Tag Archives: omg whats going on here?

Completely Re-Learning How to Cook and Other Adventures

For years Mr. MM had dealt with crippling stomach issues that often left him curled up on the floor in pain. As you can imagine this was extremely distressing for me; I couldn’t bear to see him hurt but didn’t know how to fix it. Being the only one who knows how to cook chef of the family I had formed a somewhat tenuous link in my head between what foods I cooked and his resulting stomach pains so I consulted Dr. Google and what I found there matched what I was already thinking. I believed that he was gluten-intolerant as anything involving bread or pasta left him in pain almost immediately however I was thrown off because it seemed that rice did the same thing. But rice is gluten-free so I was hesitant and confused. It also didn’t help that Egyptian food is built on a three-fold foundation: rice, bread, and pasta, and as such Mr. MM had never gone without eating one of those three for more than a day, if that. I was at a loss and Mr. MM himself was no real help in that every time I brought up the idea that he stop eating them he balked, add into that the fact that I had no idea what I would feed him and that meant that he continued to suffer while I dithered. *sigh* 

Finally it got to the point that I could no longer handle watching him in pain and he could no longer handle being in pain and we made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. As usual there wasn’t a GI doctor appointment to be had sooner than two months out, but we plugged along while I began serious research into what I would do if he did, in fact, turn out to be gluten-intolerant. I read, I researched, and then I did what I had never really done before: I planned out weekly menus.

Armed with this, and a test-run with quinoa that turned out much better than I expected, I approached Mr. MM with the suggestion that while we wait for the GI appointment we put him on an elimination diet. It took a bit of persuasion, me pointing out that the GI doc is going to suggest it anyway, and a promise that it would only be for two weeks, and he finally agreed.

Two weeks, and many new dishes later, Mr. MM was feeling great, while I was a bit kitchen-burnt-out. But whatevs, stomach-pain GONE. The next day after the Great Elimination Diet of 2012, Mr. MM had himself a sandwich and was curled up in pain after a few hours. A few more days without gluten or rice and he was fine again, and then a dish with rice and the same pain began.

My poor husband is not only gluten-intolerant but he is also rice-intolerant. I honestly can’t imagine anything worse for an Egyptian trying to eat Egyptian food than this. Our appointment with the GI brought the same diagnosis, especially as there really isn’t any way to test for gluten-intolerance other than an elimination diet. We could test for Celiac’s, but I don’t believe he has that, and we could test for a gluten allergy except he doesn’t exhibit any allergic reactions like hives, itchy anything, or swelling.

So, poor Mr. MM. And poor me!; poor, poor me. Because almost every gluten-free substitute for sale in the market uses rice flour as its base. So buying gf bread is out of the question, gf cookies almost as hard, and definitely no gf brownies or gf cake mix.

What’s a girl to do?

This last week I finally took the bull by the horns and mixed up my own gluten-free all-purpose flour mix and began baking with it, but that’s a story for another post later.

For now I can say that we are eating really healthy and I am very happy about it. I don’t think I’d go back to cooking rice and eating bread now, even if we could. Post gastric-bypass I shouldn’t be eating rice, bread, or pasta anyways so not keeping it around the house isn’t hard. I’ve had to become a little adventurous in my cooking, yes, but it keeps things interesting. And thank God – seriously alhumdulillah – for quinoa because having that as an option has made all the difference. I can still make most Egyptian main dishes, simply using quinoa instead of rice, so not too much has changed.

I have to say though that molokhia over quinoa really isn’t the same. *sigh*

Still, we both feel healthier and happier, and I’ve been looking into ways to further clean up our food through reading my friend Rehaam’s blog Steak and Sass.

Now, she’s gone Paleo and that’s a bit lot further than I care to go, but some of the principles of cleaning up what we eat make sense, especially working in Cancer Care, as I do.

I’m going to start blogging some recipes in the future as I can’t imagine that Mr. MM and I are the only Muslims and Arabs dealing with how to cook ethnic gluten-free food.

Maybe I can help a sister/brother out.

And if you, or someone you know, is dealing with gluten-intolerance AND rice-intolerance let me know in the comments. I feel like there are many more people dealing with that than just us.

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Dawah By Dong*

In this title I am talking about the men who are intent on spreading Islam with their man-parts, by dating and eventually converting poor, misguided women in the West.

I hesitated to write this post, despite my passion on the subject, because I, myself, was involved with a Muslim man when I converted to Islam. I’ve mentioned this before and am mentioning it again in the interest of full disclosure. I didn’t convert for this man, however, as evidenced by the fact that I rejected his marriage proposals, broke up with him soon after converting, and moved out of state to escape him, my family, and my old life in order to re-discover myself in my new, chosen, identity.  I had also been bumping up against, discovering, and delving into Islam for four years before this relationship so the brother was not my first introduction to the religion. InshAllah he will get reward though because he did help me cross that final threshold.

I also hesitated because I anticipate that this will be, possibly, an offensive topic for many out there because I very rarely, and I mean rarely, meet women who converted on their own, without being in a relationship, or already being married to a Muslim man. I identify myself as someone who came into Islam by myself, although in fact I do wallow in a gray area between due to this relationship. I can neither disregard nor completely credit the contribution of this brother for my being Muslim. But I generally count the two years between my conversion and my marriage as sufficient to identify myself as someone who came into Islam without being married to a Muslim man. You may disagree with that as you wish.

Many, many converts cannot say the same thing though, and I fear that I will marginalize or degrade their decision to convert by what I want to say in this post. I do not mean to. There is nothing to say that your Islam is less valuable because you married your husband before, or soon after, you converted.

My object of disdain is the Muslim man who dates easy, empty-headed women and then uses the leverage of “I can’t marry you because you’re not Muslim” to break it off when the poor girl gets too clingy. And who justifies his rutting around by saying that he believes she is interested in Islam and he wants to guide her. But then uses aforementioned excuse to break it off when he tires of shagging her.

And there are men who date women who aren’t even interested in Islam and then, when both are invested in the relationship, put pressure on their girlfriends to convert because he won’t marry, and make babies with, a non-Muslim. This is a very sad and unfortunate situation because the women are forced to choose between losing the man that they love or converting to a religion they don’t believe in.

I would be surprised if you, the reader (assuming that you are Muslim and you travel in Muslim circles,)  had never known of, or heard of, a situation where this had happened. The woman breaks down and “converts,” the man marries her, they pop out a few kids and 10 years down the road the woman is miserably unhappy with being a Muslim, covering, and dealing with the expectations so they divorce. It’s a bitter divorce, and of course she leaves Islam, and a year later the kids are going to Friday prayer with dad and Sunday school with mom.

This is why dawah by dong is fatally flawed even though it is the primary method by which many women convert.

Obviously I am ignoring the simple fact that offering his man-parts to ‘ze ladies’ is haraam. I’m ignoring it simply because they do.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Muslim men with non-Muslim women. And very, very, very few of them plan on marrying these women. They’re just playing around until they save enough plata to bag a virgin from their home country. The kufar women are simply for getting his rocks off before then. Sometimes the man is afraid enough of Allah that he marries the chick Islamically so that the sexy-times are not a sin, but the final outcome is the same.

Raise your hand if you’re a non-Muslim and you’ve heard that Muslim men are skeezes? Heck, raise your hand if you’re Muslim and you’ve heard, or seen, that Muslim men are skeezes?

*raises hand*

But behind this are a number, a large number, of women who met their husbands at work/school, became romantically involved, learned about Islam, converted, married, spawned, and are living happily ever after as content Muslimahs. MashAllah.

But oh, oh, how many failures there are. How many men there are who use it as an excuse. Even as an excuse to marry a SECOND wife. To “help” some woman who is thinking about converting, or recently converted, stay on the path.

Because God knows that we women aren’t strong enough to keep a religion without a man around to remind us.

And what a noble cause this gentleman is embarking on: saving the converts of the world, four women at  a time.

Spreading the good word of Islam with his “sword.”

Enough.

Islam is beautiful enough to spread without blackmailing a woman into it.

Women are competent enough to discover how to be a good Muslim without a man to teach her.

And if you are interested in Islam, contact a local mosque. Or go ahead and ask that dreamy-eyed brown boy in your organic chem class about Islam but don’t, do not, absolutely do not tie YOUR Islam to him or anyone else.

Make it your own. And then marry him.

But this method of spreading Islam needs to stop.

Though I doubt it ever will.

I’d flay the skin off my son if I ever caught him doing this, although I would support him giving a Quran, advice, or the number to the local masjid to the pretty young thing who approached him in organic chem.

But I’d make sure she wanted Islam for herself before I consented to a marriage.

Brothers, be responsible.

Ladies, be smart.

And please forgive me if I have offended anyone, it wasn’t my intention. I just had to get this off of my chest.

 

 

*I apologize for such a crude way of putting it, but its apt.

 

Addendum: There are many good, righteous brothers who seek to marry converts because they like the idea that a woman, who was interested in Islam, became a Muslim and they want the reward of helping her learn Islam. Sometimes they help a woman, who has approached them with questions, and the relationship becomes romantic before she converts and after she does they then marry. This situation, from my experience, is the majority of the cases of how women convert to Islam. Its close to the line but doesn’t cross it, and may Allah bless them.

My husband married me after I had been Muslim for 2 years and he is happy to say this whenever anyone asks. Alhumdulillah.

Of Mice and M… Cats.

My mom, despite her cat allergy, wanted me to bring Zuzu to the states with us in order to be a mouser.

That means then that Zuzu is allowed to live here contingent on her ability to catch mice. (Officially- but I know that no matter how much Mr. MM threatens to throw her out he secretly loves her and never would. Also I’d kill him.)

The reason my mom wants a mouser is because last winter she had a horrible infestation of mice and she’s expecting a repeat invasion this winter as well. *shudder* We all were hoping that simply the smell and presence of Zuzu would keep the mice at bay but no, sadly not.

One night we were all sitting and watching a movie when we heard the tinkling of Zuzu’s belled collar punctuated by an odd squeaking noise that sounded something like an ungreased wheel. We three turned to see Zuzu march into the livingroom with a mouse in her mouth.

ZUZU’S A MOUSER!

…well sort of.

She seemed startled by our sudden attention and she ran up into our bedroom with the mouse in tow.

Into our bedroom.

With the  mouse.

@&#^$^#&!@

Into our bedroom where she then proceeded to lose, find, lose again, find again, and ultimately lose the mouse.

*sigh*

It did help us identify a mouse bolthole that we were able to plug up and we’re hoping she injured it enough for it to die later.

But what makes me the most frustrated is that my darling cat will do the famous death shake while eating her dry food- and thereby spread bits of crunched cat chow far and wide- but she can’t see to snap the neck of a mouse with the same maneuver.

Arg.

On the one hand I’m hoping she figures out that mice are to be killed and how to do so, but on the other I’m hoping the mouse that got whooped will go back to his buddies and spread the horror story so that none of them come back.

I know it’s a pipe dream but what can I say?

My cat catches mice…

And then lets them go.

Hello Sweat Glands, It’s Been Awhile

1.) The day after I blog about how fabutastic spring in Egypt was it turns hot. Like hot, hot. Hot enough for me to walk around going ‘holy crap! its hot!’ However in reality it is only 1/10 of how hot it gets here in the summer. The weird thing about Egypt weather, that I’ve noticed at least, is that the weather changes in the middle of the night. Over the past month or so everytime the weather warmed up I noticed it at about midnight to 2 am. Its so odd to walk outside and think to yourself ‘is it really hotter now than it was at 4 pm?’

the cat just farted and it was horrible. i need to stop letting her lick my roz-bi-laban bowl.

Last night after I finished blogging and got ready for bed I passed by the window and felt the warmer than it was during the day air blow past me. I woke up this morning afternoon covered in sweat. Yummy. It just reminds me that I seriously need to be out of here before summer really kicks in because otherwise I might lose whatever weak hold I still have on my sanity. Let me repeat that: weak hold.

Unfortunately Mr. MM is really not fully on board the USA-train; yesterday he brought up the idea, once again, of staying here. He likes to switch up the reasons but this last one was the pig flu and the craptacular economy. He reasoned that neither of us are going to find jobs and we might die. (BTW I believe he was maybe probably kidding.) Just a few days ago he told me that one of his aunts was so desperate to keep him in Egypt that she offered to fund an English Education business for me. All mine; I’d manage and teach if I wanted to. The only thing is that I am not a business person and I am not interested in building a business (unless its selling FABULOUS clothes for Muslimahs in the States) and I am even less interested in staying here.

Things I would need to stay here:

  • A nice flat thats fully air-conditioned and that I don’t have to worry I’m going to be kicked out of.
  • A car.
  • A maid. (We usually have that now but the last one up and disappeared.)
  • I don’t have to work if I don’t want to. (I technically have that as well but any money I bring in gives us a good cushion.)

Life is Egypt is possible to get used to. If you so choose of course. Its like deciding that living with a schizophrenic roommate is do-able when in reality getting a new roommate would be so much better.

Two hours ago we had a goat going bat-sh*t outside our window.

Read that again, please.

A goat.

My first thought was: ‘is one of our neighbors having a sacrifice or did a goat just wander into our garden?’

And I live in a place WHERE BOTH THINGS ARE PROBABLE.

Sure I can get used to tantrum-throwing farm animals, but do I want to?

To be honest I have softened my viewpoint of Egypt. I think by now that I have been so thoroughly bitten (quite literally over a million times by mosquitoes but thats not what I mean) by the Egypt-bug that I can never ever leave Egypt completely. The thought makes me homesick. Also I must admit that Egypt, Cairo especially, is such a fount of insanity-derived creative juice that I can’t not write. It drives me to writing; its my muse, so to speak.

But do I want to stay here now? No. Do I like the idea of coming back when Mr. MM has an American law degree and the ability to bring down big bucks? Definitely.

I like the idea of being a pampered housewife, ok whats another word I can use? Housewife implies things like cleaning, which are quite prominantly not in my fantasies. Ok, being a pampered writer who may or may not teach a class or two at the AUC but has all the time in the world to haunt coffee shops and write. I could do that. I’m not even high-maintenance so pampered doesn’t mean spiffy clothes and italian leather purses. But I would need a nanny. Hm… Mr. MM may not like that.

Anyways, I can iron those details out later.

I lost my train of thought, where was I?

Oh yes, Egypt. I could live here again, but in much different circumstances. Egypt is a place where it is hard to be anything less than rich. In most places money makes things easier but lets be honest: middle-class in the west is a-ok. Most people in Egypt scrape by at the level of poverty or below. Mr. MM and I are middle-class here, but for me middle-class Masri-style is a big step down from middle-class ala americani. Its hard.

So to come back here it would have to be with money and a good amount of it. Thankfully the exchange rate is pretty good so we wouldn’t have to have that much.

And what about life here? Yea, its tough. In fact things are snow-balling here (ok not literally, did I mention that its really hot?) in terms of living condition and social harmony. Everyone is feeling the pinch of poverty, unemployment, corruption, the disintigration of respect and social morality, and loss of love for your fellow man. A month or so ago I finally realized what it was exactly: they have nothing left to lose.

Mr. MM and I were driving to Alex and a young man literally stepped off of the curb and into oncoming traffic as if he didn’t care if he got hit. Not exactly suicidal but without a thought of the consequences. To everyone in Egypt who reads my blog: watch the people on the roads. They have nothing left to lose.

Young men heckle and harrass because once they finish their almost meaningless education in schools that don’t care about them and with teachers who take bribes or have a personal vendetta against them they only face a future of probable unemployment and no hope for marriage for at least another ten years. They have nothing left to lose.

Women walking down the streets in the hot sun with small children while carrying the weight-equivalent of another two small children on their heads decide to cross a free-way, dragging said small children behind them, dodging cars and making people slam on their breaks, when in reality there is a pedestrian bridge a matter of 1/5 mile up the road all because they have nothing to lose. Ok, maybe a couple of children. But they’re almost starving, unable to imagine how they’re going to feed themselves and their children for the next three days. They have nothing left to lose and so extending the effort it would take to carry their things and children that far just to cross safely doesn’t add up for them.

If things continue this way here I imagine that Egypt will crumble in ten years. Maybe less.

Egypt was a beatiful, safe, peaceful country 35 years ago. Fifty years ago Cairo is said to have rivaled Paris for beauty. I have hope that Egypt will be that way again someday. But not now.

Thanks Mubarak. Just putting that out there.

Did I mention its getting hot? I sure hope Mr. MM doesn’t decide that he can’t leave Egypt. I’d really be lonely without him. On the upside I have told him that if we are here in the summer I’m moving to Alex.

He thinks I’m kidding.

I’m not.