Category Archives: All-Star Crackstar Squad

Keep on rocking in the free world

I Voted - Election2008
Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

It is the eve of Election Day 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will battle it out at the polls tomorrow, and, like much of the world, I am flabbergasted: How did we get to this point?? I want to remember how many of us felt during this season 8 years ago, as we waited to see if we were successful in electing Barack Obama as President of the United States, and even 6 years ago, as we evaluated Obama halfway into his first term as President. I don’t foresee I’ll feel any of the same unbridled excitement tomorrow — just relief or horror, depending on the results. But I want to share the post below, long-buried in my Drafts folder, so that we could remember what hope & happiness felt like.

Continue reading

When you’re up between the new skyline, the city lights and the warm sunshine

sailboat500.jpeg

As Jane Eyre says, Reader, I married him. Or should I say, I married them? After all, we are three — I, my husband, and our daughter, little Lemon. There is much to write about our marriage, our new home, the life we are settling into together. I will get to all that in due time — after all, even my husband sends me textmessages pleading, “Update your blog!!!!!!” (with multiple exclamation points, no less, the blasphemer).

It’s July now; there are flowers everywhere, and the sun is bright and warm when I go for hikes on the trails outside my front door. Finally, I think — finally, this condo has become home; finally, I am able to walk the hills overlooking the water here without missing the apartment and water-views and marina I left behind in the weeks before the wedding in late January. I haven’t gone far — 25 miles is nothing, distance-wise. But as I wrote three years ago:

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.

It was a prescient statement, although I didn’t realize it then. When I met my now-husband a year after that post, I was relieved that we both agreed my California would be home. After I moved this past January from the apartment I had shared for almost 1.5 years with my best friend/cousin, Somayya, the only things I regretted were the fact that I was leaving that beautiful place behind, and also that — except for hundreds of photographs on my harddrive — I had neglected to properly document, in writing, my life during the time I lived there. So, this is an attempt to remedy that, and to explain why I found myself in tears during the most inexplicable moments in the weeks leading up to the wedding.

The tears — oh, those were interesting, especially from a woman who hates crying, particularly in front of other people. But there were tears at the post office, in the shower, while packing and loading and moving endless boxes, in my car while driving, and in between phone calls to various wedding vendors. Even as I excitedly looked forward to my wedding, and to the next chapter of this beautiful love story I had helped create and cultivate, I couldn’t help but mourn the apartment I was leaving behind. It took me weeks to understand that it was okay to mourn, and perfectly allowed. This was, after all, just the latest in a series of homes I have loved and left behind, only to eventually, blessedly, find yet another place to love. If I still falter when asked, “Where are you from?”, it’s because I now need both hands to count all the places my hearts expands to hold.

I am falling in love with where I live now (that is a story for another post), but there are things I will always miss about the 1.5 years in the last apartment, starting with the stunning sunset from our balcony, five floors up:

sunset500.jpeg

Continue reading

Call me to the ocean, take me wandering through the street/’Cause I feel like going home

spoonful of suga
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.

bridge

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?

I said, Hey you, get out of my fog

217341582_33dc5589ec.jpg
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:

WHO’S IN?!

and:
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:

That’s it. When spring is here for sure and the weather stays consistently warm, I’m 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.

Today I:

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" – 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 – miracle of miracles – 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?

By the way/I saw your friends today and they all said you’re great

tangerines
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 Baji’s 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.
Yasmine: Exactly!

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 here…” 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?