#AtoZChallenge Day 22: Vicarious Living

V is for Vicarious Living

V

While I sit here and sip my green matcha tea, allow me to live vicariously through this blog and indulge in my dreams a little.

If I got everything I wanted, I would have a special tea station in my kitchen. A table or shelf or corner of the room specific for hot beverage goodness. On the left of the table would be a beautiful decorated hot water boiler and whatever innovative coffee maker that’s around at the time.

On the right, all of the options. Coffee. Different flavors. A rotating holder of all different kinds of K-cups, if those are still around. Caffeinated options for the morning. Decaf for the evenings.

And of course hot chocolate. Because you’re never too old to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and whipped cream.

You could open a drawer underneath and behold all of the tea options. Green Tea. Black Tea. Mint Tea. White Tea. Chamomile. All of the flavored variants. Caffeinated, Decaf, and Herbal.

Then there would be a portion of the table for sweeteners. Sugar, white and brown. Honey. Agave syrup if that’s still a thing. Splenda for my diabetic fam.

Look up, and there is a cabinet full of all different kinds of mugs. On one shelf, the pretty designs. Floral patters. Pastel colors. Curvy shapes. On another shelf, the sentimental ones. The Harry Potter mug. The Super Junior mug. The mug with some brand name on it that we got for free at a fundraising dinner.

When people come over, and they need some warmth and love, I’ll direct them to my tea station. And they can choose their drink of choice and vessel of choice and make their own custom beverage. And we’ll sit back with our steaming mugs and enjoy each others’ company.


As long as one is okay with the dream not coming true, I see no harm in indulging every now and then. This is the vicarious living post, so leave me a comment with your dream. If you got everything you ever wanted, tell me one part of that picture. Take a moment. Live vicariously.

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#AtoZChallenge Day 21: Uncertainty

U is for Uncertainty

U

One of the things that makes me most uncomfortable is uncertainty. And at this stage of my life, practically everything about my future is uncertain.

Education Level. Job. Method of Transportation. Relationship Status. Income. Appearance.

I honestly cannot picture what any of it will look like.

A year ago, a teacher asked me to imagine myself five years from now. I couldn’t do it for the life of me. Then he asked me to imagine myself ten years from now, and that one was surprisingly much easier. Because ten years from now, I hope that all of the uncertainty will be sorted out and I’ll have the life I imagine “real adult me” having.

The next five years I feel will be a perpetual “sorting out” phase where I’ll have no idea which way is up except that image of my 30-something year old self.

Sipping tea. Taking care of the kids. Writing my next novel. InshaAllah.

Until then, who the hell knows.

#AtoZChallenge Day 20: Trigger Warnings

T is for Trigger Warnings

T

Lately, I’ve been seeing “trigger warnings” for virtually everything.

Trigger Warning: mentions of abuse

#triggerwarning: character death

tw // food

That last one was a legitimate tweet I saw.

I understand warning readers about disturbing images. Rape, self-harm, and anything else explicit should have some kind of warning, even if it’s at least “mature content.”

But sometimes it just gets to be excessive. When we have to warn people about “mentions of” anything, we are assuming that the audience is so fragile that seeing a single word will trigger a panic episode. Monitoring for that should not be the responsibility of the person posting. If someone is in that fragile of a state, they need more help than a friendly internet person typing “tw.”

I find this especially frustration when it comes to posting fictional writing online. Giving a story a maturity rating is legitimate and necessary, but I have a problem as a writer when the trigger warnings end up turning into spoilers. I have a story I’m in the process of writing that involves a character death, but I don’t want to give that away right after the title. For the sake of the story, some things need to remain a mystery or at least be given the opportunity to slowly develop while taking the reader along for the ride. How am I supposed to do that when common courtesy is starting to involve spoiling all of the secrets up front?

I understand that some people have real illnesses that make reading and watching difficult and triggering, but this is the internet. You never know what you’re going to come across. Rather than creating trigger warning after trigger warning and sheltering an increasingly overprotected generation, we should be shifting the focus on symptom management. You have ___ issue? Let’s give you the resources to help you self-soothe when you are inevitably faced with your triggers.

Sidenote: I have been seeing a disturbing amount of my online peers claim to suffer from anxiety. I really hope these are symptoms that are being professionally dealt with and not simply self-diagnosed and self-medicated. That helps no one.

#AtoZChallenge Day 19: Standards of Living

S is for Standards of Living

S

Does such a thing exist as a universally accepted standard of living? Meaning, is there a line that all people generally understand not to cross?

I took an ethics class last year and we spent a couple of lectures discussing “universal truths.” For example, we debated the morality of killing and if killing can ever universally be understood as unjustified. That got me wondering if there is anything that is universally understood to be unethical.

With the trend now of “you do you” there doesn’t seem to be any standards of behavior anymore. Take public nudity for example: some people will agree that there is no question about some form of clothing needed to be worn in public, yet others will believe with the same conviction that being naked isn’t hurting anyone so why should a person be banned from doing so?

Is there anything that we can go to court and argue is a universally accepted standard of living that needs to be respected?

Haha. How American of me. The first thing I think of is going to court.

It’s also ironic because alhamdulillah, I have yet to ever step into a courtroom.

When talking about this topic with my mom, she suggested protection of children as an area in which everyone is in agreement, which I wholeheartedly agree with…until I remember that police brutality is an issue that unfortunately often involves kids.

What do you think?

 

#AtoZChallenge Day 18: Rut

R is for Rut…

R.jpg

…Because that’s what I feel like I’m stuck in.

It’s the middle of the month and blogging every day is starting to take a toll on my energy and motivation. I was so excited at the beginning of the month for all of the topics I was going to cover, but this week I seem to have completely forgotten that excitement. I originally had a totally different topic for today, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

Today was a Ramadan-worthy day. Full of changes of plan and patience needed on my part. For the first time in months, I had created a solid schedule for myself for the day, hitting all of the tasks I needed to get done in a reasonable and timely manor.

Then I went to work and was unexpectedly given a huge task that I had little prior experience with.

When I got home and began to write my posts for “R,” I found myself at a loss for what to write. By the time I finally got going, I let myself be pulled into a conversation about a touchy subject that left me nothing but agitated.

Then before I could get back to work, I was pulled away again because a family member needed a ride.

In all of the craziness, I ended up accidentally missing Asr prayer.

Now I’m here, hours behind on the schedule that I was so excited about following. Wondering if I’ll ever be able to create a schedule for myself and stick to it.

I’m in a rut. But I keep reminding myself not to let it get me down. A lot of what happened today was out of the ordinary, a bad combination of coincidences. Tomorrow is a new day. Next week is a new week. God does not burden a soul with more than it can bear.

#AtoZChallenge Day 17: Quotes

Q is for Quotes

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This post is just a collection of some of my favorite quotes. Some are spiritual, some are inspirational, and others are just nice literary pieces. Enjoy!

“When you say ‘That’s impossible,’ you’re confused with ‘I don’t know how to do it.'” -Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, A Prediction for the Future of Iran, TED Talk

“I will never apologize for something written in the Qur’an.” -Nouman Ali Khan

“Time made me an adult. But I don’t think it made me strong.” -NELL, Green Nocturne

“Beliefs must be judged by whether they describe the world in which we actually live, not the world in which we would like to live” -Frieden et al., World Politics

“To yell ‘black-on-black crime’ is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

“Things like this have happened to people better than us, people more worthy of God’s protection. They were tested and so will we be” -Ubaydullah Evans on the Chapel Hill Shooting

“Niel noticed that in describing the charms of other women Mrs. Forrester always made fun of them a little.” –Willa Cather, A Lost Lady

“Be careful of the life you lead. You may be the only book that someone reads” -Usama Canon

“The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is – a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass” –Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

“We live in a culture where wanting to spend time alone is regarded as a weird thing. Well if that’s weird, stamp a ‘weirdo’ sign on me and send me to the movie theater by myself.” -Amenakin

“Instead of asking if ISIS is Islamic, we should be asking if Guantanimo is American” -Yasir Qadhi

“How can I be thankful for the countless blessings You bestowed upon me when my ability to thank you is a blessing in and of itself?” -Prophet Isa (Jesus)

“That Sunday, with that host, on that news show, I tried to explain this as best I could within the time allotted. But at the end of the segment, the host flashed a widely shared picture of an eleven-year-old black boy tearfully hugging a white police officer. Then she asked me about ‘hope.’ And I knew then that I had failed.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Life… is happiness.  Happiness… is the fact that I can do something right now. –Lee Donghae

“Are we really a community or are we just a bunch of bodies gathered in a room?” -Usama Canon

“I disliked him so much by this time that I didn’t find it necessary to tell him he was wrong.” –The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The key to reforming someone is inspiring them – not beating them over the head” –Sherman Jackson

“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

“Remember one thing about sins: If your sins are no big deal to you, then they are a big deal to Allah. And when your sins are a big deal to you, then they are a small problem for Allah. Allah will forgive them easily if you care a lot about your mistakes. If you don’t care about your mistakes, it could be a small mistake but it will be very big on judgment day. Because you didn’t care.” – Nouman Ali Khan

“At our first meetings, we asked people to give up going to the cinema and smoking cigarettes until there was not a foreigner left on our soil. They didn’t agree. Then we asked if they would give up their lives. Everyone shouted yes.” – Gita Mehta, Snakes and Ladders (on trying to get people to attend religious gatherings)

“The place had an overpowering presence of literature and you couldn’t help but lose your passion for dumbness.” –Bob Dylan, Chronicles

“You have to take care of your parents, but also your wife and your kids. Yes, it’s hard but guess what: That’s life! It’s called being a human being.” -Usama Canon

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, or unsatisfied at barely getting by. But that feeling is a lie and if you just hold on, just find the courage to face it all for another day, someone or something will find the way and make it all okay. Because we all need a little help sometimes, someone to help us hear the music in the world. To remind us that it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there, and that someone will find you. – Lucas Scott, One Tree Hill

#AtoZChallenge Day 16: Perfectionist Cooking

P is for Perfectionist Cooking

P

For most things in life, my motto is “Good enough.”

Parallel parking: Eh, I’m not blocking anyone. Good enough.

Writing papers: I could get a “B” for this. Good enough.

Even some of my blog posts: I’m not saying anything offensive, right? Ok, it’s good enough.

(Don’t tell anyone about that last one. 😉 )

As long as I’m satisfied with the outcome, I’m pretty laid back about how things turn out.

Not the case when it comes to cooking. If it’s my job to make a dish, it has to be perfect.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love for cooking. When I was in elementary school, my mom bought me a Rachel Ray cookbook for kids, and I worked through a good number of those recipes and eventually graduated to one of her adult cookbooks. I took every cooking class that my middle school and high school offered, and I even joined a cooking competition during my junior year of high school. Cooking is something I take a lot of pride in.

However it always has to be perfect. If I end up adding too much salt or not enough seasonings or the chicken is too dry, I get so hard on myself. I see my cooking as meant to please others, so when I feel like it didn’t do that as well as it could have, I feel like I failed.

Usually, if I have a recipe to follow, the dish ends up turning out pretty good. However, that magic only worked with American cooking. When it comes to Indian and Arab food, which requires a keen eye and tongue over stable measurements, I fall apart. I have never been able to make an Indian dish taste the same way twice. I’ve dabbled a little bit into Chinese cooking as well, and the results are just as inconsistent and disappointing.

If I feel like the dish won’t turn out amazing, I have little to no motivation to make it at all. This is the fear I have about ever living on my own or needing to cook for a family. I can make really great dishes, alhamdulillah, but they require a lot of time and effort. The simpler, quick, “good enough” dishes aren’t actually good enough for me to try to make. So if I’m the one cooking, I’ll either spend hours making a meal fit for a king, or we’ll be eating ramen and leftovers.

I’m sure it will take time to loosen up as well as gain more skills in quickly throwing ingredients together, but right now I feel the things that I make are either 0 or 100.