Tag Archives: Working hard and hardly working

Dream Home

Does anyone else look up house listings in their area, pick a house they love, and then spend hours dreaming of how to decorate it, and what things they would cook in the mind-blowing kitchen (because it must have a mind-blowing kitchen)?

*sigh*

InshAllah one day my dream home will come true.

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.

It’s a Cold World, Charlie Brown

Thank God I have a paying temporary job but holy hannah is it hard finding a permanent one!

I’ve been applying to all sorts of jobs but haven’t heard a single call. I think a huge part of it is that for 45% of the jobs I’m over-qualified and 45% of them I’m under-qualified.

Dear Corporate HR Manager,

If I need 3-5 years of experience for an entry-level position, what is the new “entry-level’?

Calling All Converts

I’m looking for converts who have written their conversion stories or are willing to write their conversion stories and would be interested in having them posted online.

The website I work for is dedicated to non-Muslims who are seeking information about Islam and new Muslims who are looking for support. One of my assigned sections is conversion stories and so many new Muslims and/or seeking non-Muslims have found inspiration there.

Would you like to be the inspiration for someone?

Email me at mollyannelian [at] gmail.com and I will reply via the official editors email.

All Them Blue Beads N Whatnot

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I’ve been super busy kids, I’m sorry. Basically 12 hours of my days are consumed by this new position. I love it but I don’t know if I can handle it.

C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?

Come Mista Tallyman, Tally Me Banana

Daylight come and me wanna go home.

So I have some great and greater news! Which one do you want first?

The great news is that I finally left the seething pit of hell that was Global Education. Man was THAT a barrel full of monkeys.

Quite literally, I worked for monkeys. Everytime I went to work there was a new person working there until finally there was only one of the original staff left, the only one I trusted and who had my back, and a new boss-monkey who everyone hated and who I despised.

Boss-monkey was simply rude to everyone, including me, and finally I had had enough. I got to the two-month mark, had them tally me bananas, took my salary which I was almost not sure they were going to give me, and decided to never come back. Right after I had decided I found that the owner of the company had, just that day, fired without explanation the last staff-member I actually liked. I got out just in time because I’m sure that had I needed to try to get my bananas from boss-monkey he definitely would not have obliged.

So, yay! I’m free, I’m free, whoop whoop, I’m free.

And the even GREATER news is that the day after that I got a new job! A totally awesome job in a totally awesome place doing totally awesome work alhumdulillah. For real, ya’ll.

I am now an Assistant Editor on a prominent Islamic website focused on dawah. I will also write a bit for them as well inshAllah. Alhumdulillah rabiy-al-ameen!

I originally had to decided to say which one, however for now I have decided against that. Also I hold a few views that are not officially sanctioned by the website and I really don’t want to have to censor myself on my own blog.

I think I will also be published on a small number of other websites through connections, but Allahu alem.

Either way its a HUGE first step towards being a (sorta) recognized writer plus I’ll get experience editing which is so important. Alhumdulillah for everything.

I only have two issues: getting to work (its a 90 minute commute) by shuttle which has no shuttle pick-up point in a place that is easily accesible for me. Its incredibly exhausting and disheartening. God, what I would do for a car.

Oh! I’m also hoping, inshAllah to get involved with a radio station offered through a sister-site to my own and to have my own show! Ya rabi! I think this job has really opened a lot of paths for me and I’m so happy.

I slammed a window (Global Ed) and God opened a very large door.

Those are some nice bananas, eh?

Too Cool For School

Seriously I am enjoying this teaching way too much. Yea they still really don’t have their ish together, but at least the manager had the good grace to look ashamed when he came up empty-handed today and one of my students took pity on me and brought in a whiteboard eraser. I guess he felt bad that I had to wipe down the board with kleenex. It was better than an apple, yo.

I do really enjoy it and I hope it stays that way; I’m almost afraid something is going to happen and I will hate it.

I need some pessimist-B-gone spray or something.

You Call That English?

Everything here is held together with scotch tape, donkey spit, and sheer determination.

This isn’t an ‘I hate Egypt’ post either because I’ve actually gotten used to it and am no longer phased by the completely illogical methods through which things are run here.

Now I just laugh and figure out how to still do what I need to do with nothing but a rubber band, a screw driver, and a couple of pieces of extra bubble gum.

Monday evening was my first day of work and would it surprise anyone that I taught two classes on my first night? No? One of the teachers told me he arrived in Cairo Monday morning and they had him teaching classes Monday night. Welcome to Egypt, now get to work. For training I spent twenty of the sixty minutes they gave us asking him questions about the book and the methods the program requires (none.) The rest of the forty we sat around talking about books, philosophy, and world travel.

Then- just to illustrate how small an 18 million person city actually can be- as I stood waiting for the taxi to take me from the headquarter branch (and by branch I mean the original flat the company made into an office) to the branch where I will be teaching a man came up to me and asked me, in Arabic, if I was the wife of Mr. MM. Uhm, why yes, yes I am. He looked vaguely like one of Mr. MM’s many cousins which is what he turned out to be but having only seen me two times and me having no recollection of ever having met him he recognized me. Weird. He is taking English classes at the main branch. And then, while sitting in the evening after my classes were finished the office boy of the branch I teach at mentioned seeing me in Hurghada in January and after some short sleuthing it turns out that he worked the safari that Mom, Maria, Mr. MM, and I went on. Seriously. Two in one day.

Back to English. I got to the office to begin teaching- as I was sure I would be doing- and for my first class I actually had a book to use but no CD for the listening sections. Nice. For my second class I had NO book and NO CD so I basically partnered up with my youngest student and worked with him from his book. Way to plan ahead O’ bosses mine.

Like I said, barely phased me. In FACT- had they actually had their shiz together I probably would have been surprised.

If they have their shiz together for tomorrow’s classes I will be surprised.

All in all I had a good time, its pretty much exactly what I did for two years in the Language Lab way back when. I taught small groups for French and Spanish- we did the book activities, listened to tapes, and talked about language. Thats what I do now in a nutshell. Armed with a white board and some markers (and possibly a book and hopefully one day a tape) I’m leading my students forward into a brighter, English-filled future.

[cue theme music]

It felt natural to be up in front of students again, I really think that teaching is where I should be. Any fear of public speaking that I had pre-Language Lab was gone by the end of my teaching days there. I had never really thought about where I lost my inhibitions but I know that I aced my Speech class even while being the only student wearing a hijab (and actually being one of only two other women on campus who wore one.) Acing public speaking while looking weird: pwned.

Now of course all of my students are curious as to how I came to Egypt, how I met my husband, and how I became Muslim. But they’re fun, and inquisitive, and ready to learn and that makes classes fun. I’m hoping I will enjoy this job, the one foreseeable problem will be that they have you work straight through without breaks. I work three days a week 4-10 and I have a class from 4-6 (I think I will at least), another class from 6-8, and the last class from 8-10. I’m so glad I am not working that schedule full-time.

And yes they’re bringing teachers over from the States and using them for slave-labour. A turn of the tables don’t you think?

Semi-funemployed

So, yeah, I got another job. Ha! Its cool though, I’ll only be working three evenings a week teaching English to adults. I think its gonna be a blast and I’m looking forward to it. I felt a little bad though because the other American girl who is starting the same time as me took some courses in Alex to get a certification to teach English.

Yeah. I definitely did not. Look, anyone who really wants to get the whole expat experience can come here without the expensive certification and still get a job teaching English. FYI. Don’t waste your time or money.

Zuzu got into the kitchen while we were out (ahem someone left the door open- and it wasn’t me) and she found the bag of catnip. We came home to catnip spread all over the floor and a  stoned feline; apparently we haven’t had the ‘just say no’ talk with her yet. God only knows what she did with the dirty dishes.

Part of what I wrote last night- that was so helpfully deleted by wordpress- was how she is back to her royal pain in the tuckus-ness and alhamdulillah for that. She has starting stealth ninja attacking my heels again as I walk past her favorite ambush spot, she has remembered how much fun it is to throw and chase bottle caps again so now we fall asleep to the symphonic sounds of ‘clackity-clack thud thud piffle clack’ all night long. The only thing missing is the chirping but each day she is becoming more vocal so I’m hoping its just a matter of time. She was at her height of chirpy whilst in heat so I’m worried that she may not chirp now that she has been de-sexed. Seriously though, she is the cutest damn thing with her bottle caps. She carries them in her mouth and the bottle cap is bigger around than her snout is so it’s extra cute and then she’ll throw it into the air for herself and take off running to catch it. We’ll gather up like five of them together and throw them down the hall and she’ll never know which one to go after.  She stalks them, pounces, rolls over on her back and holds them up with her paws. So cute.

I missed her antics.She’s 3abita awy*.

So, I will most likely start work tomorrow- quick turnover considering I just interviewed today- but I’m hoping it will help me keep my days structured. Plus I get to teach again which I haven’t really done since French and Spanish small groups five years ago. I’m excited.

While observing a class today I was reading the multi-lingual writing on a dry-board marker and it was in English, German, and French… or was it? The french line said this:

peut rester jusqu’a 2 semanas sin secarse.

A million brownie points to anyone who can tell me whats weird about that sentence.

*3abita awy= very silly.