party my incredible friends pulled off. And, my cat is always a highlight of my life.

(Yes, there is a chance I might grow up to be the crazy cat lady from Simpsons
Agh ahugh menawow Aghgwagawaaa!!!

Okay, mehhhh, last year wasn't sooo bad. But I'm still glad it's over. There's a chance I could do much better this year insh'Allah (An Islamic Phrase- Arabic for God willing-please God, please !!)

My resolutions for 2009??? None
I'm not like you yearly resolutioners (hmm I think it may ACTUALLY be a word!!) who decide they are gonna lose 15 pounds this year, or be amazing at something. I like facing reality head on, not come to terms with it at the end of the year. Not saying you won't actually successfully complete your resolution, there's always those few that are annoyingly good at everything.

I'm just saying the little cycle of setting a resolution, and failing, so changing your resolution to something lower, still failing, setting it so low it's embarrassing and still failing- is now a thing of the past!!! Don't worry, soon enough you'll mature and hit the same conclusion as me. Just don't bother with it. Go to bed at 9:30 on New Year's Eve (yes I skipped a New Year's party for a chance to sleep super early) for the first time in the year and wake up the next morning and laugh at your friends' resolutions for the past and new year.

Sounds like a great plan to me.