Sometimes I doubted myself, leaving behind your pre-fabricated, corporate-sponsored temptations. But, ya know, it is what you make it.
Today is the final day to submit to NPR’s short story or three-minute fiction contest, which is a brilliant prompt and fun little challenge. This year’s contest is especially exciting with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie judging and ultimately reading the winning story. So I confidently began writing my piece keeping her sophisticated accent in mind. Because you know, I play to win. But then. I read the fine print and saw that none of my neighbors are eligible to enter the contest.
4. ELIGIBILITY. The Contest is open only to individual legal residents of the fifty United States who are age 18 and over.
That rather bummed me out. As some commenters on the NPR site bemoaned, it’s not cool that NPR is enjoyed all over the world, however, based solely on the intersection of latitude and longitude under which one’s mum was squatting (or hopefully not forced into a hospital bed) when one appeared on this planet determines whether one could or couldn’t enter the contest. Unfortunate to say the least. (I’m still writing for Adichie’s voice, you hear that right?) Adding insult to injury to my denied neighbors, as a US citizen who is privileged enough to have chosen to live abroad, I am still eligible for the contest even though I live here instead of there. Funny still, Adichie is an immigrant to the US, albeit a legal one. Decisions, decisions. The prompt was really irresistible for me, so I went forward with the writing but agitatedly blew off the other minor details knowing that I would not submit. Though I do adore neologisms. Le sigh. Here’s the text of my Three Minute Fiction and insha Allah I will make a podcast of it next week or so. I don’t sound anywhere near as great as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but might as well finish the project, eh.
During desperately stolen moments, at the end of her tether, Maryam weighed her options, considered her possibilities, hedged her losses and meticulously chose a road believing that she would be its sole traveler. Based on her amateur gauge, Maryam estimated that said path would surely facilitate an arrival at her manifest destiny. She dug out her relic of a basket, gathered her eggs, tied up her camel, cast her net, dotted her “I”s, crossed her “T”s, and then suddenly, but not surprisingly, her son or actually maybe it was her husband or her father or maybe even it was that treacherous woman at Stendahl’s, well, whoever it was, he said, in a long drawn-out whine, that really he was much too old to still be using, he cried “Nooooooo! I want a popsicle.” Or maybe it was a pony or a Porsche that he wanted. Either way, under the grievous weight of the voracious decibels, without any reluctance, she spontaneously buckled, martyring herself by omitting a sheepish, barely audible, “Okay.” And without further hesitation, she threw all her carefully calculated caution into the waste bin.
Solutions, solutions, solutions. Mine is to be a good sister. As in, good to my sisters and brothers. To say “yes” when I rather say “no.” To speak up when it would be much, much easier to be quiet. And to know when to shut up and stand by.
It sounds easy enough, but obviously is not being fully implemented. “Want for your sister what you want for yourself.”
Go do that, like with your hands.
“There can be and usually is, some degree of pain involved in giving up old ways of thinking and knowing and learning new approaches.” ~bell hooks, Teaching to Transgess
I am working with an old essay (circa 2/2008) and am MORTIFIED by some of my thinking in here:
“WAHMs have been around since the dawn of woman. The indigenous woman who traded her goods and wares or the farmer’s wife who traded her homemade foods certainly didn’t think of themselves as industrious WAHMs, but they were. Modern WAHMs have a much wider range of possible work to choose from and a matched range of successes.”
I can count at least three things that are very, very wrong here. If you don’t see anything wrong with it, let’s talk more later, k?
I wish I could tell you about the beauty. I wish I could tell you that I took shahadah after being fascinated with Islam and seeing the goodness of Muslims. I wish I could tell you how I found a family, a community and a new place to exist. I really wish I could. And I wish that because I am quite aware of the fact that Muslims don’t want to hear my kind of story. It’s too painful and too much truth for one person to digest. The reality is my convert experience has been a rocky one. It has been, at times, fraught with doubt and confusion as to why I chose to be a part of this community and around these particular people. Once the initial convert zeal wore off, I found myself in a miserable circumstance.
From the back cover:
She was always a little different. “Touched” is how her auntie described her. They all hoped that someday she would calm down and fit in. What they never anticipated was that she would settle down–with one of them –a Muslim man! Now they all know the truth–she really is crazy!
Cover, title and hook, the hard work is done–now who’s gonna write it? Autobiographies will be considered, of course.
By the way, this is my submission to the Blog Carnival: Convert Truths in Shades of Grey.
Early last year a small family fish store opened a block away from my house. Most businesses in Morocco are still family owned and run. It was a cute little place with new glass-covered display fridges and a fisherman motif, you know, plastic seaweed and fishing nets artfully hung from the ceiling. When the BP spilled their oil, I thought about my fish mongers. I didn’t pass by for a week or so and when I finally did it seemed the lights were on but no one was home, literally. Just a few fish sat in the lit cases, the doors were closed.
Around that same time, a neighbor friend commented that there hasn’t been any fish in the souk. It had been a couple of weeks since the spill. I remembered that she is illiterate and unlike most of our neighbors, she doesn’t have a satellite dish. Perhaps her own children had failed to share with her their findings in Le Mondial. In my broken Derijench—(Derija and French)—I pathetically tried to explain it to her, “Oil in the ocean. A lot of oil in the ocean. Boat broken.”
The gates of the shop were always drawn soon after that. We didn’t have a weekend fish-fry for months until we happened past some men at the beach with coolers strapped to their bicycles. My husband bought a few kilos of fat iridescent delicacies from a man who smiled and said that he would have eaten them if we didn’t buy them. He was happy either way.
Yesterday the kids pulled me into a candy store to get 10 cents worth of sunflower seeds. The store is sparkly new and fastidiously organized, unlike the chaotic and dim old dinosaur of a hanoot next door. Brightly colored cellophane packages are stacked behind the counter a little higher than my head. The one large display case, which stands between the buyers and the dealers, tempts with artificial colored, chemical-laden and salted indulgences for as little as a penny each.
The kids are only allowed to buy “salty-snacks” and I suggest they try pumpkin seeds. They get 10 cents worth of those too and I buy myself two rolls of sugar-crusted gumdrops. Clearly a case of “do as I say.”
I wish this all were a metaphor.
God, Please help us all, ameen.
Or stressed out, or angry, or whatever else that isn’t so pretty and shiny. Life has taken on a more-than-usual hectic pace for me this month. There are a few projects I need to do with friends right now and, you know, as well as being a culinary maverick, international rollerblader, and so on and so on, I’m just too busy to write everything I want to–so let me briefly say something that is really important–Homeschoolers get depressed and stuff, but they don’t talk about it and they don’t do photo blogs about it and they suffer miserably and long and lonely. You know how sometimes we read/hear a message but we aren’t ready for it and then later the piece fits? I have surrounded myself with homschooling philosophies, dreams and homeschooling folks since I was a kid and first heard about this wonderful possibility. I have seen documentaries, talk shows, video blogs, have read books and articles and blogs and websites, have joined yahoo groups and international groups and attended conferences and so on and so on…and once, ONE TIME, in a completely off topic remark ONE MOM said that it took her five years to realize that she couldn’t homeschool the way she wanted to because she was depressed for that long.
Now, I don’t remember if she went on drugs or started running (runners are drug addicts too, ya know *Cheshire cat smile*) or got a dog or a divorce or what she did–but she said it! She admitted that she was depressed. And I don’t remember if that was before or after the final semester of a couple of pregnancies ago in which I spent my entire days laying on the couch–because I was DEPRESSED–but it was only just recently that I FINALLY HEARD THAT MESSAGE and realized that I couldn’t do it how I wanted to and the wall was too high to get over and the lake was too wide to get around and the jungle was too thick to cut through. I was DEPRESSED. They make great drugs for that and we’ll talk more about that later, insha Allah. And of course I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because a non-homeschooler would be too-quick to tell me to “just put the kids in school” and the Fatima Light and Bright* Muslimahs would swallow hard on their own denial and…
…And anyone who considers commenting that they don’t need “Self-help literature, therapy, counseling, drugs, etc” because you “have God, The Sunnah, The Quran, patience, etc,” —Come here so I can punch you in the lip and see how patient you are–what tools you’ve got to deal with life’s smacks. 😀
*Coined by Aaminah, I think.