Friday, January 31, 2014

Aisha's Friday Roundup #4

Things have been super busy on my end lately. So busy I haven't had a chance to update my blog as much as I'd like. And, well, I like my blog. And I miss it. I read Melissa Ford's Friday link round-up and was amazed to see it was her 479th Friday roundup. For 479 Fridays, Mel has updated her favorite links all while raising kids, cooking fabulous meals, writing novels, and managing a wildly popular blog. It made me think, I want to get back to regular blogging, and in that vein, why not start now, on Friday and restart my link round ups?  Instead of sharing them randomly on facebook and twitter, why not just share them [in all their random glory] here?  If you reading this blog, we share something in common, so hoping something among these may be interesting for you to read as well.

The Atlanta snowpocalypse. This past Tuesday, my spouse off to work, my eldest at nursery school, and the baby in bed fast asleep, I got a call from the heating company. You see, our heater broke earlier last week and though it was going in and out, it decided with the polar vortex and all, 25 years was a good run and it was signing out. Which, with two kids, and seriously cold weather, was a difficult situation even with two space heaters doing their best to warm us up. Thankfully that Tuesday we got a call from the heating company of a last minute cancellation and would we like them to come by right then and replace the heater? Why, yes. Yes we would. As they replaced, I saw a snow flake, which prompted me to behave much like this image and call K to rush and get the kiddo a big bowl of pho and hurry home:
Image source here
The heater fixed, the heating guys en route to a new call, we sat down to pho goodness and took the kids outside to make some feeble awesome snowmen. It wasn't until we saw a stranger walking across our yard, who told us he was leaving the site of some seriously bad traffic and heading home, that we got online to see what was going on. And. Oh my. People stranded. Kids sleeping on buses. No exaggeration, what many of my friends and fellow citizens endured was horrific. I've seen a lot of raised eyebrows and can't blame the initial reaction, I mean how does ATL come to a literal standstill at the sight of two inches of snow? These two articles [here, and here] explain why quite succinctly which, in a nutshell: Urban sprawl, poor transit services, and race.

The writing. My lovely agent Taylor Martindale has many lovely and marvelous clients, and today, one of them, Emery Lord [who has a book coming out soon!] shared an interesting piece on writing Young Adult and reconciling it with issues related to feminism. From there, I found another post which really resonated with me, about why she's proud to be a reject:
In publishing, it's no secret that you have to learn to take the proverbial punches--from the harsh critiques to the nights where you work for hours only to feel like you made no progress, from rejections to self-doubt. But don't wait for a High Moment to feel like a boss. Yes, you'll feel incredible on the landmark days when you finish a draft or get a full request or an offer. Those are the days where you start to reap what you've been sowing all along. [But] it's the Low Moments that weed out the people who don't want it enough
The music. Kiddie music, that is. My fabulous photographer friend Reem recently introduced me to the music of Dawud Wharnsby. His music is religious and geared towards young children and my kid has listened to the CD cover-to-cover at least twenty-five times since in the course of one week. I'm not the biggest fan of kiddie music, but this is seriously good stuff I like listening to also. As a kid I made up my own Eid songs, and its so nice to see how many options our kids have to see themselves in art and literature. And that's why its so important to support artists like Dawud not just with our praise, but with our financial support to help them keep on keeping on. And buying his music is thankfully a win-win situation.

The No. You're kidding. No, really. What? I have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. I think its one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I do believe it was the right thing to do for my family while I understand that is not the case for everyone. Well, apparently now, in the UAE a law has been enacted that now mandates by law that women breastfeed for two years. Yes. Mandatory breastfeeding. Two years. And if you can't produce breastmilk? Prove it. Then, get a west nurse. I stared at this article for a good two minutes. Speechless, but heartbroken for the women affected by this law.

The reading. I am counting down the days until my friend Ayesha Mattu heads to town for her book tour for Salaam, Love. As the follow-up anthology to Love, Insh'Allah, Salaam, Love is a collection of pieces examining love through the lens of Muslim American men. I can't wait to read the book and I can't wait to have chai with one of the sweetest people I know. If you want to know more about the book check out the book trailer here and judge for yourself. I for one, can't wait.

The discrimination no innocent person should have to endure.  If you're Muslim in America and have returned back home to America, your beloved homeland, after traveling abroad, you or someone you love has likely experienced a situation outlined in this article. And if you haven't, watch the film adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist which shows a harrowing and humiliating interrogation for a man who did nothing wrong but is debased without apology or explanation. It may feel over the top, but it's not. It happens and is happening. And people I know, family members and friends, US Citizens, born and raised in the nifty fifty have gone through it. When my friend Simeen, shared this article and her own story, I felt stunned until I remembered that when it comes to this particular form of discrimination it doesn't look beyond much past your religious identity. If you know Simeen, you know she's a sweet, friendly, book-loving, foodie-extraordinaire. And this, her story, it's not okay. It is never okay:
My family was detained for hours in Miami as we returned from a vacation abroad. We were quietly pulled to the side as we went through immigration and ushered into a room full of people. We were told to sit down and wait- we weren't allowed to ask questions (why are we being detained being the most important), we weren't allowed to send texts or make phone calls (which is difficult when there are people waiting to pick you up from the airport, and you have no way of letting them know where you are), and 100% treated like we had done something wrong. It felt like the holding cell of a prison. Don't stand up, don't talk to your neighbor, sit there and wait your turn. I have never experienced that before but it was terrifying. When it was finally our "turn" hours later, we were interrogated about places we'd never been (they seemed particularly keen on asking my sister about her trips to Yemen, where she had never been at all), our finances, and our jobs. I am a US Citizen and it frustrates me that this can happen to any of us- detained for no reason, harassed because of our names and our religion. I love this country, and I'd never leave it, but we have a lot to improve upon. 
But to end on a lighter, though related note. Jennifer Zobair, author of Painted Hands, recently wrote a piece about how American Muslim Women are the new normal and how we really wish the media and public perception would start seeing us the way we see ourselves instead of the tired cliches and stereotypes that permeate most of what we read and see. Do we have issues as a religious community and within our cultural institutions? Absolutely. We have much to work on, but its not the full story to focus on only the sensational without giving any attention to all that is working well. And so much is. If you don't know any fabulous Muslim women, please check out Sabina's wonderful space to highlight them at Muslimah Montage. I'm so thankful for artists and writers like Jennifer, Sabina, Ayesha Mattu, and Dawud Wharnsby, Muslims who are creating the new Muslim narrative in America and choosing to tell our stories ourselves. Beautiful, ugly, whatever they may be, they are ours to share. Thankful we're doing just that.

If you're a regular reader, you know I write about a variety of topics. I would really appreciate your help, is there any particular topic you enjoy reading? As I try to figure out time to make space to write more, tailoring to what interests you, interests me, so your feedback would be much appreciated. Hope you guys are having a great Friday, any interesting links you've come across? Please share!

2 comments:

Julia Munroe Martin said...

Great roundup! I have been feeling the same way… too busy to blog at times, and this is a great idea I may try. I enjoy your blog because it's always something different and new and interesting -- which I hope you'll keep up. And I really love reading your thoughts on current events and Muslim issues.

mystic-soul said...

Atlanta snow fiasco was a bummer!

When Salam, Love is coming out?

Every time I enter USA after visiting Canada or outside...I have this fear somewhere deep inside because of my faith and country of origin. Not a good feeling

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