Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, by YASMINE · 6 Comments
Outside the post office, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
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The man sitting at the table next to mine in the coffeeshop this morning left his fancy-looking sunglasses on the table as he was leaving. I glanced over and noticed them just as the shop door was closing behind his retreating figure—and just as casually glanced away, making no move to scoop them up and run after him with an “Excuse me! You forgot these!”
Luckily, he re-entered the coffeeshop just two seconds later, his glance falling unerringly on the table at which he’d been sitting. “Oh, you left your sunglasses!” I said, feigning surprise, and he smiled back at me sheepishly. But when he left again, my polite smile transitioned into the frown my father hates so much because it creates deep grooves between my eyebrows. “Your face is going to get stuck that way,” he always warns me.
These days, I fear what I’m really going to get stuck in is the emotional rut of stress and anxiety that’s plagued me for the past few weeks. My sleep is short and continuously interrupted, and I have cultivated a newfound reliance on the hated coffee to get me through the days, the caffeine making me feel only more anxious and jittery. My to-do list keeps lengthening, with no end in sight; for every item I manage to cross off, I seem to add five more. But what worries me most is mornings like these, when rather than rushing to help a stranger in something so simple, something that would require little effort on my part, I instead selfishly look away.
This is not who I am, nor whom I wish to become.
Tags: Conversations and Encounters · Resident Rockstar
Re-upholstered dining chairs at the PirateHouse, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
- from “Prayer,” by Carol Ann Duffy
In mid-July, home for the weekend at my parents’, I spent an entire Sunday helping my mother re-upholster our dining chairs. She regaled me with stories as we worked together, but her efforts at entertainment still didn’t make it the smoothest or lightest of projects. There were moments during the re-upholstering when I grew impatient at her stubbornness to fix things that couldn’t be fixed; moments when I was annoyed at the time-consuming task of ensuring the corners of each piece of fabric were perfectly folded without creases; moments I snapped at my mother and then was upset with myself.
By the end of the day, my hand was so sore from wielding the staple gun that I could barely fold my fingers into a fist. “Show me your hand,” said my mother, reaching out with hers. She took my hand into hers, pressed it lightly, and — since she’s been suffering from some minor health problems lately — I thought she was about to make me note yet again how hot or dry or arthritic her hands were in comparison to mine. Instead, she unexpected brought my hand closer and pressed a kiss into the center of my palm. “Make sure you rub lotion on it tonight,” she said, “and take some Tylenol.”
In the weeks that followed, long after the soreness had faded, my fingertips remained chapped and peeling. My nails were chipped, and my skin was rough to the touch. My ummy’s simple, tender gesture made me think more deeply of hands, and how easily I take them for granted. Just as for many other families, hands are the touchstone of my family’s heritage, used for the holy triumvirate of food, work, and prayer. I am most reminded of this during Ramadan.
Munching on deliciously cold cubes and slices of fresh fruit during our pre-dawn suhoor meal the other morning, my father told the story of how, as a child, he was accustomed to eating roti, Pakistani flatbread, wrapped around pieces of cantaloupe and melon. And some days, the bread served as wrapper for slices of raw onions instead. For those who were poor, onions were an inexpensive substitute for a full-fledged meal. His mother used to say, “Pyaaz ey tha niyaaz ey” — onions are an offering from God, a blessing, and worthy of gratitude. With her hands, she prepared special meals for my father, her only child — makkai ni roti thay saron na saag (cornbread with mustard greens), parathhay dripping with oil instead of butter, because they couldn’t afford real butter (ironic, because they owned cows and sold milk and butter, but needed the money too much to keep any of the dairy products for themselves). I think of my patient, self-sacrificing grandfather, whose work-hardened hands toiled in the family fields every day, working alone because my grandmother insisted that their son, my father, attend school and become educated rather than being relegated to a lifetime of harsh physical labor.
My mother’s stories, too, are about hands: her mother, a seamstress for the entire neighborhood; her brother, who hauled rocks in a tile factory until his hands were raw and bloody; her father, who drove horse-carts and then, blind in his old age, must have had to acclimate himself to knowing things by touch rather than sight in his last years.
The morning of my father’s onion stories, I stood with both my parents for the post-suhoor prayer of intention for the coming day’s fast. We huddled together, hands cupped closely so that each touched the other’s hands, loudly reciting the du’a: “Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri Ramadan: I intend to keep the fast today in the month of Ramadan.” I was reminded of my childhood, when my siblings and I would join our hands together and then pile our hands over our dadís, much like those Russian dolls, one stacked inside the other, big to small, culminating in the tiniest one inside. A pile of hands, joined in du’a.
One of my earliest memories is of the 3 of us reciting duía with our father; I remember looking down at our hands and marveling how like a bowl each pair of hands seemed. Then I looked up and asked, “Daddy, why do we make our hands like bowls when we do du’a?” He opened his mouth to reply but, before he could speak, I answered my own question with childish eagerness, “Oh! I know! Itís so when Allah sends us blessings, they fly right down into the bowl so we can catch them easily and not lose them!” I donít remember my fatherís reply — he probably laughed and agreed with my explanation. But even now, every time I join my hands together in supplication, I still recall the excitement with which I processed that childhood epiphany: hands as bowls, fashioned to receive blessings from God.
One of my favorite lines of writing about hands and prayers comes from G. Willow Wilson’s essay for the New York Times, “Engagement in Cairo”:
“Itís a strange feeling, praying into your hands, filling the air between them with words. We think of divinity as something infinitely big, but it is also infinitely small ó the condensation of your breath on your palms, the ridges in your fingertips, the warm space between your shoulder and the shoulder next to you.”
I think of all the hands I know: My father, who cradles geraniums and endlessly waters his vegetable garden, and asks for my help in creating constellations of criss-crossing strings to support the bougainvillea vines outside our front door. My sister, who uses paint to create masterpieces that spill warmth and vibrance into every home. My brother, who gestures widely and theatrically, whether on the stage or at the dinner table. My brother-in-law and my mother, who chop ingredients and mix spices and remove lids from pots to smell the fragrance of home-cooked food that fills our hearts as well as our stomachs. My friends, who hold and nurture babies, perform research experiments, highfive me, diagnose and soothe patients, hold me close on the rare occasions I cry.
And my hands? I’m not quite sure yet what they do. They write a lot (although not as often as they should) in precise, swooping (sometime angular and stabby) lines. They have taken photographs that I frame and proudly display on my walls. They type fast, and insist on correcting spelling mistakes that others would gloss over. They carry the to-do lists I scribble on my skin with permanent markers, and just recently made strawberry shortcake from scratch for the very first time. They know how to wield a staple gun, and caulk cracks in the walls, and hang paintings with the symmetrical, measurements-obsessed accuracy I inherited from my father. On the eve of my sister’s wedding, nearly two years ago, my hands helped hers in hemming silky Pakistani outfits by hand, when the sewing machine stopped working. I knew even then that that would be the sort of moment I would remember forever, once the hustle and bustle of wedding ceremonies and receptions had died down: our eyes tired, our hearts a little aggravated at this inconvenience, but our hands focused on carefully stitching wedding outfits in the middle of the night.
Y laughed at me last summer, “I’ve never seen a human being so intrigued by their own knuckles!” (This may or may not have been after I threatened to stab him with my sharp knuckles.) Actually, I’m most intrigued by my hands as a whole. They are, after all, the same hands that rested on my knees during prayers when I lived in Pakistan. So many things have changed about me in the seventeen years since, but my hands have remained the same: brown skin; raised, blue veins; short nails; light scars; and well, yes, sharp, bony knuckles. Every single time I look upon my hands in prayer, my mind rushes back to those prayers during hot summer afternoons and lantern-lit nights in the village. It comforts me to know they are still the same hands — if I could pray that way then, I still have it within me to pray like that now.
More than anything else, I associate my hands with prayer — which makes it all the more frustrating when I fall short in reaching out to and communicating with God. My prayers are both inward meditations and verbal invocations, often brief and spontaneous. But while I’ve been good about praying for others, I generally shy away from praying for myself. My hands, like the rest of me, are proud and strong and independent. I hate asking for assistance, whether carrying boxes up multiple flights of stairs or lugging groceries in from the car or asking God for favors.
So, while I try to keep God at the center of most of my actions and decisions, and while I like to think I am good at prayers thanking Him for all the blessings I have, I find myself lacking in other types of prayers, namely, those asking for help. Perhaps I over-think it (am I too arrogant, in believing it’s not necessary to ask because God will grant me what I wish for, anyway? Or am I too humble, in feeling I’m not worthy of making requests?). Perhaps I forget that God loves being asked for help, and that I should be humble enough to ask more often. I read somewhere once that Mahatma Gandhi had said prayer is a longing of the soul, a daily admission of one’s weakness. This is something I need to remember.
In these few remaining and most blessed days of Ramadan, I intend to use my hands for asking more for myself.
When He gives, He shows you His kindness; when He deprives, He shows you His power. And in all that, He is making Himself known to you and coming to you with His gentleness. […] When he loosens your tongue with a request, then know that He wants to give you something.
- from “The Hikam” by Ibn Ata’illah
Tags: Casa420 and Familia · Rockstar and Crescent
Table for two at the teahouse in Cordoba, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz
Today is my 30th birthday. On this wonderfully sunny day that I’m enveloped in gratitude for the life I live, I’m most grateful for those who most helped shape me into the woman I am today — my parents. As I celebrate my birth and my blessings, I remind myself to celebrate my parents first and foremost, for starting it all. Below is something I wrote for their 35th wedding anniversary last year, and never posted.
An Open Love Letter to My Parents, on My 30th Birthday
(Originally written for their 35th wedding anniversary on 10 June 2010)
[CONTINUE READING the rest of this entry →]
Tags: Casa420 and Familia · Resident Rockstar · Salaam Namaste
Sit together in yellow silence; Berkeley, CA, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
[Cross-posted at HijabMan.com.]
1. SORRY. Recently, I learned a humbling — and very important — lesson from a friend: to apologize for things said or acts committed in anger, even if the anger was justified. There is not much to add to this, but I will say that I — who thought I’d come such a long way since my inability to apologize years ago — still have much to learn. If I have learned in the last several years to listen more to my conscience and refine my sense of compassion and appeasement, I have also learned just how trigger-quickly I can lapse into cold, cutting commentary without regard for how words burn at the other end. I am remembering now other conversations of this past year, and how the outcomes may have been different if I’d been gentler — not only with the person(s) at the other end, but also with myself. In an effort to prove my own strength and independence, my own will and rightness, I do myself a disservice in times like these. There is beauty in humility, and it takes strength to acknowledge (and embrace or amend) one’s weaknesses and shortcomings, and pride is not pretty. (Note to self: Don’t be this guy.)
2. LAUGHTER. No matter the level of stress at work, there is always at least one moment of levity during each day. Sometimes, I find myself twirling ’round and around on the twirly-chair at my desk, lobbing sarcastic and hilarious jabs at my coworkers before throwing my head back in laughter so loud it can be heard all the way down the hall. At such moments, I think to myself, “I would miss this.” Particularly now that we have disbanded a bit. Our organization recently relocated, and my “department” has been displaced from the spacious office we all shared to a building where we each now have our own, separate cubicles. There is more privacy — but also less, at the same time.
AH paused sadly by my desk the other morning and asked with his best hang-dog expression, “Can you move into my cubicle? I miss you.” I laughed at him, of course, but then I realized it’d been far too many days since we exchanged our ubiquitous highfives, and I was tempted to pick up my laptop and go back to a shared workspace. That was, of course, before I remembered how AH borrows my favorite pens to jot down notes whenever he’s on the phone, and then promptly loses them; throws whiteboard markers at me whenever I tease him too much; swipes my food when I’m not looking; makes me re-send him emails he never bothered to open the first time around; and asks rhetorical questions like, “You know what we should do, Yasmine?” and then ignores my cranky, “No, I don’t, tell me,” and launches into grand plans and ambitious projects that we will have time for only in 57 years — and I decided my own quiet little cubicle was probably good enough. I might even be able to finally nap under my desk without anyone noticing.
3. HELLO, I SEE YOU. (i) I stepped out for lunch at one of the local cafes recently, and found that I recognized no one there. This was problematic only because Julie’s used to be such a vibrant source of community for me, not only when my sister was an undergrad at Berkeley and I visited her on campus all the time, but also during all those post-Friday prayer lunches with friends, and during the iftar dinners that Julie’s hosted for Cal students during the month of Ramadan. But the students who frequent the place have changed, and so has the management of the cafe, not to mention part of the menu.
I consoled myself by ordereing my usual chicken-with-basil stirfry (that hasn’t changed), and found a small table in a corner of the courtyard, where I sat quietly, scrolled through my phone, gave every indication of not caring that I knew no one, and wished the afternoon were longer so I wouldn’t have to go back to work so soon. But within just a few minutes, there was F at my side, with a wave and a highfive and a “How are you?” — and even as my eyes lit up in surprise and I smiled back widely, so happy to see him, and even before I could open my mouth to reply with my automatic, “I’m doing lovely! How are you?” — he added after eyeing me during just a minuscule pause, “A little bit stressed?”
“I didn’t realize it was so obvious,” I said, chagrined, and made a mental note to work on my poker face. F pulled up a chair, asked incisive questions, listened patiently as I talked around mouthfuls of food — and offered options that I found myself scribbling down on the closest sheet of paper. I left Julie’s smiling, realizing anew (because I have to be reminded of this over and over) that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes, to give voice to one’s anxieties, and to discuss strategies with others.
(ii) After missing two separate classes of grad school in two weeks, I dragged myself to campus, sitting silently through most of the discussions (guess who was behind on the readings?) yet inwardly excited to be back in the midst of such thought-provoking conversations. Most of us are working professionals, balancing a full-time graduate program with full-time jobs. We are usually on campus only for classes, and even a month-and-a-half into fall semester, I know that I, at least, have not spent any length of time building meaningful relationships with my classmates outside our weekly gatherings. So, it was all the more touching when, at 930pm as we rose from our chairs and began slinging our bags over our shoulders in preparation for sliding exhaustedly out the door, A turned to me and said simply, “I’m so happy that you’re here. I missed you!” It’s no wonder I texted a friend a month ago with, “Status: I just got out of class. I LOVE school. And I mean that as non-sarcastically as possible.”
Tags: (3)BeautifulThings · NineToFive outside the 925 · Suckool
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, by YASMINE · 22 Comments
A vespa the color of tangerines; Madrid, Spain, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
[I am slowly returning to writing again, and for that I have to blame J — who has somehow harassed me into agreeing to post snippets for the “3 Beautiful Things Thursday” category over at HijabMan.com — as well as everyone else who has been encouraging me to stop sharing my stories as mere Facebook updates and GChat statuses. So, hello, I’ve missed you! After so long, here we go again. -Yasmine]
1. VESPAS. The past week (or two) has seen a flurry of friends sharing with me photographs of the motor-scooters I love best, and it makes me smile every time. From Baji on her Barcelona travels, to M on the streets of DC, to Hashim traversing the internets and the Midwest, to Umar in the UK, the “Vespa” label in my Gmail account (yes, I have an entire label for vespa references!) has recently seen an unprecedented rise.
And I, who have photographed them in San Francisco and in Spain, am still always utterly charmed whenever I personally come across the familiar curved lines, or whenever an email appears in my inbox with the subject line, “So-&-so has shared a Flickr photo with you,” or whenever a friend tags me in a vespa photo on Facebook with a note that it made him/her think of me.
Vespas are smooth and shiny and pretty. Maybe if I stopped spending all my money on hot chocolate, I could save up for a vespa of my own.
2. MUSIC. During Ramadan, I focused on stillnes and silence, but in the last two weeks I’ve been catching up on music, and so my iPod currently features the following in heavy rotation these days: Neutral Milk Hotel, Talib Kweli, Pearl Jam, and Gil Scott-Heron (I am particularly enjoying shouting, “JOHANNESBURG!” out my open sunroof while driving). There is also Outlandish’s song to support relief efforts in Pakistan, via the Danish Red Cross; it made me cry.
And there was the Pakistani-Egyptian-Afghan wedding I attended last weekend, where I looked over to find my father quietly drumming his fingers on the tabletop in time to the Pukhto music. On the drive home, we listened to a cassette of songs by Sardar Ali Takkar, the mechanical engineer-turned-musician, my father’s favorite singer. “There’s the rabaab!” we shouted in unison at all the best parts.
Many of Takkar’s songs are based on the revolutionary poetry of Ghani Khan — who, in turn, is the son of Badshah Khan, known as “the Frontier Gandhi” and subject of one of my favorite books, A Man to Match His Mountains. The cassette in question is at least 20 years old; my father compiled it during my childhood, using two stereos placed side-by-side to record songs from one tape onto another. It contains most of my favorite Pukhto songs, even though I have no idea what they mean, and listening to my father translate for me this weekend, line by line, was a testament to his patience, his generosity, and his bottomless love for this language that is a summary of all that he is to the core. “God, why did you give me a heart and a mind, both? There is not enough room for two kings in this country,” Ghani Khan wrote in one inquisitive and mournful poem-turned-song.
“Do you like this song, Yasminay?” my father asked at the end of each one.
“I love it,” I said.
In a recent post, Amina Wadud writes about music in a passage I particularly liked:
Thatís the key, I think. The beauty. If music was supposed to be haram, then it should not have been so beautiful, so harmonious, so awesome. Music is its own affirmation. God made no mistake, but did give us yet again another grace.
3. “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” At a Robert Fisk program in Berkeley last night, a man seated nearby leaned over and asked me, “Are you French?” I laughed, and asked in complete befuddlement, “Do I look French!?”
“Possibly,” he said (he turned out to be Assyrian-Czech-Scottish). “You look like a mix of two things, and maybe one of them could be French.”
“No,” said the woman seated in between us, in a very definite tone (she turned out to be Iraqi), “she looks North African. Maybe Morrocan.”
“Maybe she’s French and Moroccan,” said the man. I laughed. Of all the ethnicities for which I have ever been mistaken, French has never played a role.
At the coffeeshop this afternoon, a White man standing in line behind me leaned over and said, “Assalamu alaikum!” I greeted him back with some slight surprise, and he queried, “Are you Egyptian?”
“Pakistani,” I said.
“I have Pakistani friends!” he said. “We have dinner at my home every Friday!”
I didn’t know whether to be confused or sad that I don’t look like his Pakistani friends.
And earlier this week, standing in the shade on the sidewalk after an hour spent lazing on sunny grass, I scrolled through emails on my phone — killing time before heading back to the office, of course — and a man with dreadlocks and a wide smile called out to me as he whizzed by on his bicycle, an unmistakable look of delight on his face, “Do you speak Arabic?” I looked up smiling. “Sorry, no.”
“Where are you from?” And even as I hesitated, he called back over his shoulder, “Pakistan?”
“Good guess!” I laughed in surprise after his retreating back, and yet his voice carried over from down the street now: “India?” Minutes later, I was still smiling — at his brashness and excitement in asking, at my confusion in replying, at his spot-on guess. And yet why could I not have said simply, “Here. I am from here. I’m from Berkeley.” My birth certificate says so, so it must be true. I, who have spent years wrestling with the idea of home and belonging, am still unsettled by this question every time — and yet, at the same time, I love the fact that I could be from anywhere and everywhere.
*NOTE1: Speaking of music, the title for this post comes from the song, Hello, Bonjour, by one of my favorite artists, Michael Franti. Go listen!
*NOTE2: Cross-posted at HijabMan.com
Tags: (3)BeautifulThings · Casa420 and Familia · Salaam Namaste
Public transport is ROCKING, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
ZB suggested one evening in Toronto that I should create a weblog-category based around BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), so that everyone can read all my stories of being hit on while using public transportation. The idea made me laugh, but I’ve taken it under consideration and created a “Travels & Travails category”—the latter because public transit is nothing if not drama sometimes, no matter how much I love it and no matter how much amusement it provides. (Seriously, does your public transportation of choice have ice cream carts? [And why was I not on the train that day?] Do you get to observe men having their goatees braided on the train? In short, I love the stories.)
Meanwhile, I present to you a (for now) short series of open letters to my fellow commuters—
Dear People Who Still Don’t Understand Right vs. Left:
A long, long time ago, Yaser referenced people like you in a short post filled with rage directed at those who don’t seem to understand the seemingly simple concept of “Stand right, walk left” on escalators. Seriously, people, get with the program. I hate having to elbow you when I’m trying to get to wherever I need to go. I like walking, and you’re in my way.
Even in airports, I eschew those moving walkways in favor of actually walking all the way across the airport to my gate. I wish you would do the same. And if you don’t want to, that’s fine, just please open up the pathway for me, so I can get by, dammit.
Plus, the sooner I get to Berkeley, the more time I have to swing by and grab a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream before heading into the office. Every single minute makes a difference—and, as Adnan established recently in Toronto, American minutes are longer than Canadian minutes. Stand right!
Dear Man with the Drama of Which I Wish I Knew More:
You provided my intriguing, one-sided BART conversation of the day, as you talked to an unknown person on your cell phone while riding the train from downtown Berkeley to MacArthur: “I just wanted to say, I was…I was happy that you pressed charges. Don’t hang up!” [Other person hangs up. Man pulls the phone away from his ear and stares blankly at it.]
That was such a cliff-hanger. It’s not fair. I demand details!
Dear People Who Always Want to Sit:
Stand up! If you’re on a bus or train and refuse to give up your seat to the elderly, the disabled, the pregnant, or those who otherwise look like they have a priority over you to the seats: You’re an asshole.
I have no other words for you.
PS: I hate it when you see such people boarding the bus or train and shift your glance away or clamp your headphones even more tightly over your ears, as if to imply that if you can’t see or hear them, they don’t exist and then you really don’t have to get up. That makes you even more an asshole.
That is all.
Dear Man Who Propositioned Me on the Train:
First of all, buddy boy, it’s a little early in the morning for such drama, isn’t it? There I am, transferring onto the Richmond train at MacArthur, heading into downtown Berkeley. There you are, already seated, looking like a young, solid, clean-cut guy, dressed nicely in a button-down and slacks, wearing glasses and those newsboy caps I like so much. You’ve got a stack of papers in your lap and you’re diligently marking them up and making edits, so I figure you must be a teacher or something. I end up sitting in the row behind you, you turn around just as the train begins moving, and the following conversation ensues:
Man: “Excuse me, does this train take you to Berkeley?”
Yasmine: “Yes, the Ashby stop is next, and then North Berkeley, and then downtown.”
Man: [Laughs.] “Oh, okay. I thought for a second I might’ve gotten on the wrong train.”
Yasmine: [Smiling politely.] “No, you’re okay.”
Man: “So. Are you seeing anyone?”
Man: [Jaw drops.] “What!” [Gives me the once-over—as well as he can, anyway, with a train seat between us.] “How is that possible!”
Yasmine: [Trying not to laugh.] “You know, I ask myself that question once in a while, too.”
Man: “Will you go out with me sometime?”
Yasmine: “Umm. I’m not interested in a relationship at the moment.” With random men on BART, I mean. Even if they wear those newsboy caps that I like so much.
Man: “Oh, well, I didn’t mean anything about a relationship.”
Yasmine: “In that case, I’m definitely not interested.”
I’m glad my decisiveness on that issue finally shut you up long enough for me to get back to my book. Seriously, though, yaara, does this really work for you? Hitting on women on BART, I mean? You should take some pointers from this guy, perhaps. I mean, he may have rambled on about gypsies and Egyptians, but at least he finally wore thin my defenses enough for me to smile quite genuinely at him, in the end.
PS: Thanks for providing so much amusement for our fellow passengers. Do you understand how many smirks I had to walk past when exiting the train?
Dear Pissed-Off Girl:
Your loud, disgruntled phone conversations all the way from the Pleasant Hill to the MacArthur BART stations (”I can’t believe that shit!”) kept making me laugh. Also, I kind of envy your lack of concern for all the head-turning you caused amongst your fellow commuters every time you screeched into your cell.
One more thing: How did you manage to get full-reception for the entire ride? I barely get a single bar, if I’m lucky, which makes me disgruntled because all I want to do on BART is send my friends textmessages about strange characters like you whom I keep encountering.
Dear Man with the Business Suit & BlackBerry:
I was so glad you were there when it came time to board the Fremont train and the man with the curly white hair and thick Italian accent shouted behind me, over the din of the rapidly-approaching train, “Excuse me! Downtown San Francisco?”
I looked helplessly at the Fremont sign, trying to recall BART-line configurations in my head, but then you came along, BlackBerry at your ear, and said, “Yes, you transfer at MacArthur.”
“MacArthur? Which train?” asked our friend.
“This one. I’m going that way, too,” you said soothingly. “Come.”
We all boarded together, and you—phone still in hand—pointed out to him all the relevant stops on the colorful map hanging across the carriage. When we got off with the mad crush of people at MacArthur, I craned my neck over the crowd, and saw you, tall and steady, shepherding him across the platform to the waiting San Francisco/SFO Airport train. I smiled to myself and ran down the escalator and back up another flight of stairs to catch my Pittsburg/Bay Point train on the next platform, all the while thinking about how awesome you were.
Dear Sweet Man with the BlackBerry:
I think I’m in love with you.
Tags: Conversations and Encounters · Travels and Travails
Post office errands, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
3 Beautiful Things, the downtown Berkeley post office edition
I. One morning, I was at the post office and somehow got into a conversation about languages with the woman at the counter who was helping me with my express-mail packages. And she told me that her now-29years-old grandson, almost 30, asked when he was 5 and they went out to dinner and saw a family who was communicating in sign language: “Mama Rita, are they speaking Spanish?”
And I, who have dreamed for years about one day learning to sign, couldn’t help but smile for reasons she probably wouldn’t have even guessed.
II. Another day, my co-worker and I ended up at the post office during our noon lunch-break, when, of course, the entire rest of the world who works in downtown Berkeley had the same brilliant idea. It was busy and crowded, our flimsy little ticket had the number 90 printed on it, and there were already 30 people in line ahead of us.
“God, I hate the post office,” I grumbled to R as the inexpressive employees at each window called people up one number at a time. There’s a reason why some consider visiting this post office to be equivalent to time and space travel to the Eastern Bloc, circa 1970.
No one got up, but people shuffled their feet impatiently.
No one moved.
“80!” shouted a man sitting on one of the benches against the wall, waving his numbered ticket in the air.
“80!” said the woman at the window.
The entire building erupted in whistles, cheers, and applause as the man raised his fists in success and victory-walked to the window.
Everyone around me was smiling as we watched the lucky man swagger across the room, and I was laughing so hard I could feel my face turning red. “This is why I…freakin’ love…Berkeley!” I gasped to R.
“It’s like they called the winning number, and he won the lottery!” she exclaimed.
III. One afternoon, just as I settled on a bench with yet another numbered ticket, I felt a light punch on my shoulder, and turned around to find Nipun at the post office. I gawked. I know he and Guri live in Berkeley, but to run into him outside our usual context of Silicon Valley was mind-boggling.
“What are you doing here?!” we both exclaimed.
In the midst of catching up, I told him about the organization for which I now work, and how it’s an exciting time to be at the place, since it’s going through some great projects and transformations. “So they brought in Yaznotjaz to handle it, eh?” he grinned.
“Yeah! And, dude, I’ve already got half the staff saying ‘rockstar’ and giving highfives!”
We talked about the Wednesdays, and I mentioned we’d just moved, which is another reason to add to my list of reasons for having missed months worth of the beautifully soothing Wednesdays.
He squinted at me uncertainly. “Who’s ‘we’?”
I laughed. “The parents and I, that’s all. No, there’s no one exciting in the ‘we’ usage.”
He looked disappointed, and I laughed again. “Find me a rockstar, and there’ll be a ‘we’!”
“Should I put the word out in the community? I’ll have to blog about this, you know.”
I left the post office still giggling, and when I slowly strolled down the block back to my office, I sighted a pistachio-colored vespa - my latest favorite - parked in front of the building, and decided the day couldn’t get any better.
Tags: (3)BeautifulThings · Conversations and Encounters · NineToFive outside the 925
Spoonful of Suga, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Sorry for the radio silence at this end, buddy boys. The Grand Move of 2009 occurred last month, and the familia and I are still settling in - not to mention still busy clearing remnants of the last decade out of Casa420. Who knew that, once we relaxed our nomadic tendencies and allowed ourselves to become too complacent in one place, we’d manage to stockpile so much STUFF while we were at it?
My internetS at the new house is still on crack, so things are a little slow at this end, I know, I know. Stories and photos coming soon. Meanwhile, the above photo is from a few weeks ago. D came to visit the new house, and then we spent the afternoon in a neighboring city, catching up over applepie & vanillabean icecream (me) and salad (D), ducking in and out of the charming (read: expensive) little downtown boutiques, strolling through the farmers’ market and finding ourselves at the waterfront.
This, by the way, is still something I marvel at every day - that the North Bay Area is all about water, and that we, the landlocked agricultural Pukhtoons, have somehow ended up in a city where we spend our days gushing over the views of the bridge and the bay and the feel of the cool breeze that floats in over the water.
I’d forgotten how much I love bridges until my commute recently altered so that I have to pass over one twice a day again.
During the course of our aimless wanderings, D, ever the resourceful penny-pincher, talked me out of buying a(n amazingly rockstarish) $70 skirt by taking me to the candy shop instead. And I - well, I was so blinded by the colors and all the sugar at my disposal, that I completely forget to protest.
And you. Your turn now. What have you been doing?
Tags: All-Star Crackstar Squad · Casa420 and Familia
Purple at Casa420, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Walking out of work the other evening, I crossed paths yet again with everyone’s favorite security guard, he of the 86,400 seconds in a day.
As I strode past, he called out after me, ďPurple is in!Ē
I turned back, confused. ďOh?Ē
ďYeah! Didnít you know that? Purple is the color of the year!Ē
I laughed. ďWell, clearly Iím off to a good start, then!Ē
This exchange, albeit brief, got me thinking about my style, which rarely follows the latest trends. I like wearing dark nailpolishes even in summer (on the extremely rare occasions I can actually manage to be non-lazy enough to paint my nails), and I hate skinny jeans, and I never know anything about the color of the year. On this particular day, I was wearing a pink dress, jeans, red shoes, and a blue-purple headwrap.
I have a lot of scarves, all organized by color in a dozen clear drawers for easy reference. Approximately thirty seconds of every morning are spent trying to figure out which scarf to wear; if I’m running late (as I usually am), I strategize this while in the shower.
Shoes are secondary. I never base an outfit around shoes, which is probably why I wear the same two pairs over and over. My main rule for shoes (except for fancy-schmancy high-heels which I wear to weddings or professional events and then promptly take off in the parking lot afterward) is based off this simple question: Would I be able to spend a day walking around the City in these? Granted, I’m not in San Francisco all the time. But any shoes that can withstand a day-long session of meandering through city streets (whether Berkeley, DC, Toronto, or Toledo) and up and down steep inclines (oh, hi, San Francisco and Granada and Fez) are the ones I want — and so far this has always meant flats and flip-flops. I may be short, but I’d rather be short and comfortable.
My only rule for pants of any sort: They must flare out from the knee. The wider the flare, the better, which is why I lovelovelove bell-bottoms.
A couple of years ago, my boss at my last job once scrutinized my outfit, head cocked to one side, and asked, “So, can you explain to me the thought process that goes through your head every morning when you’re getting dressed?”
I glanced down: Red dress, dark-pink tshirt, black cargo pants, my favorite gray sweater, unzipped. “What’s up with the way I’m dressed?”
“Nothing,” she said. “It’s just that I would never have thought of wearing those two shades together, but somehow you pull it off. And the headwrap just pulls it all together. And the earrings!”
Like much of the rest of the world, I, too, roll out of bed in the mornings after hitting ’snooze’ too many times and stumble bleary-eyed towards the closet. Some days, the “What should I wear?” question is so overwhelming that I just opt for the most reliable combination of items. There are several things I wear together over and over, because I know they work. Other days, I spend a few extra minutes on this. But regardless of how long it takes to pull an outfit together, rarely do I not make the effort to get ready — even if it’s the weekend and I’m just going to be sitting on the couch, watching old Hindi films. I love pajamas just as much as the next person — but only at night.
And, of course, there are a few “rules” I swear by. Here, then, is a little bit of my methodology, for those of you who may be interested as well.
[CONTINUE READING the rest of this entry →]
Tags: Conversations and Encounters · NineToFive outside the 925 · Resident Rockstar
Tangier, Morocco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Those of you who don’t follow my Rockstar Links & Things over at tumblr (and why do you not?, is the question) are missing out on some lovely reminiscing going on today, so I thought I’d cross-post for you here.
If you click here, you can hear the Adhan [Islamic call to prayer] as recited by Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens. Someone named aberjona posted it to tumblr with the following comment:
Awoke to this this morning. If I lived closer to the mosque I might feel differently at 5 am, but echoing over the wet rooftops, this sounds divine. Especially when I consider what other sounds Brooklyn manages to produceóanywhere, anytime.
bagcoffee responded with:
Atlantic Ave is one of the strangest and most amazing places in Brooklyn, if not just in downtown Brooklyn. Itís not just the ever-present Muslim community who populate the shops, sidewalks, and mosque. Itís the mix of everything and the Ďif youíre not paying attention youíll miss ití environments of city. When the mosque broadcasts the call to prayer, everything just stops and you remember your in a city thatís not just full of your expectations and experiences. There is something here thatís bigger than you. Itís bigger than your selfish desire.
I donít think you can say youíve lived in Brooklyn (or at least visited) and not heard the call to prayer at least once. Itís something stirring and more moving than anything else you can conceive of in this city.
Living in Egypt this becomes almost background noise, but sitting at the Pyramids at sunset and listening to it spread across Cairo and Giza was amazing. Same effect sitting on the walls of old Jerusalem on a Friday as the western part of the city starts to go silent and the Azhan starts to rouse the eastern.
Okay, now Iím homesick.
And I chimed in:
you all made me smile so much with your comments/reflections on the adhan. thank you. =)
even my little village in pakistan, where i lived for 18 months as a teenager, was filled with a dozen different mosques, and 5 times a day the call to prayer would come at you from all the corners of the village and reverberate throughout the neighborhoods. it was beautiful. when i visited morocco a few months ago, it was the same way, and i felt homesick all over again, too.
when i first converted, i lived in a city with a decent Muslim population and the adhan was called and could be heard in the houses. it was so beautiful and wonderful to me. i miss being surrounded by Muslims, not only for the loss of hearing the adhan (well, okay, i have it on my computer but thatís just not the same) but for so many reasons. the adhan exemplifies that brother/sisterhood to me, calling everyone to the prayer where we are all equal and stand & bow together before our Lord. i think of the story of Bilal, the first one to hold the job of making the call to prayer, and i can imagine what it must have been like in Medina as the ďnewĒ Muslims gathered together.
Fes, Morocco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Tags: Links to love · Rockstar and Crescent · Salaam Namaste
Aaaand…here’s a screenshot from my getting-taxes-done process! It felt good to get this done early this morning. Yeah, yeah, I was one of those who waited until the last minuteÖand then fell asleep over my laptop at 1am right in the middle of working on the tax dramas the night before the deadline. Anyway, itís done and DONE - and I have a REFUND coming soon! Dudes, what should I do with it!?
Gelato and french fries and blue raspberry slurpees are already on the list, it goes without saying. I could also buy stuff from my Amazon wishlist (which consists mainly of books, of course), or my Favorites section on Etsy - half of which items have already been sold or have mysteriously disappeared, as you can see. Reeeeeediculous. I should also invest in a dSLR this year, maybe. And travel somewhere suitably rockstarish. (And the next smartass who harasses me with comments like, “A dSLR and traveling? But why would you want to do that, if no one ever gets to see the photos anyway?” is going to get stabbed with a plastic fork. Plastic forks take longer, and hurt more. Just so you know.)
Tags: Glorious mundanity
Serenity at Santa Cruz (ii), originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Some friends and I are going to be in Santa Cruz this Sunday, hanging out in the sunshine (and there damn well had better be sunshine, or I shall be pissed). I sent out a reminder email a few days ago with the following Highly Important Questions:
WHAT CAN YOU BRING TO EAT?!
K has already promised to bring me homemade boulani, which makes me giddy like you wouldn’t believe.
A couple of years ago, I wrote:
Thatís it. When spring is here for sure and the weather stays consistently warm, Iím heading down to Santa Cruz for some sunshine and sand.
It’s that time of the year again, and I know I must have been in Santa Cruz a couple of times since then, but I can’t recall - which is as good enough a reason as any to go back to play on the beach. And I just bought two new memory cards this evening (that brings the grand total to six now, I believe, which seems kinda ridiculous), which means I shall spend the next few days taking photos again, too. It’s been a while. (Note: It’s never a good idea to go to any electronics store the day after you’ve been paid. Flush with money, it’s so hard to resist the lure of those sleek and gorgeous dSLRs, and their solid weight in your small hands. Maybe if you stop spending all your money on boulani and gelato, you, too, could be the proud rockstar owner of a fancy-schmancy digicam. Something to think about.)
What are the rest of you rockstars doing this weekend?
The original caption on this photograph, when it was posted to flickr over 2.5 years ago, in August 2006:
This photo (and the previous one I posted from the same day) makes me so happy.
1. whined all morning about how hungry I was
2. asked my "fake internet friend" in Toronto about Bob Marley recommendations for Hashim
3. decided my TO friend was awesome because he never fails to pass along advice and recommendations (and so good-naturedly, too: "Anything for a Pathan girl from the West Coast I’ve never met" Ė who wouldn’t want to be friends with this kid?)
4. whined to my TO friend about how hungry I was, which resulted in him sending me Zabihah.com links for Silicon Valley and suggestions like, "Cheese pizza? Grilled cheese sandwich? [*looking at the Zabihah.com link*] You could go to Red Kwali, that new Malaysian/Thai place that opened up."
5. went to lunch, chauffeured by my buddy, Z, in his spiffy brand-new car with the new-car smell
6. sat around and ate lunch and talked about our lives and watched the co-workers make chai and refused all offers of chai (Z: "You could just smell mine") and pretended to get back to work, and agreed when Z said, "I wish I could just do this for the rest of my life."
7. got off work at 3.30pm! and drove all the way home with the sunroof open, because it was such a beautiful day
8. stopped by the bank, and laughed when the teller asked me, "Do you know Asad? He has the same last name as you do, and he comes in here all the time." [Clearly, she doesn’t understand what a common last name I have.]
"No, but I wish I had enough money, that I could afford to come in here all the time!"
9. had two women curiously ask me, during two separate occasions, how I tie my headwrap, and I had to explain and gesture with one hand because (both times) the other hand was full.
10. stopped by the 7-Eleven I used to frequent as a child (for cherry slurpees) and as a college student (for energy drinks and Pringles, right before hitting the road to commute to suckool), because I wanted to see if Ė miracle of miracles Ė they had blue raspberry slurpees in stock. But they didn’t, damn it! How difficult could it BE?! Freakin’ hell.
It’s okay, though. Right now, I’m heading out for a dinner with a friend, and an open-mic poetry session in Oakland.
Also, did I mention this photo makes me happy?
Tags: All-Star Crackstar Squad · Glorious mundanity · NineToFive outside the 925
What a mess (ii), originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Things I Have Wikipediaed in the Last Couple of Weeks (in No Particular Order):
-Amadou et Mariam
-Dera Ismail Khan
-Girl in a Coma
-The Hold Steady
-Sandra Day O’Connor
-Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye
-Serenity (Firefly episode)
-Regina v. Dudley and Stephens
-August: Osage County
-Nirvana (Elbosco song)
-Rub el Hizb
What about you? Is your list as strange and scattered and amusing (to me, at least)?
Tags: Blogistan and the Wide World of Webs · Links to love
The better to stab you with, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
My colleague ducks his head through the doorway this evening on his way out of work and calls out, “Bye, Jasmin!”
“You call me that again, and we are not going to be friends anymore,” I mutter sourly, without turning my eyes away from the computer screen.
His long-legged stride has already carried him halfway down the hall, but he hears me, and turns around to come back laughing. “Alright. Alright, Yasmine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“FINE,” I say.
The office slowly empties out, but I stay on for another two hours, working on an East Coast project so that the folks there can look at it first thing in the morning. It doesn’t hurt that my PC refuses to get with the Daylight Savings drama and switch forward one hour to the new time, instead obstinately changing back to the old time whenever I’m not looking. As a girl who is slightly obsessed with time and dates and documentation, I find this frustrating.
The PC tells me I’m an hour behind, the East Coast project makes me coordinate everything three hours ahead, and when I finally switch off the lights and lock the door and make my way down three flights of stairs, it’s still daylight outside. It’s highly disconcerting, the fact that it’s not dark anymore when I leave work. But the daylight makes it feel like there are more hours in the day, and I don’t mind this sort of trickery so much.
Outside the office, I pass a man I’ve seen before. He’s old and friendly and always nods politely when we cross paths. Today he smiles and says hello.
“Hi,” I say. “How are you?”
“There are 86,400 seconds in one day,” he says. “I just keep reminding myself to breathe through them all.”
I laugh. “That’s a good way to go.”
He peers at me closely. “Are you Pakistani?” he asks, and I blink, surprised. “Yes. And very few people manage to get that right on the first try!”
He leans in, asks in a confidential tone of voice, “How’s the situation over there?”
I pause, then shrug exaggeratedly. “Honestly, I don’t think the situation’s so great anywhere these days.”
He nods. “Just like here.”
Up the hill to home, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
I exited the train at my stop 40 minutes later, and the first thing I saw when I stepped onto the escalator and glanced to my right was the moon, hanging like white disk over Mt. Diablo.
I immediately thought of S, our personal superman, whose four-year-old text message is still saved in my phone: Look at the moon tonight, it looks hella beautiful.
In Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith, he writes about his wife, who belongs to “a brand of Sufi Islam” whose adherents stop to recite the Shahadah, the Islamic declaration of belief, when they see the moon. I remember reading that passage last week and realizing how long it’s been since I’ve even looked at the moon in a spiritual context. When I was little, our mother would gather us to her and have us peer out at the moon through our dining room windows, or herd us out onto the front porch, where we would raise our hands in prayer for the new moon.
When I lived in Pakistan as a teenager, our bebe (paternal grandmother) did the same in the courtyard of our village home. We stood outside one night when my father was briefly visiting from America; male voices drifted out the behtuk door while she and I stood out in the veyra. Bebe prayed in loudly mumbled whispers, and, when we had concluded by saying “Ameen” and passing our hands over our faces, she fondly relayed stories of my father as a child growing up in the very same house - stories my father would, as usual, later discount as Bebe’s exaggeration and natural flair for storytelling.
Brick courtyard at Casa420, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
The moon leads me all the way home, where I pull into the driveway and then turn around to park in my usual spot along our street without sidewalks, careful not to scrape my car against the low brick walls dividing the road from our side yard. I never forget to mention the bricks when giving people directions to our home: Continue for about half a mile on the narrow, winding road. Make a left up the hill, and we’re house number 420 on the left-hand side, the white house with all the red brick-work in front. More often than not, they ignore my directions in favor of commenting on my address instead: “420?! No way!” they laugh.
My parking spot is on a slope, and this is the home where, when I returned as a teenager, I first learned how to parallel park on a hill, using “Up, up, and away,” as my mantra, a line that I remembered easily only because it tied right back to Superman, whose comic books and television shows I grew up with, even during those 18 months in Pakistan. Turn your wheels away from the curb when parking uphill. Turn them towards the curb when downhill. Looking back through my review mirror, I see the moon behind me now.
California is the center of the WORLD, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Over dinner, we discuss moving - as we have been discussing for the past two months. And while part of me is wary yet resigned, another part of me is intrigued by the idea of change. I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter, if it were otherwise. And it is endearing, watching their excitement, hearing the energetic rise and fall of their voices as my mother dreams out loud of a fireplace and new kitchen cabinets and the daddy-o maps out decks and balconies and french-doors. Where we live now is my first home, our favorite home, but even still I’m amazed that Phase2 of our lives here has lasted so long. It’s been 10.5 years since our grand return, and don’t think the daddy-o’s nomadic tendencies haven’t been asserting themselves for a while now.
I have spent a lifetime stuttering when asked the “Where are you from?” question, only because my life has been comprised of shifting roads, different rooms, varying walls and windows. The people I have loved and lost - and found again, or ignored - are manifold. I resurrect old email threads only to unrepentantly archive them without answering the pleasantly surprised recipients, and wince through international phone calls, and let my blank gaze coldly skitter past unexpectedly familiar faces in shopping malls or coffeeshops or on BART platforms, choosing to ignore those people for whom I can’t find words anymore - or those to whom I’d never had much to say in the first place.
Houses may shift and the view outside my windows may change and my question to people may always be a confused, “Where do I know you from?”, but I soothe myself with the fact that the moon will always be there, that I have a good memory - an “uncanny” one, even, I’ve been told - for faces and dates and details, that the sunshine falls the same everywhere, that I can raise my hands in prayer wherever I go.
But the East Bay is not the South Bay is not the North Bay is not the Peninsula is not the City. One can drive for an hour over half a dozen different interstates and highways and still be in the San Francisco Bay Area - and yet not feel at home in one part even while another part is familiar and comforting.
Regardless of its myriad geographies and communities, California as a whole is my favorite, though, and I am lucky to live here, and to not be asked to give this up.
Supplication in San Francisco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Monday, 16 March 2009
I finished writing the bulk of this post in a coffeeshop in Sacramento, 75 miles from home. At one point, I looked up to see a girl I remembered from one of the high schools I had attended. Her blonde hair was now reddish-pink and her name didn’t come to mind right away, but I recognized the smile and the laugh and the slightly awkward knobby-kneed coltishness. I didn’t say hello. A few hours later, driving down H Street back towards 80 West, a man jogging along the sidewalk reminded me of a boy with whom I’d gone to school - but which city, and which of the seven schools I’ve attended, I had absolutely no idea.
On the way home, my sister and I stopped in the university town where we’d lived as teenagers, and where I’d returned for my undergrad. “Dude, I haven’t been back in years,” I said, as we exited the freeway.
“And how does it feel?” teased the sister.
“I’ll let you know when we drive through the streets.”
On a mission to “stop by the new masjid” before heading back to the Bay, our jaws collectively dropped when we drove down the main street and saw the new Islamic center. Inside and outside, it was beautiful, with an inspiring attention to detail. “This place must have been designed by engineers from the University,” I joked, referring to an event we had attended a couple of days before, at which the MC had deadpanned, “This program was put together by two engineers, so it’s going to run like clockwork.”
There was a blue dome. And small blue square tiles embedded in the entry areas, and the eight-pointed Islamic star integrated into the design, and lovely chandeliers and soft, light-blue carpeting. We couldn’t stop smiling. “We used to attend Sunday school at this masjid when we lived here,” my sister said to the president of the Islamic center, who noticed us wandering around the building and unlocked the doors for us.
“When was that?”
“‘95 through ‘98,” I said, and he smiled and asked what our parents’ names were. When we told him our father’s name, he nodded in recognition, although I don’t think he remembered the face to go with it.
There were yellow flip-flops waiting to welcome me when we slipped inside the marbled, clean and shiny women’s bathroom to make ablutions for the afternoon prayer. And when we stood shoulder-to-shoulder for Asr salah, my sister pointed out that, as travelers, we could technically pray the amended two cycles of prayer. The prayer of the traveler is allowed to be shortened.
“I’m praying the full four,” I said. “It feels like home.”
On the way out, we marveled again at the lights, the tiles, the shelves, the careful neatness with which everything was allocated a place.
“It gives me hope,” said my sister as we were driving away, “to know that there are people who pay attention to beauty and detail.”
Down the street was the Victorian house in which we had lived during those three years - the one with the bay windows. We drove by slowly. “It’s still gray and white!” I exclaimed. The brick walkways and geraniums have been replaced by grass, of which I highly approve. Ten years later after we left, the back deck is still the one we built, and the wrought-iron railing by the kitchen door is the same, as is the old, detached garage, and the city fire station directly across the street.
But not everything has remained unchanged. “Remember that tree the city planted for us?” I asked. “Is that the one?” I gestured towards a tall, sturdy tree at the side of the house.
“The city didn’t plant that,” said my sister. “We did.”
“Well, remember how it was all tiny and scrawny? And look at it now. It’s huge!”
Stick to the new: New paths & pathfinding, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
I can never manage to tell people “where I’m from,” which is probably also why I never have a good answer for where I’m going. And more than any other word or concept, the idea of “home” has always tripped me up and stopped me in my tracks - and intrigued me the most.
There is nowhere to go. Everything is perfect, says one part of me.
The other says, Everywhere you go will be somewhere you’ve never been.
And if there is one thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of being the daughter of a man with nomadic tendencies, a man who so nonchalantly embraces change as “adventure,” it is this: The end is just the beginning, and every point in between.
At least 86,400 points, come to think of it, on any given day.
“I have homes everywhere, many I have not seen yet. Thatís perhaps why I am restless. I havenít seen all my homes.”
- John Steinbeck
Tags: Casa420 and Familia · Loss and laments and letting go · NineToFive outside the 925 · Rockstar and Crescent
Tangerines!, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.
Hi, is this thing still on?
I know. It’s been a long while.
Owl has tried shaming me with harassment tactics, and H (”Yasmin Without an E”) has probably resignedly reverted to reading about immunoglobulins, and Bajiís still holding out hope, and Hashim has given up altogether.
I like when I beat Hashim in things, so I’d say this is as good a time as any to make a grand return.
Not to mention the fact that M wrote on my facebook wall a few weeks ago,
“My son, Ilyas, would like me to convey this message to you:
Update the weblog, or the highfives will stop. I kid not.”
Now that is the sort of threat that makes me quake in my stabbingdagger-pointed shoes. I hope you all are taking notes and picking up lessons from M here. No more highfives from adorablicious toddlers?! That would be just blasphemy.
Hashim accused me a few weeks ago of being “clearly in blog violation.” This, coming from the dude who professes to neither understand nor read weblogs. This is why it’s even more mind-boggling that he apparently subscribes to the RSS feed for my tumblr, mistook it for my real-deal weblog, and observed a while back,
“It looks like all you are doing is copy/pasting stuff from others. You do realize if that’s what I wanted to view, I’d RSS their sites instead. I think you are failing to understand how this is supposed to work.”
Point duly noted. I’m trying to relearn “how this is supposed to work.” Shall we try again?
Here are some updates from my end:
There are tangerine peels in my jacket pocket, and half-a-dozen tangerines piled on a corner of my desk. This is because I’m coming down with a cold, and need all the Vitamin C I can get. Standing on the train platform this morning, I soaked up the (unexpected) sunshine, and munched on tangerines from my backyard, in the hope that they’d bring back my usual 8-year-old boy with a stuffy nose voice (as opposed to the 13-year-old boy undergoing puberty who swallowed gravel voice I currently possess).
I’ve also just finished eating a red velvet cupcake with cream-cheese frosting and I do believe it was amazing.
I’m almost done reading Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith. He’s a rockstar, and he gives smashing highfives, and he writes beautifully - whether in his book, or his essays on activism, cooperation, and pluralism over at the WashingtonPost. (He’s also an extremely articulate speaker.) A couple of weeks ago, I was amused one morning to find that while I was immersed in Reza Aslan’s No god but God, the woman sitting next to me on the train was reading Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I turned 28 on March 1st, and I still feel like I’m really just 8 years old. It being a Sunday, I celebrated at home with my family and a dozen or so of my closest friends. After an entire year away, the Lovely L Lady was back in town for the week, which offered up just the perfect excuse to gather together the All-Star Crackstar Squad and celebrate with our full entourage. Two items of note on the menu deserve a super-special shout-out: We had 1. CHAPLI KABOB! and 2. CUPCAKES! In fact, the following conversation with the parents ensued when I’d returned from grocery-shopping the evening before:
Ummy: Cake mix? You’re going to make your own cake for your birthday?
Yasmine: No, actually, I’m going to make cupcakes.
Ummy: You don’t want to just buy a cake?
Daddy-o: Cupcakes? Cupcakes are for CHILDREN.
My cousins made me a colorful rockstar guitar for my birthday, out of cardstock and construction paper and GLITTER and ribbons and photographs. Did I mention lots of glitter? It’s AMAA-ZING, and makes me laugh so much.
I work in Berkeley now, and take BART (the train) to and from work everyday. Those of you who know me as the self-professed Commuter Child Extraordinaire will understand why my (still new-seeming) train commute makes me so gleeful. I don’t have to waste time in traffic! I read books again! (See above.) Life is so much less draining this way. And the office is right downtown, a mere block away from Gelateria Naia, which means I could run down the street and grab gelato every single freakin’ day, if I felt so compelled. (I do not feel compelled to do so every single day, for the record, but it’s nice to have that option.)
And my colleagues call me “Rockstar” every day. This is even better than nice.
I’m sure there must be other things I could continue rambling on about, but I can’t think of them at the moment. As Hanife commented so well recently, “The whole world has changed since you last wrote hereÖ” It has, hasn’t it? I have lots to say about the world, too, but I’ll get to that later.
Meanwhile, let’s hear from you, Rockstars Who are Reading This. Any news, dramas, plans, updates you want to let me in on? How are you, and how goes the life, and what are you up to these days?
Tags: All-Star Crackstar Squad · Blogistan and the Wide World of Webs · Glorious mundanity · NineToFive outside the 925