Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm Going to Boot Camp

My mother, God rest her, was a lot of things, but she certainly wasn't a housekeeper. Until we moved into her parents' house when I was late into my fifth grade year, I never really experienced living full-time in a clean environment. At that age, or at least for me, I think one's sense of neat-freakiness is already established. Unfortunately, I missed out. Of course, that's probably one giant excuse for my messy demeanor. Nevertheless, I still didn't learn much of how to clean house.

My mom's mom kept a very clean house until her fibromyalgia and arthritis got bad enough to make it too painful to clean as much as she used to. My dad's mom keeps a spotless house. I'm talking this shack sparkles. Not only does it sparkle, it constantly smells like apple cinnamon or cinnamon spice and any scent combination of the like. Her linens are cool and soft and smell of cedar and fresh fabric softener. She can host a family dinner for 20 and have her place back to its usual immaculate state in less than an hour.

This is the kind of house I want - right down to the cedar-smelling sheets. My Granny is definitely more than a housewife. She held down a full-time career during the raising of all her children and to this day at the vibrant age of 70, she's still a 9-5 accountant. I just wish I could figure out how to shove this fat, lazy self into the the Susie Homemaker with a Career mold.

I feel like the reason for my recent "funk" is definitely the fact that I'm not as organized as I'd like. Of course, this causes tension between DH and me because he feels he brings home the [turkey] bacon and I should clean it up, put it on the plate, and then do the dishes. That's an issue all in itself, but he's right - I could at least clean up the joint.

My desk at work and my school materials are always pristine as far as being organized goes. It drives me crazy to be any other way, so why is my home (and car) always in disarray? I have no idea, but I want it to change. NOW!

I have decided since I'm not actually in a house all to my own and I still have help, I should take this time to learn to clean. I'm going to force it on myself. I want my home to smell like cinnamon spice and everything nice, so I'm sending myself to cleaning boot camp. I will actually draw up a chart, just like in kindergarten (minus the gold stars...maybe...we'll see) and check off chores as I go. I know that it will make my husband happy, and it will certainly make me happier to be in a more tidy environment.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness? I don't know, but I can see how it's true. Organization is not only important in keeping a nice house, but also in religious, marital, and studious items as well. This new version of my funkified self has fallen short in many areas other than cleaning. I've gotten lazy in many other aspects of my life and I know that it's all baby steps to get back to where I want to be. I'm going to start with cleaning my house, and then I'll move on to more "housekeeping" of other sorts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why an expectant mother shouldn't watch baby shows

While I was waiting for my teeth whitening trays to season, I decided to flip on the tube. I scanned through the programs, trying to find something remotely entertaining on the daytime line up. I happened upon TLC's A Baby Story, followed by Bringing Home Baby. Since DH was on the couch laptopping nerdy things (as usual), I decided he wouldn't really care if I subjected us to an hour of "girly shows." What I didn't know is that when it was over, I'd be somewhat emotionally distraught.

I'd watched the shows several times before while dreaming and pondering what my future children and pregnancy(ies) might be like. I always found it adorable how the courageous mommy would be wheeled into the delivery room while the I'm-just-going-to-pretend-I'm-not-going-to-barf daddy stood supportively by her side as she writhed in pain and birthed their little bundle of joy.

This time it wasn't so enjoyable. This time I couldn't ignore the pain and suffering and I certainly didn't find it as "viewing pleasure." In fact, for the first time, I had the inward and outward realization that, "HOLY *&^%!! This is going to be ME in a few months!!" I sat in sheer horror as I watched, though mostly blurred, the amount of blood and carnage that poured from that poor woman's body.

After that was over, the next show was about Baby's first 36 hours at home. I watched as the zombie-like sleep-deprived parents tried to muster enough strength to smile into the camera as they wiped slimey yellowish dung from their new baby's behind.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I didn't KNOW all of this before. But before, to me, women with children were like some sort of special breed built to handle the battles of mommyhood. They smell naturally like baby powder and their vocabulary simply consists of all things baby. It's just it used to be THOSE ladies with kids. Now it's ME with a baby on the way, and it's extremely surreal.

If everything turns out okay, God willing, soon it will be me up to my elbows in poopy. Will I be able to lie to all my friends, "Oh, it's just like a bad backache. You don't remember the pain," like everyone has lied to me!? How will I not strangle DH when he ever-so-cutely "demands" his evening tea when I'm bouncing a baby on my hip? Will I too adjust to zombie life?

My life has been nothing but adaption to superficial procedures - such as learning to wake up to an alarm clock, use to plan my day and a machine to communicate with other humans. Now because of sights of needles and drugs and sterile rooms and the thought of people in scrubs soon hovering over my naked business and prodding me with steel instruments and monitors, I fear most the most natural process life has ever known. OH THE IRONY!

When does the animalistic instinct overpower the logic and kick me into mommy mode?!

For now, I think I'm just going to avoid any and all TLC daytime programming until I can figure this all out!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I hate more than ever to say, "I told you so."

I was standing in the kitchen making dinner when the phone rang. No number appeared in the caller ID box, so I considered ignoring it. I picked it up to hear the telltale crackle of an international call. It was my friend from Libya.

I heard her voice shake from desperation as she told me as soon as she got to Libya the fighting with her father began and how the return ticket he had promised her was a completely broken deal.

She said he had made her swear that she would not discuss her return to the US with anyone. However, her dad's two brothers cornered her and began telling her she was ruining the family by leaving Libya again, and that she could not be a real Muslim or Arab living in the US.

When she later questioned her father about her ticket, he said she had broken the code of silence and therefore he was not responsible for holding up his end of the bargain. It was all a trick.

She went on and on about the drama that had been unfolding over the last week. The whole time my blood was boiling.

She then said, "He [her dad] told me I could go, but I'd have to take mama. I don't want to take her. I'll find some other way."

I exploded! I told her, "No. You get on that plane. I don't care if you have to marry someone or bend over backwards, you get on the plane to the US and come back. I told you. I TOLD you! Everyone told you this would happen and still you thought you could just do whatever. Get on the plane, and come home. Do whatever it takes! We all told you and now we can't help you."

I just can't get over the fact that we all tried to help and still she was so arrogant to believe she could handle it and she could make it all better. Now she's stuck in a country where no one can help, and I'm here equally worried as I am pissed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Into the land of the unknown

One of my best friends left for Libya, her family's home country, last night. I can't help but fear that was the last time I'll ever see her.

In her family, there are ten kids. The eldest son refuses to live with his father because of the abuse he sustained in the household, and has spent several years in counseling to overcome his past. My friend happens to be the second oldest. All the girls, even the youngest ones, fear and refuse marriage because they don't want to live life like their mother and be subjected to an overbearing man.

Her father is the type that gives Muslims and Arabs a bad reputation. In public, he's upstanding and polite. Behind closed doors he's oppressive, paranoid, and worse, violent. I've heard countless stories from the girls about what he's done in moments of anger. Coming from an abusive past myself, it's all classic symptoms to me.

And if abuse isn't enough, he uses "religion" as a punishment. For example, in their household, if you do something wrong, you're forced to memorize Qur'an. If you don't memorize it in the certain amount of time, you're beaten, and so on. MashaAllah, most of the kids are hafiz or hafiza, but it means nothing to the heart if it is beaten into you.

I guess over the last couple of years, I've witnessed my friend step in and out of her past. After a particularly violent outburst, she decided to leave home. She couldn't go far because she was tied to the university and of course, her sisters. However, she got a job on her own and stayed with us, her friends, until she could find her own place. She took off her hijab and jilbab that had been forced on her, and colored her hair so the community and her father couldn't easily recognize her in a crowd.

The abuse didn't really go public until a private conversation between a loose-lipped lady at the masjid and one of my friend's sisters somehow got passed along. People started talking badly about her father, who, until the news got spread was referred to as "sheikh" around the community. But still, people still talked badly about my friend for leaving home. They would say "this is her amana" or her responsibility to bear, and she should return to her parents.

My friend was constantly ridiculed and considered "loose" for leaving her violent home. Women in the community would come to her and ask her if she'd like to get married - assuming her purpose for leaving was to have "freedom." They would also try and convince her to go home. Even two notoriously verbose American converts would talk so openly about the family's business and abuse and gladly spread the rumors. However, they said, because she's Arab, she needed to return home. "It's just not the same for them. She's ruining her family," they would say.

It was a conflict I didn't quite understand. However, it started to become clear to me after my friend told me her mom refused to divorce her dad. "This is all she knows," she had told me. "She thinks this is all there is for her." I guess in some, very corrupt circles of thought, abuse and violence towards women is normal and something a woman, if a she is ever so unfortunate to encounter, should keep hidden to protect the honor of her family.

But where is the honor in a family who allows such things? Where is the honor in people who so blatantly go against the teaching of Islam and supposedly do it in the NAME of Islam? And better yet, where is the honor in a group of people who widely accept abuse as the norm?

She ignored it all, and burned bridges and cut ties when needed. I admired her for her strength and her willingness to learn how to live life on her own. She would frequently return home when her father was away to visit her family. But when she came back, I could see how taxing it was to step back into the shadows. Her mother was so needy as she was never allowed to learn to manage finances and life on her own, and constantly asked her to come home. Her sisters yearned to do the same as she did, and eventually, another left as well.

Her father returned from Libya with some relatives all proclaiming how much money he was making and how successful he was. Of course my friend was happy to see new family members and get to know them. However, they all began telling the children how they should return to Libya with their father. It was like a planned act. One by one, the relatives would mention something about how "wonderful" Libya would be.

At first, all the girls rolled their eyes. They all wanted to be in touch with their heritage and culture, but why would they want to leave their colleges, their friends, and the life they've known since they were born?

Then came the plane tickets. Their father told them the lease on their house was ending in August, and produced plane tickets and passports for all of them to board a plane for Libya.

At first, my friend and her sisters completely refused to go. However, one by one, her sisters were convinced that they should go as a family. Still my friend refused. She called me last week to tell me how torn she felt. Her mother and her siblings, all but her oldest brother, were leaving for Libya, and she'd always wanted to go. However, she wanted it to be on her own terms.

She even said she knew her father would have an easier time controlling his children and she suspected that was his prime motivation for the mass exodus to Libya. After all, why would a man who came to the U.S. himself to become educated and make money take his daughters out of colleges here to go to a third world country? It had to be more than just a "visit."

Still she couldn't decide. My husband and I told her to wait. After all she has a job in the university and an apartment of her own here - she could save up money and go to visit soon. Her father promised if no one liked it that they could return. But who's to say he would actually keep his word? Who's to say he won't set fire to their passports as soon as they're on Libyan soil? Where they come from in Libya, not only is it expected of you to marry from the same region and city, it's expected that you marry from the same family. My friend's parents are first cousins who were arranged to marry. So who's to say that there isn't a cousin waiting for each eligible girl when they get there?

In a place to tribal, true Islam is hard to find. Yet her father kept insisting it is where their faith would be strengthened and they would learn to be real Muslims. By "real" I think he means learn to give up all independence. My friend said the women there have no ambition. They're greatest ambition is to produce the most babies and have the best drapes. She was even beginning to be completely annoyed by the close mindedness of her relatives from back home. She has dreams of becoming a doctor or a researcher, but they keep pushing her to get married, of course.

She weighed all the risks and annoyances, and decided it would be best if she stayed behind. After all, if he didn't allow the girls to come back, at least she'd be here to contact the embassy on their behalf.

Last night my husband and I were in a cafe with chatting with a new convert guy that we've been mentoring. My friend walked in with her face wet and her eyes red from tears. "I have some news for you," she said. "I'm going."

I'm sure my jaw dropped clear to the floor. I asked her what had changed her mind. She said her mother had called sobbing and begging her to go and refusing to get on the plane without her. She still said, "no" until her father got on the phone and told her she could return in one week if she wanted, on his word. She beamed, "this is the first time my father has ever come to an agreement with me on my terms."

I bluntly spouted, "- and you really think he means it?"

She shrugged. "I'm excited. I know, I KNOW it's a risk, but I just...I can't Amie. I have to go. Well, aren't you going to hug me?"

I stood to hug her goodbye biting back my tears. "Keep the embassy on speed dial," she said as she squeezed me tightly. "I'll miss you."

My memory flashed back to the night before I got married in the same cafe.

"Things are going to be different, you know," she said, holding back tears.
"No they're not! What do you mean "different?"
"We're just - not going to be as close, you know. And you're one of my best friends."
"We'll always be close."
"You say that now. We'll see."

Those words burned in me as I held her there. She had been right. I was so wrong. I got so caught up in my own life that when she'd call to hang out I'd turn her down a lot of times. Our daily coffee meetings which usually turned into all-day hang outs became weekly phone conversations. Those later turned into random Facebook posts of, "I miss you," and the like. What if I had been there for her like I used to be? Would she feel like she wasn't so alone without her family?

Of course, she's a smart girl, and I'm not going to be so arrogant as to say she's based her decision on my absenteeism. But how did she go from being so upset at her father that she left his house, to trusting him on his home field? The family ties are strong, and I'm sure she's feeling the pressure.

I called her after I got home. I couldn't hold back my sobs when I asked her if she was sure she was going to go and when she would be back. "Don't worry about me, Amie. You have enough to worry about. Take care of that bellybean you've got. I'll be fine."

She texted me today and asked if I wanted anything from the "homeland." I said, "I want you to come back. And anything else cool you can scrounge up."

Call me ye of little faith, but I can't help but imagine what their life is going to be like in Libya. Her mother, behind their backs, went shopping for all of them. She bought them each a wardrobe of black abayas because they need to leave their modest "Western" clothes behind. Already they're expected to shed their identities.

This time, I really hope I'm wrong again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

When the world just seems to be too much

Since I've gotten pregnant, and I'm easily upset by things, I've tried to steer clear of news media and other disturbing images. However, I find that pretty difficult as I'm pretty politically active and like to think of myself as being pretty aware of news events.

A few days ago, I decided to give in and switch on CNN. I was immediately greeted with Caylee, the missing two-year-old from Florida. Then, of course, was the Madrid plane crash. That was enough news to last me quite some time.

Much later that night, as I was sitting and trying to figure out what to do about my financial aid, the phone rang. Usually no one ever calls that late except for my sister or me, and they call our cell phones. I answered to hear a bawling teenage girl on the other end of the phone. She asked to talk to my sister, and I said she was already in bed. The girl then asked if I could please wake her up because it was important. I thought it was kind of rude and weird, as I assumed someone had just broken up with her boyfriend, or some other melodrama was afoot and just had to be discussed at that instant - but I did it anyway.

However, minutes later, my sister emerged from her room carrying a box of kleenex. Her face was red, her eyes bloodshot and her cheeks were tear stained. "Jacob hung himself tonight," she choked through her sobs.

Images of a little boy with goofy glasses and tufted, blonde hair running around the preschool parking lot with his friends flashed through my mind. I'm seven years older than my sister, so I watched the two of them grow up as friends. They even "went out" in upper elementary school for a while.

Jacob's family has been involved in a lot of business in the area, so they are well-known. His grandparents and our grandparents were friends, and they were our neighbors for years.

Jacob's parents decided to leave the area and move to Florida to pursue some other business venture. Jacob didn't want to leave, and I remember the big, sad, farewell among my sister and all of their friends when he left. I guess when he was in Florida, he fell into the wrong crowd and started using drugs.

His parents decided to move back to Indiana, but not back to Jacob's school. He had to start all over again, addictions and all, in a new place. A lot of the friends he had grown up with had changed for the better and had grown up, but some started using, like him, and, as I understand, misery loves company. His other friends tried to help him, but he wouldn't change. My sister, being the girl of standards that makes us all proud, decided to part ways with Jacob (and the rest of her user friends) until they changed. That was last summer.

Just like several stories always surround suicides, as people try to make sense of why such a senseless act took place, many stories surround Jacob's death. Some say he got too deep into drugs and his parents threatened to kick him out. Others say his girlfriend broke up with him. Still others say that all of his 'misbehaving' was trying to get attention for his parents as a call for help. Whatever the case, a seventeen year old boy died, and the rest of us will never have the answers we are looking for.

When they printed Jacob's obituary in the newspaper, his picture was of a strung-out, hollow-eyed, shell of a boy with his black hood of his sweatshirt pulled up. I still couldn't shake the memories of his smile and his laughter and the way my sister blushed when she talked about him when they were younger.

Earlier today, I watched out the window as the longest funeral processional I've seen in a long time passed by our house on its way to the cemetery. I saw the car with the family, and then carload after carload of teenagers followed with boys and girls with tissues in their hands wiping their eyes passed as other traffic respectfully pulled to the side . Some cars had "RIP JACOB - WE'LL MISS YOU" painted on the back windows. My middle sister was with me. I said, "Do you think he would have gone through with it if he would've known how many people really did love him?" Before she could answer, I burst into tears and bellowed, "What a waste!" and had to walk away.

I couldn't get myself to believe that such a clean-cut boy from such an upstanding family fell so far to the wayside. And what could have been so bad that it forced him to take his own life?

I know suicide is so hard because everyone blames themselves. And I wondered as I watched the family's car creep reverently down the road what his mother was feeling as she buried her only son today. Was she angry? Was she feeling guilty? Or was she simply in shock like the rest of us?

To be completely honest, I'm horribly scared for this little baby I have inside to have to enter this world. And I know I'm not alone.

The fear of discomfort of waddling around at eight months pregnant, and the excruciating pain of child birth completely pale in comparison to the fear I have about being a parent.

Everyone thinks, "what if I'm a bad parent?!," but now I'm starting to wonder, can anyone ever be good enough?

I'm completely overwhelmed with thoughts, and I know it's mostly because I'm hormonally imbalanced. But I hate it when I see kids from such a great family fall so far away from the straight path. I know things aren't what they seem from the outside.

But my mother, for example, was a "problem child" in her late teens and twenties. In fact, I was conceived out of wedlock when she was 16, but my parents married before I was born...and divorced before they were 18. I personally know my grandparents (as they've raised me) and what kind of parents they are - and they are fantastic.

I know deep inside that we, as parents, have to just do our best, and leave the rest to God and have faith that what we taught them is enough. The world is just too much, and that's where the faith part comes into play.

I'm starting to see why mother's cry when they drop their children off at Kindergarten. The fear of letting go is already creeping up inside me, and my kid is only nine weeks old.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why I seriously cannot stand community college

While I've been wanting to go to Purdue University to complete my Pharmacy degree, DH and I thought it would be easier and cheaper for me to attend a local community college to get pre-req.s and other nonsensical classes out of the way.

I know in my heart of hearts that you get what you pay for, but I guess I expected a little more from people who supposedly "value [your] education."

Back in 2003, right after I graduated high school, I was dealing with a lot of emotions: my mother had recently passed, my family was torn apart - big, big sob story. Thank God I've moved past it all. I enrolled in classes at the community college and decided I should better myself. We all know that emotions take their toll, and finances were running short for me, so I decided to take a full-time job and pursue my education part-time in another instituion. I dropped an entire semester of classes.

I didn't like the community college when I was there anyway. My classmates were usually high and forced to be there because their moms made them come. The instructors didn't really take class seriously. Unless you took just one class or payed out-of-pocket, they seriously treated you like you were uneducated, couldn't make your own decisions and like - well, a criminal. I can't tell you how many times I had to explain myself over and over that yes, I did understand that I had to actually come to class to receive credits, and this such. Plus, if you tried to get help with anything and they would point you in the direction of their oh, so NOT useful website for students which, to this day, lacks any and all kinds of real information.

Fast forward five years: I paid for my last semesters out-of-pocket, but with the baby coming and DH working his tail off to support all my our insurance needs, etc., I decided to apply for financial aid. I did all the early enrollment protocol, like they tell you to do. I provided all my tax documents, like they asked me to do. And when I requested status of my financial aid in early June, I was told they don't give any awards until July.

I waited until July. I went back to the FA office and was told I needed to provide my husband's tax information. Not a problem. Did it. I was told it would post to the website (*sigh*) in a few days, so I should continue checking in each day until it posted to my account. Several days passed. Nothing posted.

I made a phone call to the office because I needed to know what my award was, if any, for insurance purposes. I was told I would have to wait longer. I waited longer. I decided to check in in person to the FA office. I waited 40 minutes to see a counselor (who was chit-chatting it up in the back - in plain sight - with a younger, hot counselor). When I finally did get in, my "advisor" told me I was awarded a full Pell grant - even provided with with a financial figure, and that I should receive an award letter in the mail shortly.

No letter came. Today I checked the damn website. Nada. I drove 30 minutes to the campus to wait again, full morning sickness-ified in a hot, crowded, stuffy FA office. I waited another 40-45 minutes before he called my name.

I told him, "I just want to check the status of my financial aid. Classes start in six days and I just want to make sure I'm not washed out of registration."

A$$hole Advisor: "Well, it says here your financial aid has been terminated."

Me: "....WHA....? HOW?!"

A$$: "Well, you dropped out of classes in 2003. You have to maintain a 2.0 GPA or complete 2/3 enrolled hours measured cumulatively. You were terminated Summer of 2003. You were notified."

Me: "When was I notified?"

A$$: "Summer of 2003."

Yeah. Five years ago! I was dropped from financial aid from that college FIVE years ago. So what have I been doing all summer long? Running here, making copies there, dropping off forms in this, this, and that mail box? When did they think it was a good time to let me know that I have no funding for the semester?! Six days before it starts?!

If I would have known at the begining of the summer back when I registered, I could have fixed it, or at least saved up enough cash to pay for it. But no, A$$ would rather flirt with some chick than do his damn job, and so now I'm out an entire semester. The baby will come, God willing, in the middle of next semester - so that puts me a good two semesters behind.

I'm infuriated.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Attack of the preggo kitty

Did I mention that my cat is also pregnant?

My sweet, innocent, playful kitty turns into the world's biggest ho about three or four times a year. She doesn't really do the whole midnight howling thing (thank God), but she does offer herself up to anyone and everything male - and it's not an exaggeration. The dog, our other male cats (fixed), my husband, my husband's shoes, houseguests, this giant stuffed squirrel (don't ask) we have - whatever.

I was planning on getting her fixed over the summer, but I found other useful things for my cash like buying pregnancy tests and paying for books and tuition. My vet's fees are ginormous so I was going to wait until the fall when our community's cat clinic spays/neuters for $10. I thought she would be safe inside the house until then. However, when Kitty comes in season, like a horny teenager, she finds any and every way to sneak out in the middle of the night to play with the neighborhood boys.

I didn't really notice for a while. It was like her belly swelled up over night. She starting rolling around on the floor and following me around the house. At first I thought it was just a cute, little "preggies stick together," kindred spirit thing going on. Then I realized what was actually happening.

First, she started eating incredible amounts of food. If there wasn't enough in her dish, she'd walk through the house, squalling, trying to find me so I could fill up her bowl again. She started sleeping in the most comfortable spots in our living room - the recliner, the "nook" (as I like to call it) in our couch's corner, etc. etc.

It was fine, I thought. After all, I know what it's like to be living now for another being inside - and she probably has several swimming around it there. Plus, I thought since she was growing more rotund by the day, she's probably more uncomfortable, so I let it go.

But then as days passed, as my husband and I would sit on the couch watching a movie or whatever we were doing, she would always have to be between us. Uncomfortably wedged between us, she would purr away, loudly, as she sat, mostly curled into my husband's lap. I thought maybe she liked the warmth of our two bodies close to each other until I awoke from my aforementioned five hour nap to find her nestled tightly next to my husband. I thought it was weird, but I let it go.

It wasn't too bad until one morning, I was making cereal for the Bellybean and me, and the cat channeled some sort of Bionic Woman superpowers, sprang up on the counter and started viciously munching away at my Frosted Flakes. After that, every meal I ate was not only a battle between my gag reflex and me, but among Bionic Kitty, my gag reflex, and me.

Now, before I was pregnant, I had three basic rules for social interaction: you don't mess with my man, you don't mess with my money, and you don't mess with my food. Since I've become pregnant and the need to feed has become so ridiculously strong it makes me weak in the knees (literally) at times, and everything else is also way out of order, my rules have been reduced to one: DON'T JACK WITH ME!

I poured a new bowl of cereal, and took it to my room where I thought I'd lounge in peace and it. But no. She bolted through my bedroom door, tripping me (and spilling milk all over my boobs) and jumped atop my bed and sprawled out across the bed horizontally. Oh, hell no.

If I didn't love her, didn't respect her delicate condition, and wasn't such an advocate of animal rights, I would have drop-kicked her right then and there. Instead, I put her on the floor, where, I kid you not, she went immediately into my closet and started pulling my shoes out - like she was kicking my stuff out to make space for herself.

I took her out, made a box for her with an old blanket, gave her some food and left her in the garage for the rest of the day.

Call me crazy, call me cold, but the cat was trying to take over. And if there's one pregnant princess in this house, please believe, it's going to be me.

That was two days ago and I think she's gotten over herself. She hasn't tripped me or messed with my husband or begged me for food since the trip to the garage. Now she's sun bathing in the window - probably planning her revenge.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wow, Mommy's got a tummy ache!

"Morning sickness" is a complete misnomer. I realize the luckiest of the lucky ladies out there have never experienced the slightest gag during this most joyous of joyful times. As for me, I think I've only actually tossed my cookies about three times, but I spend the rest of my days with the impending feeling and/or bent over with dry heaves. Personally, I think, it's freaking worse.

I fell for the marketing and totally bought two packs of Preggie Pops. They're simply lollipops flavored with essential oils of natural plants. I have heard from several girlfriends that sucking on hard candy helps. I've also heard about crackers and blah blah blah - I barfed the crackers, ok?

In all honesty, Preggie Pops helped. I know they're just glorified suckers, but since it's really the only thing to works - they're awesome.

Today, especially, has been a rough ride. I woke up early to make my hubby breakfast, only to discover the smell of eggs cooking is absolutely revolting. Hell, the smell of the fridge (which is perfectly clean, mind you) makes me gag. I took a five hour nap (no joke) and awoke to find out that I still felt like crap. *sigh*

I tried to thaw some chicken for dinner, while retching, of course. My husband came to check on me to find me gagging away with my t-shirt pulled up over my nose. He laughed and told me to go get in the car - we were going to pick up dinner. I love him for that.

I hope tomorrow is better. I can't wait for month three!!

In other news, my pregnancy is no longer a secret, as I was going to keep it - at least until the second trimester begins. A girl I haven't spoken to in seriously six years some how picked up the news and plastered congratulations on my Facebook page. That was special. I hadn't even told my father yet.

My semester starts in a few weeks. I have tons of labs on my schedule this time, which I'm sure will be an extra treat seeing as how at least one is a biology lab. Please, Dear God, don't allow there to be any dissections. I don't think my tummy can take it!

Friday, August 1, 2008

This is me...for now.

I'm a daughter, granddaughter, working member of society, a sister, a pre-pharmacy student, a new wife, and I just found out, last week, that I'm going to be someone's mommy as well.

The news came as an absolute surprise, though, looking back, I shouldn't have been so surprised. Birth control pills made me ill, and they hurt even more in our wallet as we were (at the time) not insured. Having an irregular cycle, I mistakingly figured it would be more difficult to conceive. Thinking it was relatively "safe," we used "safe days" and I decided to ditch the pill and "see what happens." Well, we all know what happens: Baby makes three.


The morning I found out I was in the family way, I awoke, late for class. I panicked for a few seconds, but decided to skip anyway and make DH a more-than-the-normal-cold-cereal breakfast. Something in the back of my mind somehow reminded me that Aunt Flow had delayed her visit for longer than usual, so I decided I should probably take a moment to wizz on a stick.

Now, I have taken many-a-negative test since I've gotten married, seeing as how, as aforementioned, I'm irregular, and while on birth control, I had to test nearly every month to make sure I wasn't hosting a bun in my oven before starting a new pack. Because of this reason, I usually keep a spare test, or two, under the bathroom sink.

This particular morning, I dug out the box from behind the extra TP, opened the little fruit roll-up-esque package, tested, and watched, like so many other mornings, as the result faded from white to a light blue, single, horizontal line.

I tossed the test, made a spectacular breakfast, and got ready for the day. As I revisited the bathroom to brush my teeth, I looked again at the test. (Call me OCD, but I usually look at it two or three times throughout the day - just for good measure.) I noticed that while the negative result did show, the little "control" window contained zip. Not even a hint of blue.

I drove DH to work and kissed him on the cheek as I dropped him off. I didn't clue him in to the information I was harboring inside. We had a pregnancy "scare" (though I hate to use the word "scare" - it's not a horrible thing, after all), soon after we were married. After the test proved to be a negative result, I could see that he had been excited, and was now let down. I didn't like to see that deflated balloon look in his eyes, so I decided from then on that I would only tell him if the results of future tests were indeed something to be excited about.

I needed to visit the pharmacy anyway, and as I passed the family planning aisle, the same annoying voice inside told me I should probably re-test. My sister was with me, and as we stood looking at the vast array and variety of tests, confused, and in a moment of panic, I snagged three different tests off the shelf.

Back home, I chugged 44 ounces of lemonade and decided to make my way into the bathroom for the first test. I waited and expected to see a negative result, as usual. As the second, vertical line appeared, I felt my pulse throb in my body and my breath catch in my throat. I ran out, grabbed my sister off the computer chair and dragged her into the bathroom to look at my pee stick. The result was, in fact, positive.

I immediately began hyperventilating and laughing at the same time. However, the giggles soon turned into uncontrollable sobbing as the gravity of the situation hit me. I. Am. Pregnant. I am pregnant, my husband and I are both in school, and we are basically broke and live at home.

I cried. I cried like a little baby.

My other sister soon arrived and provided me with some soda to produce enough pee for the other two tests. I know the first one was probably sufficient, but I had to be convinced. Of course, the other two proved to be positive.

While I made my sisters swear that they wouldn't tell my offspring, "Mommy cried for two hours when she found out she was going to have you," I tried to plan a nice, romantic way to tell my husband he was a father. But when he got home, he was tired from work and just wanted a nap. I decided there was no better method than simplicity at this point, and I handed him the sticks so he could see himself. At first, I don't think he realized what they were, but he caught on soon. He laughed, covered my face in kisses, and then made fun of me for taking three different tests.


I now find myself trying to redefine my roles and figure out how I plan on surviving Pharmacy school avec baby and husband. My husband is wonderful and loving, but he'll be just as stressed with his work and education as I am, so I know I'll have to shoulder a lot of the baby stress.

I believe babies come into this world, and if you look hard enough, and work hard enough, they provide their own means of shelter and food. I'm not worried about cash for the first time in my life. I'm worried about balancing everything else, and on top of that, being a good parent! I guess I have another seven months or so to figure it all out. But for now, here I am.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Eggo is Preggo

For sheezy. It's true. I'm gonna have a baby inshaAllah. Yay!

That's all the updates for now (as if you needed more, cheeky monkey). More to come.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jobs Do Not Mean Cash

DH got a new job working as a geek in an electronic store (hint: it's the BEST...or not?). Go him! This is his temporary/summer job until we figure out how in the hell we're going to afford tuition for both of us. WOO!

I hope to get a job hawking knoc-off designer sunglasses at a kiosk in the mall. It's not exactly glamorous, but it pays and it doesn't exactly pay the bills.

When gas costs $4 a gallon, and we live approximately 20 minutes away from our respective jobs (as they're pretty much right next to each other), plus making it to my classes and doing whatever else needs to be done, we consume about a quarter tank of glass in two days. Wow.

For fellow nerds, please observe the following calculations:

Combined, we make about $400 a week or $1200 a month. This is pretty average for married students' income (from what I hear).

Gas = $4 * 16 gallons = $64 a tank

1 tank * 1.5 tanks / week = $96, round to $100 a week

$100 a week in gas = $400 in gas a month

Food for DH and Amie = $20 approximately per day (this includes eating out and/or groceries)

$20 / day * 7 days = $140

$140 * 4 weeks = $560 a month....

And so fricken on.

In these times, how in the world are we supposed to save money? We don't even pay "rent" per se. We just chip in with bills and groceries.

In August, of course, we have some serious tuition going on. What are we supposed to do then?

SO frustrated.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Time Flies


Wow! It's been a month since I've blogged. I miss the blog-o-sphere, so while I don't exactly have huge events to describe, I'll update.

Studying for Tests: A Ponderment

I find it rather strange how we treat the people different circles in our lives. For example, I know beyond any shadow of doubt that my husband loves me with all his heart. But when we sit down to study (He's way better at math than I. Being his wife I feel I have the right to solicit free tutoring.), he loses his patience with me very easily. However, he can sit with my grandpa and teach him the binary code for hours and be cool, calm and collected. While I still chewed him a while for his treatment of me, I had to sit and reflect about how I, too, do the same thing to people around me.

It seems the people closest to me, I tend to lose my patience more. Is it just saving face, or a huge test that I fail over and over again? Shouldn't it be that I keep my cool a lot longer with people who love me, support me and pick me up out of the gutter when I tend to place myself there rather than spend time kissing the general public's derriere? While it's much easier to deal with someone you don't have to take home with you, I think it would be a much happier home if we had the same long-tempered fuse that we use once we leave our driveways.

Pharm Girl: A New Blog
As I'm beginning my Pharmacy schooling career inshaAllah, I also want to make a blog specifically for the trials and tribulations at the Pharm. I'm most likely going to use wordpress for this endeavor, (though I haven't yet decided) and I will post my address here when I make it. I will keep this one for personal ventings, and use the other for strictly Pharmaceutical news, Pharmacy school and world health related issues.

Hard Hat Zone
Construction is well underway for Chateau de la Guinea Pig. I felt sorry for our small loveable rodent living in his tiny abode, so I decided to hit the interweb to check out a new pad. I was more than overwhelmed at the price people expected me to pay for a habitat for an animal that, while I love him dearly, I got as a gift.

I checked out Ebay and discovered the a store specifically dealing in "custom-made" guinea pig cages, but check out the cost for one of decent size: $114.

Holy shinto. I think not.

I started to study what they were actually constructed of. Remember those cube, snap together shelves we all had in our rooms when we were kids (or at least knew people who did)? Plus a little corrugated plastic, and I do believe kids that you have exactly what's listed in that Ebay store for half of their price. *witchawww*

Friday, May 30, 2008

RE: The No-No Sisterhood

I prayed and pretty much waved goodbye to my social life and reputation (if so be the case...), and sent this message to all of my contacts on Facebook:

Salaam, Ladies.

InshaAllah I really hope all of you are enjoying your summers by now.

I grew up in this area and I was well aware of the hundreds of churches in the area and the two Jewish centers. I had never heard of or even fathomed that we had a masjid here. While I don't blame anyone, I think it is largely due to the fact that we are, by nature, drawn to those most like us. Once we find that group, we seal ourselves off from the outside world, and carry on. Therefore, we do not make our presence known or allow others to join.

If you've been involved with the college-age girls [here] for any length of time, you would notice that it is an extremely clique-ish atmosphere with an "us" vs. "them" mentality. Really, if you don't see it, you're an "us" or "them" or don't have your eyes opened wide enough.

This has something that has been heavy on my heart for quite some time, and I speak to myself before I speak to any of you when I say: Something has got to change.

In high school, I was the girl who was friends with all the different groups, and I find myself in the same circumstance at this time in life today. For me, personally, I go where invited - meaning, if someone calls me up and I'm free, I go. I like having a wide variety of friends and like to hang out when I have time. During those times, I have listened to girls who most of you don't know talk about how they came to the masjid or some function and found it uncomfortable, unfriendly or found themselves completely ignored. (Most were even converts like me.) I have been in conversations where I have heard one girl explain her utter disgust for another and vice versa. I've heard groups collectively criticize others. I've heard ladies talk about how they feel so alone on campus. There are girls who walk across this campus every day seeking someone to be with, yet they have no one. All of it is rather tragic.

Most of Muslim women are away from their families. Everyone should have a strong circle of friends to rely on. As women in Islam, it is especially our duty to destroy the stereotypes that bind us. But none of this can be achieved with such disunity. We have the power to change if we want to.

While most of you consider Purdue your temporary home, you were placed here for a reason. Allah puts us places in our lives for specific purposes. It may not just be to get your degree and leave - but you could make an impact on this unique community. We should thank Allah for the opportunity he has given us to meet so many of our Muslim sisters from across the globe.

It is merely impossible to assume that we will never have arguments or disagreements among us, or that we will forever be best friends. But we could be cordial. We could be civil. We could treat each other as Muslims should treat each other.

Please think over the summer, and delve into some serious soul searching and introspection. Pray and think about how we can change.

Please consider the following:

- Forget your grudges. If you're upset with someone, confront them in a loving manner or simply drop it.
- Think of ways to better reach out to other Muslim girls on campus and put those plans into action.
- Be more aware of what you say to someone and how you say it.
- Be more aware of how you speak of others.
- If you need to seek forgiveness from someone, then do so.
- If you should apologize, then do so.
- Pray for guidance.

It is definitely easier said than done, but should all put our differences aside and realize how sad it is that in a community so small we have such division and how we have people feeling uncomfortable and judged among their Muslim sisters. I would love, over the next year, to see us, as ladies, go out, do things and get to know each other.

If you feel comfortable and among friends in your life, alhamdulillah, I'm happy for you. But please keep in mind there are sisters who do not. Please make du'a to keep us closer together.

Please keep in mind:

"11.) O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one's brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: "O sinner", or "O wicked"]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrongdoers).

12.) O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful." - Surat 49. Al-Hujurat

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Chapter 15. Hadith 2025
"Narrated 'Aisha (ra) : Allah's messenger (saw) said: "Be calm, O Aisha! Allah loves that, one should be kind and lenient in all matters." [8:35-O.B]

Take care. Have a great summer, inshaAllah.

Asalaamu alaikum,

Thus far, I have gotten only one response from a girl who feels just like I described in the letter:
May 29 at 10:04pm
Amie .. I love you for your courage .. and I am glad I met you .. :) .. see you soon .. iA

:o) Well, that's a start.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The No-No Sisterhood

When I converted, I knew that I was giving up more than a religion. I knew once the news got out, I would alienate an entire group of people that had come to be my family over the years. I took comfort in the idea that I would soon replace my Christian family with a Muslim one who loved me just the same. However, my journey turned out to be a bit different.

I soon found that, in my community, I was at once a beloved novelty and someone to be avoided. After all, I still had to shed my American ideals before I could be fully accepted. I was routinely passed over at holidays as invitations to dinners were handed out. I would sit alone in the masjid during the khutbahs. I was alone. Simply alone.

Eventually I realized that I would have to be the one to venture out, just like any other time in life, if I wanted to really make friends. I joined MSA and a few other on-campus groups, and eventually did gather a group of friends.

Unfortunately, we live in a small community and our MSA was governed by the MSA brothers. This meant if the sisters wanted to do something, they had to pass it through the brothers first. And also unfortunately, the MSA brothers' president, was controlling almost to the point of being anti-Islamic. He was a dictator and made incredible standards for us.

For example, the dorms asked us to come and give exposure talks about Islam to better educate the residents who would be starting school at the university. The idea was the break the cultural barrier. The brothers' president granted our request (can you hear my eyes rolling?!), but told us that if we went, we had to wear no make up, no perfume, socks, flat shoes, black abayas and black hijabs to "better portray" the modesty of Islam.

Umm....I don't wear that sh*t on a daily basis. Why does dressing like I'm the fourth wife of an oil tycoon in Saudi Arabia help me be a great example of Islam? I understood the idea of putting on a hijab, but that doesn't exactly fully paint the portrait of a muslimah, does it? It's about demeanor and modesty. Yes, modesty is important. However, dressing ourselves in bags is not going to give a comforting idea of Islam to a bunch of Midwestern American chicks.

We decided after that to start a group of our own where we could be free, as women, to decide how we wanted to be portrayed. We started the group UMWA - United Muslim Women's Association. Even the Masjid Girls were all for it - until the brothers' president basically made a fatwa against UMWA accusing us of blatantly causing division. Since the Masjid Girls' leader of the pack had a crush on the president, she told her friends not to join UMWA - thus really creating division.

There were several girls who were in with the Masjid Girls as well as UMWA. We were basically told by the Masjid Girls to choose sides. The leader of UMWA became public enemy number one, and that brings us up to date.

UMWA has since become rather defunct, and the Masjid Girls have married off and/or moved away for the most part. All was going rather well, or so I thought, until a few weeks ago.

The former UMWA leader had her engagement party. It was a blast! We were all dressed up gorgeously and danced the night away in a privately rented club house. Some of the girls later went to a Middle Eastern cafe. Some girls smoked sheesha, some sat around and had some laughs, but an all-around good time was had by all.

However, when the pictures were posted on Facebook, the trouble began. The Masjid Girl, who has now moved to UCLA, found it her duty to message the girls in the photos about how "haram" their sheesha smoking was, and continued to pretty much tell them they weren't Muslim anylonger.

Note: How pathetic does your life really have to be that you spend your time stalking on people's pictures on Facebook looking for ways to call them out?!

Anyway, it really rocked me. I can't believe the blatant hatred between Muslims. Check out any Muslim forum and you'll see the hate-filled words slug across the pages. Why is it that we have lost the one thing that binds us so? Brother-, and in this case, sisterhood.

It makes me sick to know that not only does the media smear our reputations, but we do it to each other. Sure, we should definitely, gently, remind each other of what's right to do - but not come across in shear hatred. We should not sit and wait for someone to slip up so we can cut them off at the knees.

Ugh, I have no more words. Please stay tuned for my response to this bullsh*t.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Culture Clash

I guess you could say I've always been interested in other cultures. I was always the kid who made friends with the foreign exchange students and hung out with them. As most American high school students can't even find the countries in which we wage war on a map, I was the one my friends always liked to listen to when we did those lame country oral reports on such "exotic" places as India - and I learned it all from my "foreign" friends.

I like to thank that I am a living example of how beautifully (...tee hee) cultures can come together. My parents, of course, were both caucasian and born in the U.S., but they came from very different families with very different values and traditions. I learned to celebrate diversity at an early age.

When I converted, I had spent years doing comparative theology study Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I chose to leave Christianity for Islam based on my desire to live by its fundamental basis - I had yet to truly experience anything else. The Muslims that I knew at that time were American, Irani, Malay and Bangledeshi - all with very different opinions of culture.

However when I started to visit the mosque with the intention of surrounding myself with Muslims and gaining better Islamic understanding, I was schooled in the biggest lesson of culture in my life.

Each woman from each different ethnicity and nationality began to tell me how Islam "should be followed." Each was conflicting. Each confusing. They told me of how I needed to wear abaya/burqa/shalwar kameez. They told me I needed to eat dates/yogurt/rice/curry because this is the true Muslim way. I needed to don hijab immediately and marry one of their relatives back home so I could become a true Muslim. However, they all agreed: I needed to abandon my old lifestyle completely, and live as they said.

As painfully confusing and upsetting this was, it took me down a long path that lead me to regain solitude and dive into Islamic study alone. Which is why now, when someone begins to tell me about this or that, I demand proof - real hadith or Qur'an. How can I possibly really learn my religion when everyone's favorite sheikh is contradicting the next? Proof, people. PROOF!

Alhamdulillah, I befriended some true Muslims who accepted me just as I was and took the time to teach me real Islam minus all the, well, crap. I dove into Islam head first, and thus far, I think I've come up kicking.

While meeting more Muslims, I was, of course, introduced to more converts. At first, it was awesomely amazing. However, I began to notice a pretty disturbing trend:

-most met their husbands online
-most were unaccepted by their peers or family at home
-most had low self-esteem
-most would blindly follow their husbands without question
-most were unhappily married
-most had little to no REAL Islamic knowledge
-most had completely lost their identity as Americans and began to adopt their husband's culture

Now, I have no problems with meeting a spouse online - especially if you're looking and very serious about it. However, I do have a problem with men "preying" on young, lonely women and convincing them to accept Islam out of their "love" for them, rather than their love for Islam. I also have a HUGE issue with the man teaching HISlam rather than ISLAM. What do I mean by that? I mean teaching culture, not theology.

I have seen that most of these fellows teach their wives such things that would only benefit HIM under the premise that she is 'required by Islam' to do so - and the women do it. Why? Well, for that I blame both: I blame the man for his close-mindedness, and I blame her for having no backbone. In my personal experience, it is a HUGE misconception that the majority of Arab/Muslim wives keep their traps shut when they object to their husband's actions. There is a line between being submissive and being a doormat. From what I've seen, most converts have missed it.

As for their accepting Islam, I'm overjoyed to meet a fellow convert, but instantly equally saddened and enraged when she says, "Yeah, I did it for my husband." I'm saddened that she thought she needed to do so without personal conviction, and enraged at her inability to research for herself and for her husband's willingness to accept her doing so. That's not Islamic. Dawah by marriage - not a good idea. As soon as the relationship goes south (and in these cases, it usually does), the wife's failing respect for her husband is followed by her perception of the religion.

I'm okay with a Muslim man marrying a Christian or Jew. It's allowed. What I'm not okay with is him saying something like, "Yeah, I'm marrying her. I'll convert her." Wow. Yeah, I've actually heard this. So many Muslim girls are looking for husbands, and half the population is leaving to marry Christian chicks for visas. Wonderful tactics, fellas.

Once, I was actually told from a proposal that he decided to marry an American because the mahr, or dowry, to marry a Muslim woman is too expensive and he was happy that I already converted because it takes the work out of convincing me to do so. And while I understand, because yeah, in most cases, families ask for ridiculous amounts of cash, I don't appreciate being told I'm being settled for because I'm "cheaper," or that he would actually try to sell me Islam. Try again, Sparky. Needless to say, my answer to his question was, "hell no."

As for completely losing personal identity, I too have been accused. "Arabophilia" is a term tossed around to describe having an intense love for every and all things Middle Eastern from food to dress. When I first tried on hijab, my grandpa, trying to get a rise out of me, asked if I was trying to become "one of those ragheads." "Become" is the exact word. I'm not trying to become anything. I have already become in this world. I am what I am.

Though people tried to convince me that I needed to convert my individualism along with my religion, I've held tightly to things that are purely "me." However, t's not easy. Try going to a Muslim website (that is not of un-Godly expense) and find some prints in conservative clothing that are not blatantly ethnic (Arabic, Indian, etc.). Try finding a halal (zabiha) ribeye. Impossible.

With such influences, I can certainly see how some converts do become enamored with how their in-laws and spouses. After all, when you do marry someone, you two begin to mesh. To avoid complete institutionalization within someone else's culture, it requires open-mindedness and a willingness to learn. For most people, as with any thing else, it's just easier to do as your told, rather than make your own way.

As for me, I'm certain I haven't been Arabified.

How do I know? I still speak at a regular volume when on an international call. (Har.)

Thursday Randoms

As for those of you who read my blog (brownie points will be distributed later), you may have noticed that I deleted a few items. Something you must know about me: I loathe being censored.

DH happened to stumble upon my blog, and "expressed" how he disliked how much "personal information" I disclosed. We then had a "discussion" which lead to my, let's face it, incredibly brat-tastic erasing of anything containing his/our personal existence.

Do not be alarmed. We are now back to our usual state of marital bliss after I calmly explained how I hate being told what I can and cannot write about, and that I am a responsible adult that is discreet..................sort of. Nevertheless, we came to an agreement, and I am back!

However, sadly, I permanently deleted most of the goods. Those of you who didn't read it missed out. You snooze you lose, right?


Cats are sneaky. So sneaky that sometimes after you've thrown them out of your room three times when your husband is getting ready, they sneak in, hide underneath the bed, and lie in waiting for the precise moment to attack their victims.

Unfortunately, that was the case this morning. I'm sad to report that the bunny has not survived. My cat has this habit of playing with small stuffed animals. He apparently found one that plays a fun "cat and mouse" game (excuse the somewhat-of-a pun). The bunny wasn't eaten. He was just tossed around a bit too much.

I cried like a baby for about three hours. The bunny was later laid to rest in our back yard.


I got another job. I will now be raising funds in true telemarketing style for the university.

.....not excited. Looking for new job.


Yesterday, I had a way cool unexpected (well, no one gave me the message of their impending anyway) visit from my friend and her husband. I cannot WAIT for them to move close by!


I am officially well on my way to becoming a pharmacist. Scared? Hell yeah. I hate calculus.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bun Bun

I guess with everything else that's been going on, I failed to mention how DH and I rescued a baby rabbit from the jaws of the evil neighbor cat.

On Monday night, I was sitting on the couch, enjoying a repeat episode of Ace of Cakes when I heard the all-too-familiar scream of a baby bunny being eaten by a cat. How could I tell? As much as I love cats, I've had them all my life and have learned that they're heartless hunters. I've seen and heard many a baby bunny dragged out of his little nest.

Usually I have an internal debate about whether to let nature take its course or to interfere, but when I opened the door to discover the neighbor cat attempting to devour the terrified little creature, I beat it on the head with my flip flop until it let go.

I hate that damn cat.
I am not one to usually hate any animals, but when it's mean, hisses all the time, terrorizes the plant and other animal life in my own household, It angers me. Not to mention it shreds the trash bags on trash day so I have to go outside and pick it all up.

Back to the bunny.

I picked up the terrified little guy and inspected him for injuries. Surprisingly, there were no puncture wounds or cuts. SubhanAllah. However, his tiny back leg was all floppy. It was definitely broken.

I brought him inside and happened to find an old kitten bottle. I gave him some water and made a nest for him inside of an Xbox box.

I called up a friend that just finished his first leg of vet school and asked what to do about the bunny's injury. Knowing that I knew how to splint a human's leg, he said, "just do the same thing - only with smaller sticks." Great.

As many broken bones as I've had in the past, I can't imagine putting such an innocent little animal through such torture, but I knew it had to be done.

However, I procrastinated long enough to construct a small cage out of window screen material and spare wood I found lying around the garage. It's pretty good, if I do say so myself.

DH held the little guy as I held my breath and felt his little awkwardly placed broken bones. It had a lot of swelling, but I could feel them go back into place. (To be honest, I was feeling a little queasy at that point...) I wrapped cotton gauze around his leg. Then placed a half of a popsicle stick on either side of his leg, then wrapped it with non-stick tape.

He's didn't scream or writhe in pain. He hopped right back in his cage and ate some food.

And that's the story about how how I saved a baby rabbit, children.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Work is Boring

... so I find other ways to amuse myself.

I'm currently working as a temp in a diamond jeweler at the slowest time of the year. It's my third day on the job, but they haven't had a chance to train me because of people's days off, etc, and there is honestly not a whole lot I could be doing. How can I describe a typical day?

"Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late early. I use the side door - that way Lumbergh Mr. K can't see me. After that I just sorta space out for about an hour....I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work." (Peter Gibbons, Office Space (edited for accuracy))

  1. I listen to other people's conversations
An older gentleman came into the store to get his watch battery replaced. I only homed in on the actual words being said when J came back with his watch and asked if he had a cold because his voice sounded raspy.

"No," he said. "As I get older my voice gets deeper and more scratchy by the year.


"You know, " he continued, "I am the only person in my church that the music director has not asked to join the choir?"


"Yeah. During the summer months, since people go on vacations an' such, there is no choir. Last summer, when she was recruiting for the fall chorus, I sat behind her one Sunday in church and sang extra loud so she could be sure to hear the true quality of my voice. I figured that would take care of another year of her not asking."

2. When I'm too far away to actually hear a conversation, I narrate it for myself.

(I'm sure it's far more fascinating this way.)

3. I try to see how much sugar it takes, mixed with coffee, to make a supersaturated solution.

I ran out of sugar before I reached maximum solubility today. I'll try again tomorrow.

4. I Google friend's and acquaintance's names in true, stalker fashion.

5. I chew three or four pieces of gum at once and form dental molds - both top and bottom.

6. I create small, postmodern sculptures out of rubber bands, paper clips, and pen caps.

7. I find things I like in the case and go shop online to find affordable cheap replicas.

8. I stalk people on Facebook and leave obscure comments on their photos.

9. I see how much water I can drink without getting the swishy, sea-sick tummy feeling.

Current record: 54 oz. (Just 10 oz. shy of a gallon. In 8 hours. Gross. I mean...good for me. Whatever applies.)

10. I blog random a$$ posts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Civil Condescension

Perhaps I'm channeling a bit of Sen. Obama when I say this, but it's no wonder why people who are, let's say, underprivliaged feel angry about their situations.

Last night during dinner, my poor darling broke his tooth. Last summer, he had had a root canal performed on it, but due to the way this country treats immigrants (*grumbles*), and the fact that it's impossible to pay for health care in cash (*grumbles louder*), he was unable to have a crown placed on it - leaving it unprotected. He claims he is in no pain, but I'm sure once the filling begins to shift, he might be rather uncomfy and a little grumpy. This means we have to act fast and can't wait with high-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes that I'll actually land a job with decent benefits.

When looking for a fee-reduced clinic in the area, I happened upon two sites. The first site offered zero information about fees and services. The second offered my inspiration for this post.

Out of mere curiosity, I clicked on services offered -> prenatal care. Everything looked perfectly dandy until I read about what they like to call "baby cash." "Baby cash" is essentially coupons earned through acts of good conduct. Yes, just like the gold stars on the chart in kindergarten, moms-to-be can earn coupons to purchase things like diapers, wipes, and breast feeding items by the following:

  • Keeping clinic appointments
  • Keeping home visit appointments
  • Signing up for WIC (a baby food/needs voucher program)
  • Taking childbirth classes
  • Taking breast-feeding classes
  • Learning infant CPR
  • Early Head Start
  • Taking classes to learn English or to earn GED
  • Stop smoking
  • Visiting our dietitian or social worker
Hmm. Mayhaps I'm quite naive, but does a woman really need to earn coupons for free diapers as incentive (besides, you know, the small fetus sprouting in her uterus) to leave the cancer sticks in the ashtray? And since when does learning English make you a better mom? And maybe I'm paranoid, but let's not forget to mention the assumption here: since you are at the reduced-fee clinic, you are irresponsible and uneducated. I don't know about anyone else, but that's what the highlighted list items speak to me.

I realize that there are irresponsible women who do get knocked up and continue to live a reckless lifestyle. But for the vast majority of people visiting this clinic, their reasoning is they simply cannot afford $180 doctor's appointments every week. It has absolutely nothing to do with their choices, lifestyle or education level. 46.6 million Americans do not carry health insurance coverage, and who can afford to pay full price for nine month's worth of private OBGYN services and a hospital stay?

And let's say, for example, an expecting mother does need someone to look after her to make sure she gets the care she and her baby need. Does she really benefit by someone treating her like a child and spoon feeding her like this? She needs a mentor, yes. A support circle, yes. But she does not need someone micromanaging her every step, praising her for things she does that she should do anyway. It reminds me of finding my cat, Alex, in the litter box and telling him he's a good boy for not dumping on the carpet.

Perhaps I'm being way too critical of a much-needed service that doctors in my community are willing to provide. But, after reading their policies, I feel like they will judge me for an irresponsible and uneducated individual who has given up on all my responsibilities and needs someone to rehabilitate me to adulthood.

In society, it's much easier to pretend that people poorer and less educated than you are not as civilized. It's much easier to patronize than offer a hand-up. People in their ivory towers must never have experienced hardship, or they forgot the feeling. Life is full of seasons - and sometimes people just fall into the uninsured category by no true fault of their own.

Our economy has evolved into a system where the middle class has disappeared, and the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. For me, I'm in my twenties and trying to find myself and stay afloat while elevating myself in academia. I see people like my father supporting their families (he's not supporting me, mind you - but that's another post some other day). He hates his job, but can't leave or advance because if he does, he risks deflating his standard of living and losing the health coverage and benefits his family needs. This is the story for most of this country. The republican government, of course, only sees the suffering of corporations, and the "little people" are not important enough snag some attention. When they are noticed, a little cash is thrown their way in hopes they'll go buy some bread and keep their mouths shut for a little while longer. This ideology of patronizing the individual for their less-than-standard lifestyle trickles down from the Washington Big Wigs, and into situations like a community clinic.

There is no reason why someone seeking reasonably priced health care should be prejudged and treated in such a condescending fashion. I'm sure if they could afford REAL health care - they wouldn't bother with your stupid policies and elitist attitude. And if you really wanted to help, you'd skip the BS and just give them then damn diapers for free.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I know my husband loves me, but when he walks up and pokes me in a not-so-firm part of my tummy, it's just yet another daily reminder of how I really need to jump on the getting in shape bandwagon. Don't get me wrong - I'm absolutely an advocate for fitness, I just have a pocket full of specific that I bring up when it comes time to run around the track.

Yes, run. With the recent status of our economy (Thanks to "The Decider".....imbecile.), I lost my fancy schmancy job at the research park which has left me working odd jobs while searching for something that will actually pay the bills. Due to the government's bureaucracy and sloth, my husband, a tax-paying resident of the U.S. for more than six years now, is unable to legally work until his status is adjusted - which leaves me to be his sugar mama. Now that mama has no job, I can't join a gym, and that *sigh* leaves me to running.

As Spring has drawn the flowers out of their beds, it's also drawn a lot of runners to shed their winter chub. I have to admit I envy their grace and ability to continue without stopping to pant every thirty seconds. Ironically, due to my three years as a cross country/track coach in high school, I find myself criticizing joggers' strides or arm movements knowing full-well I'd be bent over ready to barf if I tried to compete. I would like to be able to run a marathon someday inshaAllah, and actually have dreams of myself effortlessly sprinting at full speed with no huffing, puffing, flared nostrils, red face or cotton mouth. However, currently in the real world, I hate running. In fact, while in New York a few Summers back, my naive Midwestern self arrogantly proclaimed to on-coming traffic, "I run for no one!!" Thirty seconds later I was hit by a cab.

I digress...

It's not that I don't eat healthy. I gladly fork out approximately $400 in groceries so we don't consume pesticides and antibiotics. We rarely eat out and if we eat fast food it's probably once a month. I also don't snack or eat excessively. My husband can't override his Arabness and is always telling me, "Amie, eat! You never eat anything." Oh, really. So that's why I shop the plus-size section?...

The problem is, I get discouraged easily, and I don't exercise. It's not that I don't like it. It's that I don't plan it, and haven't found/can't afford a gym that I like. Since I have to exercise at home or inside, I find excuses like, "There are too many guys around," "It's too cold outside," "the weather is on," "I heard there was a pack of wild dogs on the loose" - the list goes on and on. I purposefully chose an apartment with three flights of stairs so that I would force myself to exert a little more effort - I'm not gonna lie. And on top of that, I usually lose a few pounds, and celebrate by eating cake (or something). Then the pounds come back, they bring friends, and I'm the only one unhappy at the party. Or when I AM exercising, and a family member mentions my weight or something and I eat chocolate to soothe myself - did I mention I'm an emotional eater?!

Therefore, I've decided to just get over it. Someone once told me if you can run two miles you can run a marathon - it's all mind over matter. Since I do, one day intend on running one, I should probably get started now - considering my fitness level is probably one mile max (with a super-sized order of myocardial infarction). There's no reason for me to be overweight. I don't want surgery or pills - I want it to be through my efforts alone, and there's no reason why I can't.

I don't want to weigh myself because I don't see it to be encouraging AND (before you judge...) because I think it doesn't matter the weight. I have several thin friends who eat horribly and don't exercise - does their thin-ness constitute health? Probably not. Plus, my prime motivation is to look hot, fit into smaller clothes, and of course, be more fit. I eventually want to take on my one-hour-per-day runner of a husband in a foot race. Also, according to the American Heart Association, it's not weight, but BMI and inches on your waist.

So, in honor of Spring and Spring Cleaning, I'm throwing out my old attitude, and hopefully a few extra inches.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


As mentioned in my last post, I'm unemployed. My former job, which, at the time I considered my "dream job," was with a start-up biotechnology company as the Director of Sales and Marketing. Yes, an executive position, and yes, under the age of 25. The experience I gained was definitely a blessing, alhamdulillah, and I am thankful for that. What I am not exactly tickled pink about is the fact that they unexpectedly axed me (and others) with absolutely no warning.

Chalk it up to my, sometimes, naive optimism, I thought that I had job security, and I thought we would be safe paying off my student loans, bills and other debts. I wasn't as careful as I should have been with spending as I assumed we'd be safe having minimal savings - as aforementioned, I thought I was pretty much locked in. The higher-ups praised my work. They even wrote a letter to USCIS for my DH (darling husband)'s immigration papers with statements such as "she is a great asset to our company and we look forward working with her long into the future." They included me in big money decisions, and handed me huge responsibilities (i.e. managing both the marketing and sales divisions) What I didn't, or couldn't foresee was the CEO, who, mind you, is already in big business in orange juice (laugh all you want, he's a millionaire), and has the financial capabilities to drop a project whenever he feels bored, would get cold feet as soon as the marketing numbers didn't match his outlandish goals. In a nutshell, he dropped us like it's hot, withdrew his finances and took some major investors with him. This lead to downsizing, and so goes the story.

Unfortunately this trend is happening all over the country. People in business, especially in real estate, technology and mortgage, are getting the pink slip, and thus, not spending money. This in turn puts us in an economic recession - though the big wigs don't want to admit it...until their fifth Mercedes is repossessed and summer home in Newport is foreclosed.

Granted, it's not 100% the economy's fault that I didn't plan ahead. Ironically, the week I got laid off, I had a financial meeting with my DH about our need for less spending and more savings. (Duh.) Too bad I didn't think of that sooner. *sigh*

Since then, I've spent pretty much every day pounding the pavement, putting in my application all over the city. Executive positions, management, retail - TACO BELL - you name it. I even applied to work in horse stalls - you guessed it - shoveling poo. I've gotten every excuse in the book: "we're overstaffed," "you're overqualified (overqualified?!)," "we'll call you," - all a buncha yadiyaduh yakety schmack. I've had seven interviews, three of which were with staffing agencies, but I haven't heard anything in reply. The problem is while personal taxes are due on April 15, corporate taxes are due March 15, so no one will hire before then. I just picked a fantastic time to be laid off. Now I can start re-applying to all those places in hopes of finding something soon, inshaAllah. *sigh again*

So, today while watching CNN, a particular segment caught my attention. I've always loved Jack Cafferty's sarcasm, so I love to watch him with Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room. I've always said that one day I would post on his blog. Well, today was the day.

Apparently, At&t, America's largest telephone corporation is having a terrible time trying to fill 5,000 customer service positions they've decided to bring back from India. Terrible time, eh? So let's ignore the fact that 60,000 Americans lost their jobs last month - those are people who already had jobs and are now floating around the job market (i.e. moi). What about recent college/high school graduates? New immigrants.....anyone...
.Bueller? So the question is, what does it mean if At&t is having trouble finding skilled US workers?

I couldn't resist. I burst out my laptop and began typing away. Being frustrated with the fact that companies look at my resume and see that I'm educated and experienced, but still won't hire me, I can't believe the audacity for a huge corporation to come right out, shrug their shoulders and basically say, "Uh...sorry guys. Back to India I guess. Heh...heh..." It reminds me of when I'm too busy/lazy to look myself for a lost item, so I employ one of my sisters who inevitably, begrudgingly walks to the middle of the room of the assumed location of said item, takes a panoramic view of the area and comes out to say, "I couldn't find it."

Randall L. Stephenson (Chairman and CEO of At&t) goes on to say that he's worried about areas of the country in which the high school drop out rates are particularly high (sometimes 50%) and says, "If I had a business that half the product we turned out was defective or you couldn't put into the marketplace, I would shut that business down."

So we should give up on American workers and move back to India where the total population literacy rate is 61%? No, that's not a diss on India. I'm just saying, Mr. Stephenson, where is your logic? You're worried about high school drop out rates? I think not. (Tangent: How hard is it to sit on your can with a headset and answer a phone and follow the flow chart for trouble shooting on a screen? A child can do that. Does it really require a degree or even a diploma? So what do you mean "skilled" workers?) You're worried that I, as an American, will demand that you not exploit me, that you give me good working conditions, proper hours, and that you pay me the right amount for my work. That is what you are worried about, sir. Let's all be adults and tell it like it is.

My reply to, "What does it mean...":

"I think it means AT&T is not looking hard enough. I am in my twenties and an unemployed American citizen with an education and 5 years of solid management experience and I've been looking for a job for months with no luck. I know several others like me who need to pay our bills. We'd work for AT&T."

(Now that I've made my point, I must relish in the fact that my comment made it. Like I said, I'm a long-time fan of Jack. DH and I were watching and couldn't believe our eyes when my comment was read. YAY! Okay, enough. My 15 seconds of CNN fame are over. If you want to see, go here and look under "Interested to see which ones made it on air?" Mine is the second one down.)