Monday, February 21, 2011

Great Expectations


Lately I've been thinking about what being married means.  Having a talk with my mother last week really made me start to think.  Don't get me wrong - I know what kind of man my Char is, and inshaAllah I will get to know his family, but what I hadn't thought about, for the most part, was the day-to-day practical things.  Just because Char and I will be so happy to finally be together inshaAllah, doesn't mean that our bellies won't need filling.  Just because we'll be all laughs and kisses for a while doesn't mean our clothes won't need washing or our home won't need cleaning.  These things seem like they don't matter, but the are, in fact, just as basic as a couple's ability to communicate.  There are things that I am not accustomed to.  I rarely make my bed, I don't cook, and I've never had to do much cleaning.  I wasn't raised with chores.  But this week, a lot has changed.

You would think that it would be common sense to realize a fairy tale wedding does not a fairy tale marriage make.  In theory, I know that.  In reality, it just made a dent in my thick head.  So I've finally realized how important it is to get into the habit of things like dusting and cleaning the bathroom and, yes, making daal.  Into habits like tidying and picking up things that are out of place.  Being wifely.  I know!  It sounds crazy, and some might say it's backwards and oppressive.  But honestly, I can't see it that way.  It's simply a desire to keep a good home for myself and, inshaAllah, for my future husband.

I have a friend, O, with whom I like to think I'm becoming closer.  MashAllah, she's a great sister with a strong sense of self and solid values.  And she's happily married for just over two years.  And her husband happens to be friends with my Char.  This weekend, while Banana Anne and I went to O's for dinner, the boys had their own night in.  ( :  She has been a great support for me through the last eight months, and this weekend was no different.  She gave me her experienced insight into a married woman's home life, and I am very grateful.  Discussing cleaning habits, and about learning to compromise, and how to Islamically handle home finance was comforting and useful.  I am truly blessed to have a friend like her.

Something else of note: I made red velvet cupcakes and cake, with cream cheese frosting, from scratch!  The recipe is from Chef Google, so I won't bother posting it.  But this is how they turned out.




Saturday, February 19, 2011

Freak Whirlwind (part 2)


Sunday, June 13
I opened my email to find that Char had sent me a Facebook-friend request.  From what I'd gathered about him from S, I was under the impression that he was usually unsearchable and so only did friending himself.  So he reached out to me!

I got very excited to see the request, flailed a little (or a lot!) then accepted.  I posted on this wall, he commented, and thus began our conversation.  We move to GChatting, and talked til 1am.  About all sorts of random things - pigeons (his research), sports (rugby), soda (Coke vs Pepsi).  We flirted cautiously, talking about my parent-made biodata (he later admitted he was testing the friend-zone), and how my mother tongue is very important to me, leading to him asking me how to say something in Bangla.  He even suggested that we go see a movie - in a group.  The sneaky bugger!  By the end, I had his number, and a growing hope that he was interested.




Friendship.  It's a complicated word.  A complicated concept, really.  There are best friends, close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and frenemies, just to name a few.  So how do you weed out those friendships (and relationships) that aren't working anymore?  That aren't healthy?  How do you let go, and stop trying, when you wish you didn't have to?

I bring this up because at this stage in my life, I find myself questioning the relationships I held near and dear to me.  Some people, I have come to accept, I am friends with by circumstance.  We get along, and have great times together, but we don't really go out of our way for each other.  And that's okay.  My best friend A, though?  I know we'll get through life just fine.  We've spent years apart, in different countries, with barely any time to talk.  Now that we're back in the same state, we've picked up where we let off.  We have banter, the same inside jokes, and she can always turn to me for advice.  And of course, I to her.  And we do.  And finally, there are some wonderful women out there I've known for nearly my entire life, with whom I am slowly yet surely becoming closer.  And subhanAllah for that.  I am lucky to have you in my life.  I hope you know who you are.

But there are just some relationships I don't understand.  I spent eight months out of state.  That place became home.  A place I lived, went to school, worked, and had bad things happen.  Like it or not, those eight months became a significant part of my almost-25 years.  And while I was there, I met a lot of great people  Brothers and sisters of a strong MSA, mashAllah.  A crown that I really fell in love with.  Then I moved back, and to my dismay, with that move I lost many of the people I cared - no, care - about.  We talked online fora  few months, but communication slowly dwindled.  I'm not blaming them at all, and this isn't the only time this kind of thing has happened.  In fact, I probably could have done a better job of keeping in touch.  I guess what is said tends to be true: out of sight, out of mind.  The point of my rant is that now I'm at a crossroads where I have to continue a seemingly one-sided friendship, or somehow let go of the idea that maybe things will change.  I get despondent, and sometimes, angry, when I reach out and am not met somewhere partway.  So my question is: how do I do what is best for me, and move on?

Job searching is going better than I expected, Alhamdulillah.  I have been some good fortune, and am hoping it extends to Tuesday.  I have an interview for a position that I am very interested in.  They have sent me sic articles to read related to their research to prepare, and I am already so nervous.  Please make du'a that I am able to impress them.  Thankfully, I had a whole course dedicated to reading journal articles critically and actually understanding them.  And sidenote: what will I wear!?

Char's sister and I see to get along, at least so far.  We've hung out twice, and talk online a bit.  I guess I just feel intimidated by her.  She's very intelligent.  The whole family is.  I really wonder if I'll fit in like Char believes.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Freak Whirlwind (part 1)


I won't lie. I have been procrastinating on this post. Why? It's a long story that, were I telling it in person, would be broken with many "Awwww"s. Regardless, it's one of my favorite stories to tell. It takes place over a week, the most memorable week of my life thus far.  It is the story of how Char and I met.  Because of it's length, I will relate it in parts.  Here begins part 1.

Saturday, June 12
I ended up volunteering at the NABIC (North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community) Conference because I felt like an unsupportive friend.  S worked really hard to bring it all together, and I had given her my word. 

I'd been at ISBCC since early that morning.  I thought we volunteers would be fed soon, only to find out that the big speaker event would be before dinner hour.  Meanwhile, S's friends from uni arrived, only one of them Bangladeshi.  He was one of them.

So now here's this boy I've thought was cute for a long time (yes, I'd seen him before at S's uni events, plus my brother goes there, too).  I didn't know anything about him, but here was my chance.  Every time he look at me, my heart fluttered.  I had to mentally yell at myself to stop overreacting.  After all, he barely knew my name!

The speaker began.  We volunteers sat in the back.  When some people arrived late, I gave an auntie my chair.  Almost immediately, Char offered me his.  Char and his friend were playing dots.  I wanted in, so he and I started a game.  Due to his inattentiveness, I won!  Over the group dinner, we learned a little more about each other, and yes, flirted.  Lightly, but it was there.  And finally, as my family got ready to leave, he made a chivalrous move, offering to help me take something to the car.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day


February fourteenth hasn't meant much to me since my elementary school days, when we had to give each other cards with the plea, "Be Mine."  This is it means something very important to me.  Not because I have Char to share it with, but because I have Char at all.  Today is the mark of our first eight months together.  It may sound silly to note this as a milestone, but I'm just that sappy.  And the fact that he is willing to be sappy with me goes to show one of the ways we fit well together.  Alhamdulillah.

Today I also had my first post-grad job interview.  I think it went smoothly, except that I stuttered a bit.  Apparently I stutter when I'm nervous....who knew?  I think the fact that it is the first one was the most nerve-wracking.  I was even unsure what to wear!  I ended up choosing dark brown slacks, a synthetic deep purple blouse, a shaded purple cardigan to cover my sleeves and a dark brown wool hijab.  Stylish and warm!  And of course I had to wear my Via Spiga Oxford heels.  Man, I love those shoes!  Hmm....I may just decide to post more outfits, if I deem any of them modest and flattering. haha.

Went to the eye doc again today, for a follow up.  I have keratitis, from contact overwear.  PEOPLE: DO NOT WEAR CONTACTS TO SLEEP.  EVER.  It's just bad news.

It's also Monday!  Which means I finally fasted.  Alhamdulillah it was not difficult until the last few hours.  MashAllah to those who were also able to fast, and inshaAllah next time, for those were not able.

Here's the thing about relationships.  The are hard.  The halal ones and the not-so-halal ones.  At the end of the day, you're trying to find out if you'd be able to spend your life with that person.  You need to know things, from the everyday Will he help with the dishes? to the more serious How does he feel about girls' nights out?  What if it's a coed group?  Out-of-town visits?  Out-of-town visitors?  And you have to be prepared to answer the same questions.  Honestly.  Circumstances can change, and with them views and outlooks, but if you aren't truthful from the beginning to the end, whatever the issue is will eat at you, and you'll drive yourself crazy.  Alhamdulillah Char and I are trying to be open about these things.  Even things that seem small could be a big deal when two people are living together.  We recently had a discussion during which we talked about something that was on my mind, and then he brought up something he'd been worrying about: my slowly declining prayer habits.  And honestly, while I was a little embarrassed, mostly I was relieved that he cares so much about my Iman and Akhirah as he does about anything else.   I could not have asked for more.  SubhanAllah.

I've thinking more and more about giving and getting advice.  During DBT group I find a short respite from the things at home that are distressing, but I don't think I'm getting as much out of it as I used to.  I feel that I'm better equipped to handle the triggering problems.  I have been considering leaving group for a few weeks now, and it sounds more and more like the best idea.  Still, the troubles with my mother haven't eased - indeed, they seem to be worsening - so I'm undecided.

As to giving advice, I am often told that I listen well and give great advice.  I'm truly blessed to be able to help many friends in this way.  I think I would like open myself to helping other friends, other sisters in need of a few answers, to the best of my ability, through this blog.  If you, my few readers, have any thoughts about this idea (whether positive or negative), please don't hesitate to let me know.  If I get enough positive feedback, I'll then decide how to pursue this.  JazakAllah.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quarter-life Crisis


People, I'm old.  I'm almost 25 and what have I done with my life?  I graduated college late, I have years of expensive therapy under my belt, and I have no job.  Still, I'm not discouraged.  Yes, it sounds depressing, and yes, I have a family that constantly reminds me of that (and that the only thing I've gained in the last year is weight), but really I'm so bad off.  I did graduate, and I was able to use my time off from Wellesley to gain incredible work experience, Alhamdulillah.  And I am deeply in love with a wonderful man who supports me through my highs and lows.

Speaking of high and lows, I'd like to ramble about religiosity and spirituality.  For me, spirituality is about faith and supplication.  Religiosity is the practice and application.  Though I like to think that I don't falter in my spirituality as I do in my religiosity, the plain truth is that I just do it as often.  Lately, I haven't been talking to Allah as much as I'd like.  It may sound crazy but it calms me to know that I have a one-on-one relationship with my God, more than worshiping Him as He has commanded.  It's nice to know that I can sit down for a minute, or five, and tell God my troubles, my worries, and my joys.  It reinforces my strength and my faith.  As Islam teaches, if true spirituality is in the heart, it will show through religiosity.  I'm paraphrasing.  My point is that if we believe, so should we practice.  Now, only the perfect and near-perfect among us (read: the Prophet [pbuh] and the Sahaba [pbut]) could really hold a candle to this statement, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still apply.  For this this means that application comes from faith.  But let's face it.  If we sit around day saying we believe and don't attempt to get up and pray, then we'll never pray.  Each supports the other.  Believing in Salaat will guide is to performing our prayers, and in turn, that will strengthen our faith.  InshaAllah.  Sidenote: I believe one practice other than prayer that can help me become stronger is fasting.  It's Sunnah to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.  It is a practice I intend to work on, and I invite you to join me.  We can build brother- and sisterhood while building Iman.

This last week, man.  Things be craaaazy.  (Or maybe crassie?)  My mother is home from the hospital Alhamdulillah, and recovering slowly yet surely.  And I'm glad I was there every step of the way.  It's honestly an honor to be able to help one's mother regain her health.  I have to wonder though, whether I'm the only one appreciating the outcome.  Not her illness, obviously, but the fact that I have been able to step it up as a daughter, and as a woman.  I've decided to discontinue with my DBT group (Dialectical Behaviorable Therapy) and just focus on the things I have going on.  I am struggling hard against the words I hear at home and the feelings they produce in me, but in the end I think I'm coming out on top, Alhamdulillah, even though right now I'm only ahead by millimeters.

More later, iA tonight.