Friday, May 24, 2013

Breaking News

Asalamu Alaykom,

Over the past month, all of us have heard the breaking news about yet another act of barbaric terror.  What absolutely breaks our hearts is that the perpetrators call themselves Muslim.

It is not for me to decide who is Muslim and who is not.  What I can say is that the killing of innocent lives is haram; against Islam.  Allah is The Only Judge.

For those who act as judge, jury and executioner, there's too much right and wrong; black and white; good and bad.  We are not the people of dichotomy.  We are gray.  No one is an angel.  We are the strangers of this world who don't fit neatly into someone else's category.  We do our best and yet fear we haven't done enough.  We strive.  We hope.  We don't hurt.

I haven't wanted to write about the violence because I need peace.  We all need peace actually.  Focusing too much attention on the problem becomes problematic in itself.  I might send out a tweet but I didn't want to write a blog posting.

So, I kept focusing on building my life and supporting my family.  I kept going into work and teaching children.  I took a vacation.  I needed to stay on my straight path and not get distracted.

Yet, it has become increasingly clear that we all need to speak up.  We can't keep going without telling the world that we won't allow violence.  We don't condone killing.  We will not support segmenting society into divisive armies.

This stand against violence starts within ourselves.  We will not self-harm.  We will not harm others.  We will not raise our children to be haters and bullies.  We will not be abusive to our spouses.  We will not be crude and rude to our friends or behind their backs.

We need to reach out.  We have members in our communities who need a word of kindness.  We have acquaintances in our sphere who would love a better chance to get to know us.  We have family members who are estranged from us.

There are many evils knocking at our door.  KEEP THAT DOOR SHUT.  You know the movies, the stories, the sites, the jokes and you know that a mind full of garbage can't grow and change.  If you hear that nagging voice in your head telling you to do wrong, then tell it to get out.  GET OUT!

You are in control of your head.  You know who is good for you and who is bad.  You know what brings you closer to peace and what takes you away.  If you don't feel at peace, then stop what you're doing.  Make a better choice.  You must narrow the gap between what your beliefs and your actions.

All of us live in this world together and it is our world to share.  Maybe each one of us can improve our little corner of the world.  I know I can be better than I've been.  I can inshahallah.  That effort will only be a drop in the ocean but it is what we can do and it's better than assuming state of helplessness.




May God grant wisdom and patience to the suffering.  May God expel the wrongdoers from their hiding places and enable their capture.  May God protect the innocents.  May God heal the grieving families.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eat Pizza, Pray, Love

Asalamu Alaykom,

This has been a hard week in the labeling department of Yosra, Inc.  They sure have been busy!

I have been called:



Actually, that was within the same phrase so I'll amend that.  Let me start over...

I have been called:

cruel and heartless,

a horrible mother,

not a true friend,

and not a good Muslim.

I've been told that:

I'm ugly,

I'm stupid,

I'm irresponsible,

I'm too loud,

I'm not funny,

I'm out of line,

and I'm better off dead.


This is the end of that week.  The week is done.  Alhumdulillah.

I told my husband that Mr. Boo and I would be needing pizza for dinner tonight.  No one eats pizza but us.  The rest of the family seems happy with rice and chicken but I can't eat that endlessly.  I can't eat it on Thursday.  I need my T.G.I.T. (Thank God it's Thursday) food.  I need a break from what was and a hope that I can start re-establishing what will be better.

I looked forward to that pizza.  It isn't exactly pizza, but more on that later.  Sure, it isn't Fat Lorenzo's but Pizza King is the closest facsimile I can get delivered to my home next to the Pyramids.

I realize that I've got a refrigerator full of leftovers from downstairs.  I have carefully brought them up, covered them up, yet not eaten them up.  I didn't really like that food the first time I saw it.  Alhumdulillah, it's halal but it wasn't enlivening me.  It wasn't me.

The Land of Misfit Food will soon be cleaned out and donated to the sheep on the roof.  He's only here until Eid Al-Adha.  He might as well enjoy a home cooked meal while he can (before he becomes the home cooked meal).

I don't have to accept what other people give me.  I don't have to keep holding on to it because I don't know what to do with it.  I know I don't want it!  It is depressing to horde the horrible.  I truly need to release.

When I walked in the door, my husband was still mad at me.  It sucks to not be welcomed home.  It sucked even more that he didn't get our pizza.  As he cut his toenails in the entryway, and seemed to talk to his feet more than to me, I wondered why I had hoped so much and received so little?

I told him how we got home. "The tuk-tuk was on it's way to get gas so it didn't take us.  The carriage driver saw us.  When he went past, I told him, 'Mashahallah,' for his baby horse walking alongside the big horse.  He offered to give us a ride.  I told him that I didn't have any money.  At first, I thought only Mr. Boo should ride with him because...the man...was sitting on the seat and I didn't want to sit close to him.  But then he moved and I agreed to jump up.  He took us home."

It was miraculous to me.  Earlier today, I could not have imagined I'd see a baby horse yet I live in the perfect spot for it.  It's a world where I've got to navigate a  way to our street with my feet or a tuk-tuk yet I arrived like Cinderella in a carriage.

I prayed asr.  I didn't feel well from the bus ride.  I didn't feel good from my cold reception.  I went to lie down.  I cried.  The week had been stressful.  Even strong women cry.  Maybe we cry more because it hurts to be misperceived as though we were heartless, cruel and bad.

It is crazy-making to feel that you've given your all and to get less than you wanted in return.  However, we have to give because of who we are not because of who the others are.  God always knows what we've given.  With God is our true reward.

So, I blabbered on to my husband when he came upstairs.  He prayed.  He agreed to order the pizza after he ate downstairs.  We would wait.

You know what?  It was fine.  I made popcorn to hold us over.  I put in "Eat, Pray, Love," and I felt some release of my own stuff crowding my head.

I've made my own life.  I'm nearing 45.  I'm often misunderstood and mislabeled but I'm not easily misled any more.  Maybe I have spent a week wondering how so many people got me wrong.  Now?  I think I need to spend a weekend enjoying what I've gotten right.

The pizza was good.  There were eight (count 'em) little plastic letter Ys keeping the box from ruining the cheese.  God bless!  I envision some crafty necklace with them.

The pizza doesn't have sauce.  I realize that it gets disqualified as being real pizza then but it's still tasty.  Even bad pizza is still good (whereas the same is not true for sex...bad sex is just bad).  In Egypt, the restaurants include a little ketchup packet.  I never wanted to use ketchup on my pizza because IT'S KETCHUP.  Yet, tonight I opened the packet.  I realized something huge:  those cheap packets of ketchup  don't actually taste like ketchup and they really do taste good on the pizza that doesn't really taste like pizza.  Subhanallah.

I don't know what you're going to get out of this post but I hope it's some clarity.  We all have needs.  We need to hold tight to them.  Others are not always going to support us.  That's OK because God will send glorious good times to us when we need them.  Keep light.  Keep loving.  Believe that you don't have to eat the shit that others want to serve up to you.  You can plan your party and enjoy your nights and days.  Don't be so set in your ways that you can't accept what is available to make your life better.  Open up to what is untried and go ahead; taste what you are curious about.  It beats the status quo which has been beating you up.

And say, "alhumdulillah"  a lot.

Alhumdulillah for everything.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rush Hour in Nazlet Samaan

Asalamu Alaykom,

It was right before rush hour today when my bus driver decided to take a shortcut through one of Nazlet Samaan's little side streets. He was going to hurry so he could drop off his last three passengers.  Around the corner he went.  There, in front of him was a slow moving, horse drawn carriage.  My little neighborhood next to the Pyramids is known for its camel and horse stables.  This was not what the driver needed.

At first, I only saw the carriage through the windshield.  The driver honked and I saw the real problem.  Walking behind the carriage was another horse.  He wasn't moving along with his master in the carriage with the lead horse.  This other horse had stopped and was standing still.  We were bumper to backside.

The driver wasn't having any of this nonsense.  It was Thursday afternoon and he had somewhere else to be!  He honked the horn, as if a horse obeys the laws of the road.  The horse just stood there.  After a split second, the driver honked the horn again and stayed on it longer this time.

The horse responded.  He slowly lifted up his tail and indicated exactly what he thought of the driver's antics.  The driver quickly backed up the minibus.  He waited at a safe distance until the horse finished his business.  The driver wasn't going to honk any more. The horse had the last turd word.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Arablish on the Menu

Asalamu Alaykom,

It's always a good time to nibble on a little Arablish.

                                                    Photo Credit Matthew Teller

And you were worried you might not understand the menu on the Nile cruise!  

"What is that coming out for our second course?"


"Is it real crap or imitation crap?"

 Make sure to save room for desert  dessert.

I know I've been teaching too much literary criticism when I read the menu and think "foreboding".  I felt rather anxious about actually ordering "boding" until I read it aloud.  Go ahead!  It doesn't make any sense until you do.  

Yep, it's pudding.  That B/P confusion in Arabic rears its ugly head.  Al-Masri is a good restaurant I'd recommend in Aswan.  However, I didn't leave room for desert dessert so don't ask me how the boding pudding was.