On Counting My Blessings: 1

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I saw this thing on Facebook about how to literally count your blessings. Every time something good happens to you you write it down and put in the jar. At the end of the year, you count all the good things.

I’d like to do that, but just my luck, am having trouble finding a jar/container…. ha ha… so for now, I will write things on post-its. So far, I’ve got one “big” thing: Achieved an educational milestone of sorts.  Don’t get it twisted, Gazelle is done with formal education… ha ha… But have been learning about some stuff as of late, started out being something I needed to get some basics on for work, but it’s gone beyond that now. I’m just really surprised at myself because I am learning about things that I never thought I was capable of learning, especially not in the time-frame that I’ve done it.

And I have a certificate to prove it… yay! Alhamdullilah.

Yeah, it’s hokie-ish, but Gazelle still has some tenacity in her. 😀

hmmm as I write this, maybe I will do the count my blessings thing via this blog too… It’s probably a heck of a lot better than all the depressing stuff I have been posting as of late… ha ha.

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I Can’t Fix Everything

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And that is ok with me. I realized this a little while ago and it’s been refreshing to let things go. Maybe it’s the being the (De facto) eldest among my siblings, but I’ve become the De facto mother hen in a lot of different contexts and for different groups of people. That is NOT a role I volunteered to play. Frankly, I am tired of it and so many other things. I acknowledge that until people are real with themselves and about what changes they need to make in life, change will not take root. I know what it feels like to sit with someone for hours as they ask me about planning out scenario a, b, or c and warning them against D and they turn around and pick D anyway… Somehow I started thinking in these contexts that the blame was mine, that I wasn’t convincing enough. But, it’s not about me. It’s not my fault. And most importantly, it’s not my responsibility.

It’s not my job to clean other people’s messes, both literally and figuratively. People wouldn’t believe how apropo this has been for my life…. how for the first time perhaps ever in life, I am letting things and people go… I am letting the chips fall where they may.

The most amazing part is that earth didn’t swallow me or anyone else whole. It’s not my job to fix things. I can’t fix everything. If I spend so much time trying to hold everyone else together, what I eventually end up with is a very broken and fatigued me.

So yeah, going hand in hand with expecting nothing, is being somewhat numb to other people’s life choices… Adults are adults and every adult is entitled to their own decisions and can make up their own mind about whatever they choose to make a priority. Sometimes people will end up making mistakes they would not have had they listened to me… but that is not my fault, that is not my problem. Heck, not just adults, the same goes for any other living thing.

So will continue to do what I can, when  I can, but  I am under no obligation to hold up half the sky for anyone. Gazelle’s shoulders are much too small for all of that.

This affirmation/realization has been quite freeing for me. I can’t fix everything, I am not obligated to fix anything.  I too need to acknowledge what needs to be changed in order for change to take root. And hand in hand with that is undergoing a self valuation… ha ha…

At the end of the day people are people and they will do whatever they feel is in their best interest however narrowly or widely defined those interests are. At the end of the day, my intentions or sincerely wanting the best for myself or person x, y or z may have nothing to do with their intentions towards me or in spite of me: love, respect, kindness, peace, support, none of these are guaranteed to be reciprocated.  And even when they are not reciprocated, it’s not a reflection of my not being good enough.

It’s more about reflecting on the space and time that those individuals take up in my life and adjusting accordingly… whether that means giving them the BOOT! (ha ha)… or just 2% of my concern as opposed to 75…. sigh.

So yeah, I am not taking anything personal… I am also not concerning myself with who might take my words or actions personal either. This is all about expecting nothing and suspending optimism for people and things and ideas that are worth it.

 

 

 

On Baltimore Burning

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No justice, No peace

I watched the drama unfold in Ferguson last summer, mainly through the filter of being a black American ex-pat in the UAE. Now, as summer begins in the US again, this time it’s my home-state that is ground zero for police aggression and black oppression.

It’s surreal. I can’t say I have any strong ties to Baltimore— Maryland is one of those states where your cultural affiliation depends on geographic location, I am culturally a DC metro area person. I would have to live a little further North for Baltimore to be the city that I affiliate with most.

Baltimore has always been like another world to me. When I was younger and not a US Citizen, my mom would talk make to the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) for one reason or another and I hated going there. Not because of the government bureaucracy but because it meant going to Baltimore, a city that just always left me feeling strange.

Orioles park sparked no emotion in me; not a baseball fan and besides, in our part of Maryland, the Washington Redskins were pretty much the only team that mattered. The Harbor was cute, but I was always struck by how strange the city’s set-up seemed: One block was pristine, the type of city street you send your kids on field trips to go see. Then next block, looked like the most dilapidated thing you could ever imagine. This contrast, of rich and poor was always unsettling.

Once, my mom got lost and we ended up going deeper into the city. I can still remember thinking “Good Lord, DC has poor neighborhoods, but not THIS poor.” I wasn’t sure what a crack head looked like, but I was pretty sure that I had seen more than few during our 30 minute detour. Baltimore always made me uneasy and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Now, I guess it was the black poverty unlike anything I had ever seen.

Now it seems, the chickens are coming home to roost. A population that has be degraded and derogated for too long is speaking out and demanding justice while hoping for true equality. People who have been cramped and stuffed in boxes where they couldn’t even begin to dream of a better life are now so fed up of the darkness. The national spotlight turns once again to a unjust system that seems to let darker hued people down.

I hope that something good comes out of this young man’s death, that racist policies are reconsidered and that an end comes to this “New Jim Crow” that’s not just a southern thing; it’s unfortunately an American thing.

What am I Doing Here?

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Needless to say it’s been a long time…

I am currently back in the States and just in time for Thanksgiving, which was a very unexpected blessing.  I totally thought my Thanksgiving 2014 would be surrounded by friends and acquaintances, but I am fortunate enough to spend it with family.

This blog has been getting no love as of late, ever since I moved… ha ha… It’s not that there is nothing to write about, it’s not that there isn’t time.  It’s just that I’m not making the time anymore. Besides, there are far more poignant commentaries out there on Ferguson, Bill Cosby rape allegations, Iggy Azalea, ISIS and the state of the world in general.

In real life, I’ve talked about many of these topics till I’m red in the face (which is saying a lot because  I am rather swarthy). America, life is complicated. I recognize that fact and am bracing for the full-circle realization that that’s just how things roll.

Ok, now this post is sounding super cryptic.  But suffice to say, I feel like I’m on the precipice of major life shifts yet again.  I would rather not talk/write about them till the dust settles and all that is or is not happening makes sense to me.

I turned 30 and although I did not mention it here, it was with much fanfare… Wanting to be 30 in a space that was more “exotic” and uncharted for me, I visited a friend in Cyprus…. it was inspiring and humbling to be in a space that was so unfamiliar to me yet, rich with it’s own idiosyncrasies and histories…. Kind of like when I went to Italy in January (well almost, I still think Florence was the more enthralling of the two trips).

About a month ago, I was on a plan again, this time headed for Shanghai. It has been a while since I’ve been in a country where I spoke zero of the language, no one looked like me and no one spoke English.  It was a throw back to my first time in Morocco, only worse.  But I persevered.  Shanghai is an amazing city and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.  I would never want to live there, but it’s an awesome place for architecture and cuisine no doubt.

And now, after a bit of touring in the US (the midwest and west coast) I am back home: munching on the snacks and other foods of my childhood that the Arab World just doesn’t have and thinking, plotting and reflecting on the past year and my next steps.

I have learned a lot this past year, and am still growing: One is never too old to realize an important truth.

What am I doing here?  GAzelle has no idea.

Lord Help Me, I’ve Been Mr. Darcied- On being amazing (for a black woman)

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I have had it America! (Africa, Asia and whomever else might read this) I’ve Just had it!

Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite Jane Austen novel. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a character Mr. Darcy who falls in love with the protagonist. But he’s richer than her, so he’s conflicted: how can he possibly be in love with someone beneath him?

He professes his love to her in an almost insulting manner. Darcy basically tells her , “I know that I am better than you in every conceivable way, but I love you despite you being beneath me…” Yeah it was real romantic…. NOT.

Really?!! Tell me more!

That scene was almost a watershed moment for me in young, naïve not really exposed to love experiences mind. I thought Darcy was awful and was so happy when the protagonist told him to shove his crappy proposal.

Well, 12 years later as an almost 30 something, I am finally getting better at recognizing when I am being Darcied. The latest offender was the last effing straw… he’s the reason I came up with the term.

It became obvious as my interactions with him made me feel like he was thinking along these lines… Gazelle you are awesome, but I am X race and therefore better than you. You have no right to look at my faults because I am x race and while you are awesome, you are only awesome… for black girl.

Basically, he’s a guy that a woman like me in his community would not necessarily jump at the chance to be with but me… oh yeah he had it in the bag. :-/   I was practically told what I have in my blog title… I’m amazing (that I know). But his actions led me to believe that I was being Darcied big time.

So here are some clues to when you are being Darcied… this could be the case if the person in question:

  1. Gives you weird, backhanded compliments (you’re smart for a blonde, educated for a [insert group name here]
  2. Assumes that since you are a member of a certain group, that you must be super honored/excited/pressed to be their companion
    1. If they consider it an effrontery that you would even think about not staying with them even though they like/low you DESPITE coming from a particular group… no need to look for further signs. YOU ARE BEING DARCIED.
  3. Criticizes people from the group you belong to and then tries to save their rude comment, with a “no offense” or a “but I don’t mean you”
  4. Thinks you are some sort of exception to the rule when it comes to the group you belong to and your manners, education, morals etc.

 

The thing about being Mr. Darcied is that there is nothing wrong with you, the Mr. Darcy just thinks there is and can’t understand why he/she likes you anyway. It’s a Freudian sinkhole.

There are others, but these are the big red flags for me. Gazelle has no time for the Darcies of this world… unless they are reformed, come to his senses type Darcies.

And don’t be fooled, as in the case of the original Darcy, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a race or class thing: you can be Darcied for just about anything, (size would be the part three of the big three)… people look down on each other for really stupid reasons. That is what 20 something me is coming away with as I prepare, InshAllah to meet 30 something me.

But yeah for me, it has tended to be a race issue. Somehow people think that because I studied other cultures I somehow do not love my own and want nothing more than to be absorbed into theirs?

That’s what it looks like when people assume I am not proud/happy/content with being black….

 

Ok, this is the end of my rant. no wait, this is the end of my rant:

I am precious, it’s society that’s a piece of shit… that makes so much more sense… words to live by…

خذي شايب يدلعك ولا تأخذي صبي يولعك: Marry an old man who will spoil you, not a young one who will only give you headache

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A few days ago on Facebook, my status was the title of this post.

After a looong dry spell, I had an unexpected brush with the possibility for louuuuuuuuve…. Ha ha…

 

The suitor was cute, educated, spoke at least three languages well (including English!… ha ha) and for whatever reason was impressed with me. There was only one problem …

 

Okay one main one among many that had yet to be discovered:  He is old… much too old, for me. He doesn’t look it, which MashAllah is good  for him, but the fact still remains that he more than 10 (but less than 20—- and no it’s not 19) years older than I am.  I was bothered by that fact.  The context, I will spare,  but he’s a serious minded individual looking to settle down in late age.

I am no spring chicken, but damn! I’m not Catherine Zeta-Jones or Celine Dion. For whatever reason I have been binging on Romantic comedies and Disney Classics: Love stories and then some… I think they messed with my head ya’ll!

I did some reflecting and realized and said to myself that this is an individual that is looking to get serious very soon and I am not in that zone.  It wouldn’t be right to just go along for the get along.

But part of me did some reflecting and said, hmmmm … I’m awesome, I know that. But, how can I tell if this person recognizes that or is just getting the best that he can get now that he’s old(er) and perhaps can’t catch the PYTs of his own race. (Yup, he’s not black).  Being here has made me even more sensitive to this phenomenon: Older (usually) white men bagging young(er) beautiful black women.

 

Something like this… Love is does not have an age, I know, I know. But…

 

Now this guy is not white, but he’s not from an ethnic group that completely embraces black people (are there any that do???!!!). And I just can’t tell if he was attracted to the novelty of the black girl who not only speaks Arabic, but his dialect as well— and I didn’t want to discover what someone would probably never admit anyway.

 

Not every man is Joe DeBlasio, you know!…. wait is his first name even Joe? or did I just make that up?

His directness took me off guard, but then I realize that older men have no time to waste. I, on the other hand am not in quite so much a haste.  One of my friends made a good point, her dad is ten years older than her mom and now that they are older he can’t be as active as she is. Then I remembered that my dad was 11 years older than my mom and he died, leaving her with little kids to raise at a pretty young age. Then I started thinking about Celine Dion (praying her husband pulls through) and I wondered if this was something really worth trying out to see if it fit.

I am not one for “practice” and see where it goes in relationships. Things are less messy that way.

I mean, look at me writing a journal post about something that is a whole lot of nothing, but because it very easily could have, has got me thinking, reflecting etc.

I guess I’ve realized that talking to people for the purpose of marriage is heavy stuff, and I’m not sure I am cut out for it… it’s too much pressure…. Ha ha… then again, the last time I did it, it was with someone older than myself and with some of the same time of our lives differences coming up.

Oh well.  I guess when you end up alone after a little bit of excitement, the threat of spinsterhood rears it’s ugly head in your subconscious.

 

And this is what it says…Guess it’s a good thing I stopped watching Glee when Finn died…

In the mean time I can stare and continually be rattled by the new coworker who looks just like the high school sweetheart…. How fitting that I be around such a constant reminder of the folly of teens and early twenties on the eve of my turning thirty…. #FML

 

… No, Rabna Kareem, so I am keeping hope alive that the next frog I kiss (figuratively) will be a prince.

 

What 29 year old me has to say to teenage me…

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Yesterday, I was talking on the computer (cuz you know how international calling goes these days, right?… haha) and doing mindless facebook clicking: One friend’s profile led to another friend’s profile which led to the profile of someone I am not longer in contact with on FB or otherwise. Nothing serious, I just had a phase when I went through and removed most of my high school connections. At the time it was freeing.

At any rate, this no longer FB friend is doing well (and I had no doubt that he would) He’s apparently in medical school or maybe graduated from there and has a cute girlfriend/fiancé. All in all kudos to him. I am writing this entry about this encounter because this guy used to be that boy: The one that was soooo into me (and I had no idea why) and would be annoying/creepy about it. Well that is how I felt about it then. He was never stalkerish, but would wait for me in the mornings in my classroom. He had no business there, no friends there per se, so it was painfully obvious to my friends what he was doing. (un)Fortunately, through no fault of my own, I was habitually late to that class… ha ha…. But he faithfully waited like everyday for moooonths. On the rare occasion I actually got there before he had to make a dash to his own, all he would do was smile with one of those goofy, awkward , dorky smiles you see on tv and say hello.

 

Sometimes its better for all if things are left unsaid… ha ha…

 

Ugh, I was teased quite a bit for that. But, that was then, and this is now. My how things have changed! Ha ha… First off, NO! seeing his FB profile did not change my mind about not wanting him…. Ha ha… I’m genuinely happy for said brother.

Looking at his profile just made me think about how much life changes. Gazelle has gone from pushing 30 to being damn near dragged over the line into the next decade and has started to think about how have I changed.

I always like to think that it’s the people around me who change, but I, at my core and for several layers of epidermis after that, am still the same old girl from the block. But Alhamdullilah that is not true. I have matured in my thinking about a a whole slew of things. For one thing, I could have handled the situation with Early Morning Romeo a lot more smoothly. I was never mean (was old enough to know better than that!) but I can’t help but cringe at my immaturity in all of our interactions. I can’t turn back time, I can’t change a thing, but if I could, 29 year old me would whisper in 16 or 17 year old’s me’s ear and say… get it right girl! Ha ha….

What else would 29 year old me tell teenage me? Hmmmm… probably something about embracing that aweseome size 6 body while it lasts, because aside from that fall semester after your extremely malnourished junior year abroad, it’s NEVER EVER EVER EVER getting back together…. Ha ha… but seriously, I would tell me that the things that I think hold constant aren’t necessarily true.

 

Yeah I used to be pretty badass, now it’s all gone… sigh… wait, it probably was never there like thaaaat to begin with… ha ha…. The past is always how you remember it, right….

I would encourage her to follow her mind a little more than her heart, because the heart can say some crazy ish that makes no sense and will take on wild goose chases for things, careers and people you can’t have. But your mind knows that you know better than that… ha ha… So yeah maybe teenage me would not have been so caught up in the other point on that – Gazelle- early morning romeo- Mr. ugh, I can’t believe that was a thing for as it was

Triangle…. (Because that was a mess and made me a mess, and was full of cringe-worthy episodes).

Oh God, if that was the higlight of my love life…. yikes!!!!!!!!!!! I demand a refund!… ha ha…

Maybe I would have buckled down and been a computer science major and had more options. Maybe I would have know that just because a 6 foot three guy with a basketball player’s build, Elite University degree and killer smile pops out of no-where and we happen to hit it off, it doesn’t mean anything…. Because you will discover that he kind of sucks as a person… ha ha….

 

He sucks, like as a person… he just, sucks 😦 … ha ha…

Naw, what I would probably tell teenage me is that you smart, kind and important so own it! Sometimes I look at older pictures of myself and sigh because I don’t think I saw then the awesome person that I see now.

So yeah , I guess that’s 29 year old me’s advice to 30 year old me: See the awesomeness that you are NOW, relish it, embrace it, and OWN it!

Even if the scale is a little (or a lot) heavier, even if you get tired and can’t party like you think you could have when you used to… ha ha… you will probably look back and think, dang I was so cool. Let’s hope this time around, you don’t say, I wish I had know that back then.

 

So Yeah, all of this to say it’s time to reflect, on a lot of experiences and interactions and figure out what pearls of wisdom 29 year old me can give to 30 year old me and probably wishes she could give to 16 year old me… ha ha…

Expect more posts to come…