Category Archives: blogging

All About Me

My lovely, lovely friend Mrs We3three tagged me in a meme and I thought, why not?! It gives me a reason to blog, reasons being a little thin on the ground for me lately. I’ve left the British spellings on things because it tickles me to see it. Apparently this meme started with Cold Tea & Smelly Nappies (which sounds like two very unappetizing things together) so please address any issues there.

1) First off tell us your name and what you do… I blog under my real first name, Molly, and it is fairly easy to find out/know the rest of my name due to publication. But for the sake of trying to remain somewhat anonymous lets leave it at Molly. I work in Cancer Care at the moment and love working in medicine with patients, even if I do get sad a lot.

2) I live at home with… Mr. MM and our two cats Zuzu and Fat Boy Sal.


4) My favourite thing to eat is… Chocolate. All day every day. I love a lot of specific foods and dishes but chocolate is definitely top of the list. Mattar paneer is probably second beneath that.

5) When I get cross I… uncross. LOL, a lil’ British v. American humor *kneeslap*. Actually when I get “cross” I swear, much more than I should obviously, but it makes me feel better. Most of my swearing is on Twitter, so all of my Twitter friends most likely believe that I am a foul-mouthed broad liable to peel the paint off of very walls with my language. In reality I only swear when I am alone (generally while driving), on Twitter, or with Mr. MM. I swore the other day at work (while on break and well-away from any patients) and my coworkers were completely taken off guard because they didn’t think I swore. LOL. If only they knew.

6) Sometimes I worry because… bad things happen all the time and they generally always happen to me. Of course this isn’t true but my brain doesn’t know that half the time.

7) My favourite book is… 80% of the books written by Mercedes Lackey. Mark me as a nerd as you may, I love the Valdemar series, the 500 Kingdoms series, and the Elemental Masters series.

8) My favourite toy is (easy now)… my nook. I’m not sure I mentioned that I love to read. Honestly this is one of the best things anyone has ever gotten me. (Thank you hobi!)

9) I dislike… large groups, arachnids, cleaning, rude/annoying people, politics, lies (hence my dislike of politics), and injustice.

10) When I grow up I want to be… someone who has done something good in the world. Honestly. I’m happiest when I know that something I’ve done has directly benefited someone else, especially when it makes them happy. For a misanthropist I am remarkably affected by the happiness of other people.

I’m not going to tag anyone because I don’t know if anyone even reads my blog anymore. But I want you, yes YOU, to take this and do it on your blog and then tag me so I will know that people still actually do read me.

Giving blogging another go ’round

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Hello friends, I’m sorry I’ve been away but frankly my life has been a little boring, and the good bits (the interesting ones at least) were not things I felt prudent to put online. I guess that as I have gotten older I’ve become wiser about the information I put out for public consumption, especially now that I am (somewhat) more widely known than before. Not that I got famous by being published or anything; no big sunglasses and floppy hats to hide from the paparazzi. But I found my need to be heard and validated fulfilled by twitter where I can rant to my heart’s content and have it be seen by only those I want it to. My twitter is locked down and I am very specific about who I let in so it is the perfect mixture between private and public. I’ve missed you though, blogging friends, so I’m going to try again to get back in the saddle and write.

To catch you up on the specifics: Mr. MM and I are still in Minnesota. Mr. MM is currently a 2L law student and I am working with cancer patients. I didn’t get into the MFA program, which has actually turned out to be alright, but I may go back to school in the future for something else. Right now I’m just focusing on working, playing, and writing.

I hadn’t been writing as much as I used to and I think that my lack of desire to blog was tied up in the reasons for that. However, I’ve recently begun writing again, thanks to some workshops through Mizna (check them out, they are amazing) and the reawakening of my need to express myself- a need that 140 characters cannot begin to fill.

Last year, 2012, was an intense year that exhausts me when I think about it. Let’s just say that I was glad to welcome 2013 when it came, even if it does mean I’m going to be turning 30 in a month!

I can’t promise to blog daily, my work schedule may not always allow for that. But I do promise to start blogging more. How about that? Sound Good?

Ok.

Five Weeks Down – The Rest of My Life To Go

Anyone who says that gastric-bypass is the ‘easy way out’ has never actually known anyone who went through it. It’s been tough, especially the first three weeks between the liquid-only diet, hardest thing I have ever done hands down, and the oral thrush I caught and dealt with, I was all sorts of miserable.

The incision pain was, thanks be to God, very brief. I had surgery on Wednesday and was off pain meds by Sunday, but I would liken it to having done a hundred sit ups in 10 minutes without having ever done sit ups before in your life. I would have to have my husband literally lift me up out of chairs by my hands because I couldn’t make my stomach muscles engage my core enough to do it on my own.

Probably, the worst, most traumatizing experience came three days post-op. I had tried to switch from the liquid percoset to liquid children’s tylenol without knowing that they throw a whole lot of sugar into that crap to make it palatable for ill three-year-olds. It was too much sugar and I, having never experienced dumping syndrome in first hand, didn’t realize it. Very quickly afterward I was  uncontrollably and violently dry-heaving, having not even the faintest idea why, and in excruciating pain from my incisions with every heave. It was painful and I attempted to combat it with a dose of the percoset. Finally the dry-heaving subsided only to leave me drugged out and asleep for the messy aftermath of phase-two dumping syndrome. I won’t get into fine, and gory, detail but it left me in a very slimy and unpleasant situation.

*Sigh*, yes I went there. I wasn’t sure if I should but I want this to be a very up front discussion of what people face after this surgery.

I have been very lucky though, and very, very diligent about chewing my food to a pasty consistency, in that I have not – yet – dealt with any vomiting at all. I would truly say that this is because I am extremely careful about chewing and taking small bites. If you are thinking about this surgery, this is something that is so huge and important.

I have, however, encountered the pain of eating too much/too quickly. I would liken it to someone punching you in the diaphragm from the inside and then also pinching you in the intestine. It is unpleasant to say the least.

And due to my severe PTSD-like anxiety after that one dumping episode, I have eaten very little by way of sweets, and when I do eat sweets I take the tiniest of bites. People- there are 6 boxes of my favorite girl scout cookies sitting in the closet behind me and I haven’t opened a single one. A SINGLE ONE. That’s how terrified I am of dumping again. Aversion therapy, it works.

But the pluses are worth it. I feel so good. The last weight I took was 30 pounds lost since surgery. I believe that it has been more, as I haven’t weighed myself for a week or two, but it’s amazing. My body feels light and fluid, My energy- despite the tiny amount of food I take in every day – is high, and I already have lost a significant amount of the back and knee pain I was dealing with before the surgery. Alhumdulillah.

I made the mistake of getting over excited and trying to kneel down on the floor for prayer – omg ow – it’s still a little too early for that apparently. Felt like someone was nailing my kneecap to the carpet. But at least I didn’t feel like I was putting my back out getting up again so, you know, baby steps.

My clothes hang on me. Obviously this is a good thing, from a hijab standpoint and from a weight-loss standpoint, but it’s not such a good thing when I’m walking and my long skirt falls down enough for me to step on it and faceplant. Have I ever mentioned how graceful I am?

This soon after surgery I have stuck very closely to guidelines and not tried to get too far out into the food categories. It has been mostly basic proteins and some veggies for me. Tater tots didn’t go down so well, but at least they stayed down. Refried beans – vegetarian and healthy version of course – have been my friends, hamburger has oddly not – even though I have eaten a lot of it, it being a very easy protein to cook with. When you have to chew food as thoroughly as post-gastric patients do, you find quickly that hamburger is less meat and more un-chewable tendon than you previously had realized. And you begin to consider buying your own meat grinder in order to make sure that your meat is consumable even though you work a lot and come home very exhausted and having to grind your own meat would take forever it’s just that you’re tired of chewing for hours and having to still spit bits out like a cowboy with his spittoon. Y’know what I mean?

But, I spend a lot less money on food now. I can buy a lunch at work and have enough for two more days of lunch at work. It’s the little things.

My next few culinary adventures will probably involve trying hummus and fo’ul again. Beans are good protein, ya’ll.

If you guys have any questions about my experience so far, please ask me in the comments. I am going to set them up as needing moderation before they post publicly so if you feel your question is too personal for me to post it, let me know in the comment and give me your email and I will try to answer you directly.

Please be patient with me. We’ve had a lot of medical ordeals in our household recently, and along with work and daily life, I don’t find as much time for responding to emails and writing blogposts as I used to.

Now I’m going to get back to finishing my liter of water (flavored with Mio orange tangerine- it’s like Fanta without the natural sugar and fizz!). You’d be surprised at how freaking hard it is to drink 2 liters a day when you can’t chug.

I miss chugging- possibly more than girl scout cookies. I probably need counseling.

I am a Western Muslim

I’m having a go at this again because my post was just put to shame by the brilliance of my fellow convert bloggers, mashAllah. See all of their contributions here in the comments.

I want to say first that I feel I came off a little glib in my last post, as if my checklist could solve all your mosque problems.

 Believe me, I know that it won’t. I just know that this is how I’ve dealt with problems that I’ve faced.

 But also know that I plain gave up on going to ICC Tempe in Arizona because all the women there froze me out, despite all of my attempts. Yes, I’mma call ICC Tempe out because I wasn’t the only one to face that same problem. Shame on all of you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

 I also only made a few appearances at ICC Phoenix because of the same issue. O Ummah of Arizona, you need to get your ish straight.

 I was the most welcomed by the Pakistanis of the 32nd Ave Masjid, even though I didn’t go often because I wasn’t 100% happy with the leanings of that Imam, even though he is a good man mashAllah. At the time (this is 4 years ago, so things may have changed) it was definitely a culturally-driven Islam being taught there, and it didn’t jive with me.

 My point is that I encountered the same sense of not fitting in, and the same lack of a supportive ummah.

 And that is why I value the ummah in Minnesota so very, very much.

 UmmLayla blogged about the mosque that she would like to see built and what amenities she would like to see it offer. Alhumdulillah this is something that we have achieved here in Minnesota, so my friends, take heart. It IS possible.

 I want link up to the organization that has put into place so many of the programs that we need as an Ummah: Building Blocks.

 Building Blocks isn’t the origin of the wonderful ummah here, it is a PRODUCT of it. It is the product of many years of work done by wonderful, community-driven, Muslims and under the supervision of Sheikhs who made themselves available to an avid and hungry community. It is the product of blood, sweat, and tears; of 20 hour days and sleepless nights. It is the product of cooperation between Masjids and Sheikhs who don’t always have the same ideas, but are willing to put aside differences and work towards a greater goal.

 I’m not sure its something all communities can achieve, but it IS possible.

 I want to move on to another subject though; one brought up directly by Amie and alluded to by other contributors: the idea that Islam/Muslim and Western can’t ever exist jointly. You’re either Muslim, or you’re Western.

 The idea that if you haven’t completely given up your western side then you are not a true Muslim and you will always fall short.

 I alluded to it too, when I spoke of the initial phase of converting to Islam, the astughfurlillah and apologist phase.

 I also said that it is something many converts eventually grow out of. Like Nicole said in her post that most of us blogging dinosaurs figured it out, but disappeared and now the new Muslim bloggers are making the “New-Convert-itis” mistakes that we made or read about five years ago. Eventually they will make all the mistakes we made, or saw, or had to deal with as new converts years ago, and we will watch as some of them implode, while others grow up as we did.

 The problem with so many of the new converts is that even if you tell them that they are making a mistake, or that they are wrong, they won’t get it. They won’t understand. They’re stuck in that phase and they just have to live it out.

 But we can be there for other new converts online or in our local masjids, so long as we keep our presence up. And that would involve dealing with mosque-politics, for better or worse.

 How does that saying go? I don’t mean to be trite but: be the change that you want to see in the world.

 So when you see a new convert, or would-be convert enter the masjid, welcome them. And if they can’t pronounce the surah correctly, tell them that it will come with time.

 And show them, and the masjid too, that its possible to be Western and Muslim, so long as Islam is what guides you.

I also want to, as an end note, give credit where credit is due. Never underestimate what your online friends can bring to you, because even after 6 years of being Muslim, I still make a helluva lot of mistakes. I judged, even if it was silently, certain people or movements.

And so, while I may not always agree with the ideas of some of these sisters, I need to give them a shout out for making me see how important it is to let the judgement go and see that the most important thing about a person is that they are Muslim and that they are trying.

I may not agree with their path, but the most that I can do is be the best Muslim that I can be and leave the judgement up to God.

So, Nicole: I hope you know that your rants have made a huge impact on me. Thanks for being so angry. (just kidding.) You always have an important point to make.

Organica: I don’t always agree with you, but yours is a voice that needs to be heard because there is so much wisdom behind it.

UmmLayla: Because there is so much sage wisdom behind what you say and what you don’t say.

Thank you ladies for smacking me around when I need it.

Convert Truths Blogival- Shades of Grey

I was having a wonderful conversation yesterday with a good friend of mine who is much like me; a convert married to an Egyptian with similar religious leanings. We were talking about ummahs in different parts of the US that we had lived in or had friends in- what these ummahs had, what they lacked, and what we’re thankful for (a lot) in our local ummah here in Minnesota. We agreed that the Twin Cities definitely has the best ummah that we’ve ever lived in (alhumdulillah) and we posited that it might be the best in the entire US, in terms of size, amenities, and general brotherly love and cooperation.

Get ready, this blog post is really just a long commercial for why you should move to Minnesota.

Just kidding.

But you should.

When I read Nicole’s intro for Convert Truths (link here), I immediately felt a sense that all of her topic suggestions applied, and yet really didn’t apply to me, if that makes sense.

We’ve all been through the die-hard newbie phase; the abaya and niqab phase; the astughfurlillah phase. It’s a good phase, really, an earnest phase and we all generally go through it with sincere intentions.

I think its a necessary phase when it comes to a convert’s need to figure out who she/he is in terms of being a Muslim and still being oneself. Many people need that phase to remove themselves completely from their pre-Islamic mindset, to break from the routine.

I had that phase, my friends, I daresay that I was even a bit of a know-it-all for awhile. So obnoxious.

But eventually I grew out of it; eventually I was able to reconcile who I wanted to be as a Muslim while still retaining my individuality, as most converts are also eventually able to do. But I’ve been Muslim for coming up on 6 years now and I reckon that it took all 6 of them to get where I am today, and God only knows how much different I will be in 6 more.

What I can say is that having lived in Egypt made a huge difference in me as a person entirely, not just religiously. It doesn’t make me the go-to expert on all things Egypt, but I SINCERELY recommend that any convert lives for at least one year in their spouse’s home country because you learn so much about where your spouse comes from, why he/she acts, reacts, thinks, feels, and leans a certain way. Its a meeting point between you and him/her. If I could, I would make it mandatory.

Like I have that power. *flexes muscles*

Friends, it also gives you a bit of street cred with the mosque men/women from your spouse’s Backhomeistan, and it makes you a lot less obnoxious when you expound on why Backhomeistan is such a wonderful place, paved with gold, filled with super deeni people who are loads better than the western kufaar you have to deal with everyday; mostly because you probably wouldn’t expound on that because you’d know that Backhomeistan is actually only about 3% paved with bad asphalt and 99% culturally Muslim.

Seriously. See what I’m saying? Its terribly important.

Especially when it comes to mosque street cred with the Backhomeistan crew. And it ain’t just us converts, either. Western-born Backhomeistanians deal with the same exact side-eye from the crew if they’ve never lived in Backhomeistan, so try not to take it personally if you DO get side-eye when you try to sit with them.

Which brings me to a really, really important piece of information for new converts, old converts, any converts dealing with side-eye from Backhomeistanians in the mosque:

And I’m going to say this very baldly;

Stop giving a fuck.

Your religion is not FOR them to side-eye or front-eye or judge in any manner, mostly because many of them really have no more information about it than you do. See my reference to Backhomeistan being 99% culturally Muslim. They know the basics but unless they are scholars, they’re learning along side you.

And if they are scholars, and they’re still giving you the side-eye without welcoming you and try to help you, then they have a LOT more to learn.

But in reality, at least in many mosques I’ve been to, halaqa-time is Backhomeistanians Social Hour so really, the side-eye is less about religion and more about culture. Which is where Backhomeistan street cred comes in handy.

Now, lets go back for a second to my first paragraph, the one about Minnesota being an awesome place to be Muslim (alhumdulillah) (told you, long commercial for Minnesota); I feel blessed to have lived here and to have come into Islam here.

Are there mosque politics? Abso-freaking-lutely. You can’t get a group of people together WITHOUT some sort of interpersonal politics- religious, work-place, friendly, or otherwise. Its human nature, so try to not take it seriously.

Plenty of sisters I know have stopped going to the mosque here because of these politics, or because of snide things said or enacted by a group of other sisters.

This is sad to me, because they are ways to get around it as long as you are able to let it roll right off your back and, as I baldly stated above, stop giving a fuck.

For those of you who are having an issue with mosque politics, feeling burned by the side-eye, or out-casted I would like to give you a checklist:

  1. Check YOUR intentions. What are you going to the mosque for?
    • Socializing? I don’t blame you for it, where else can you socialize with other Muslims without having a core group of Muslim friends?
      1. Try another mosque, sometimes that’s all you need. If there are no other mosques then open up communication between you and the other women/men. Communication is KEY because they may only be giving you the side-eye because they don’t know you, and they can’t know you unless you talk to them. Yes, its shitty of them not to make the first move and welcome you, but if they are Backhomeistanian they may already feel out of place and uncomfortable around westerners. Sometimes it just takes breaking the ice and you find that they realize they were wrong about you and you were wrong about them. You can’t know until you try. Honestly, I’ve bull-dogged my way into a group of Egyptian women (after living in Egypt for a year, they became a lot more open to me because I LEARNED how to interact with Egyptian women. I TOLD you its important to have that street cred.) and now they’re pretty wonderful. You don’t HAVE to have the street cred, you just have to try. If they still ice you out, then they are not worth it.
    • Religious talks/classes/prayer.
      1. MashAllah. Why do you care what they think then? Go for the Islamic knowledge and fuhgeddabout the other people.
      2. Your local/only mosque is a different sect/leaning than you? That’s a toughie, especially when you have few options. Move to Minnesota.
        • Ok, I’m joking. But really, I don’t have an answer for that beyond trying to find a good online community. Internet friends are just as important as real friends, only you can’t hug them.
    • All of the above, but the men/women like to cause drama and you’re tired of it.
      1. What type of drama? Can you ignore it? I promise you if you stop giving a fuck what they think, and focus on why you are there, it should be better. Just because Islam is perfect, doesn’t mean Muslims are. Focus on why you’re there; focus on Allah.
  2. Check YOURSELF, and I mean this sincerely. Drama is many times a two-way street. If you take a step back, stop responding, stop back-biting about the other person to those people who are on your side, and the other person continues their rain of drama upon you, eventually it will become obvious that the only person continuing the beef is them. Focus on your reasons for being there, and ignore the drama-whores. They’re like bullies, if you stop rising to their taunts, they get bored. It may be hard, but remember that Allah rewards the person who backs down from a fight even though they are right. I’m too lazy to look up the hadeeth, but I’m pretty certain that reward is Paradise.

Of all the mosque drama I have ever encountered personally, most of the above advice should suffice. If it doesn’t, feel free to email me your issue at mollyannelian at gmail dot com.

Maybe I can start a Dear Abby column and call it Dear Amina.

I think this blog post is not what Nicole was looking for.

Plus I don’t know how to wrap it up. I am so off my blogging game, see why I don’t blog much anymore?

I stopped giving a fu— ok, I should stop swearing, sorry.

In reality, the Muslim blogosphere is no longer what it was then because we, the dinosaurs, grew older, wiser, and, at least in my case, tired. Many of us came into Islam around the time that blogging blew up and so we dove into this new media with the desire to work through our issues, our growing pains, and our creative labors online.

For me I live blogged a tumultuous, horrible, wonderful, amazing, and painful year in Egypt, and before that the first ten months of my marriage in the US, separated by an ocean from my husband. I could not have made it through that without my blog, and my friends who commented on my posts and commiserated with me. Thank you all for that, by the way.

Maybe Twitter has replaced my blog for me, because I can air my grievances out immediately, in 140 characters or less, or in a long, run-on set of tweets.

Maybe when I pop out a mini-me I’ll go back into live-blogging that child’s first smiles, farts, spit-ups, and steps. I don’t know.

Maybe right now I’m just at a contented point in my life. Alhumdulillah. Happy, comfortable, completely and totally bourgeois. I go to work. I cook. I shop at Target. I fill my car with gas. I dig myself out of the million tons of snow we seem to have gotten this winter (seriously, will it ever STOP?!?). I hang out with my wonderful friends and family.

I’m… happy. Alhumdulillah.

And I think I would make a very boring blog.

Am I getting boring? Honestly, I’m exhausted. I forgot how much work this blogging thing was.

So.. snappy wrap up?

I’ve got nothing. Check out my checklist though, see if you think it would apply. See if you think its a bunch of bull-hockey. Give me things you think should be added.

We’re works in progress, all of us.

And everything we do.

Have You Seen This Blogger?

Ok, ok, don’t put my face on any milk cartons. I’m sorry I’ve been away.

Unfortunately I don’t foresee any change in this blogging pattern coming. I’m so sorry.

Right now not only is it Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem btw!) but I am studying my little tail off for the GREs which I want to take inshAllah before October. My mom is studying for her boards. And Mr. MM is studying all things law, English, and legal English related for the TOEFL and the LSATs.

We’re just a houseful of studious studiers.

I just don’t have the time. 😦

Its not that I have given up on or forsaken blogging, I will return inshAllah, its just that right now there are things much more important for me to be doing.

Like playing vocabsushi.com.

Taking practice quizzes and tearing my hair out over the analogy questions.

Reading books that will inspire me to write for my portfolio.

Creating a portfolio.

All while fasting and sleeping here and there in 2-3 hour intervals.

Me so tired.

So, I’m sorry. Don’t send any search parties, I’m fine.

Just busy.

Mea culpa, please forgive me.

A New Writing

This is going to sound elitist and I apologize but: those of you who have the password can go to Cairo Calling to read a new story I wrote this evening.

I haven’t done any final editing as its brand new but let me know your thoughts.

PS- Zuzu just found her way into a garmet bag and then couldn’t find her way out again. It was hilarious.