I think I’m an adult now. Or, at least, I’m supposed to be.
I know it’s been forever since I’ve put up a blog post. Forever is quite the understatement. I promised more updates and lots more about my adventures in Palestine last fall, but time has literally escaped from my hands. I haven’t touched my travel pictures and journals since last September. It felt like I was trapped in one crazy long weekday (probably a Wednesday with a few Fridays and Sundays sprinkled in). It looks like this post is going to be more introspective than I wanted it to be. Everything feels like a blur. I’m sitting here in Ramadan trying to collect my thoughts on the last few months that have passed.
That’s a wonderful place to begin. Welcome back, Ramadan! I’ve had a rough beginning to this year. I’ve always believed in expecting the unexpected, and yet certain events and experiences this year still knocked my balance off completely. I have only just begun regaining my footing. The excitement of Ramadan brought energy back to my soul. I LOVE Ramadan! My favorite part of the year. I know that there are aspects of Ramadan that I’m excited for that confuses a lot of my non-Muslim friends.
"Fasting is not merely physical, but is rather the total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast."
If you’d like some quick info on Ramadan, you can jump over to my post on Food from last year: http://writerintuition.blogspot.com/2012/07/food.html Or check out http://islam.about.com/od/ramadan/f/ramadanintro.htm or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan
I'm always excited when this article comes out every Ramadan and Eid. SubhanAllah, these are beautiful pictures of Muslims observing Ramadan around the world.
Aside from the beauty of Ramadan, some quick updates among the flash of lightening. This is for friends and family who believed I dropped off the face of the earth when I began my MFA program. (Not that they were wrong.)
- Completed my final manuscript/ master’s thesis [236 pages of hard work, sweat, tears, and my sanity]… Now I need to get to get this novel published! InshaAllah!
- Read an excerpt from my young adult novel at my Graduate Student Reading. Probably one of the most nervous moments in my life was to have this story finally shared with family and friends.
Watch at your own risk. ;) Enjoy!
- Held my Graduate Student Presentation on the topic, “Stereotyping the ‘Other’”. Great discussion and feedback received… Definitely not going to be a teacher or professor or anything. I still can’t get myself to watch the recording of it either!
- Spent 11 days with incredibly talented writers and supportive friends at my last residency.
- Walked across a stage to signify my graduation in receiving a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Writing for Young People. (I was actually the first person at my university to ever graduate with this specific genre/emphasis.)
- Was surrounded by my beautifully supportive family.
- Last but certainly not least, I completed my first novel… I now have to decide which one of my other two half written novels I want to delve back into next.
Yes, all this happened in the month of June. What about the rest of the beginning of 2013 and the last months of 2012? Like I wrote earlier, all a blur. Not much I actually want to remember, aside from the craziness of completing my novel in record time (at least that’s how I feel).
Now, I sit here nervous and excited for the future that looms ahead of me. During my long days of studying, I kept promising myself that when I finally emerged from that long tunnel, I would find a way to rest and just simply breathe. I had a long list of plans and activities I have put off for all these years. The last time I had an open summer was the summer between my high school commencement and the beginning of my education at UCSD. On June 23rd, when I thought I had found that light at the end of the tunnel, I realized it was just a matter of a book light allowing me to flip the page to the next chapter of my life. As empty as my summer looks to others, it’s packed with every move that will decide the outcome of my future.
I realize that I don’t know how to be anything other than a student. I plan on continuing to gain education, about essentially every subject that I can. Twenty-one years of my life was spent in continuous education and that honesty feels like nothing. I know I should be calling myself an “adult” now, but I’ve only just begun my journey of learning and exploring. It is a big world out there, and I plan on seeing all of it.
Even as I sit out here at my favorite place in all of San Diego (Coronado Island), in this perfectly hidden spot, mesmerized by the waves, my brain feels wired with all these colliding thoughts.
Get my novel published.
Find a stable and fulfilling job.
Give back to my family.
Make my parents proud.
Break through the chains of Islamophobia in providing to the world stories normalizing Muslims and Middle Eastern culture in young adult novels.
Travel. Discover the beauty that lies in our small world.
Find time to be alone.
That’s all I can seem to think about. Finding time for myself to rest, read for pleasure, or even just work on my photography again makes me feel guilty. With Ramadan, my priorities and time have shifted to increasing my level of remembrance of Allah through prayer and supplication. It’s a time to recharge my battery of Iman (faith) for the rest of the year. I keep telling myself the time to rest will come soon enough, after I have tackled everything on my never-ending plate of challenges.
Despite all of this, I do enjoy that I now have time to just be… alone. My favorite part of Ramadan is Taraweeh (extra, long nightly prayers) when it’s just me and my Lord. That pure, direct connection with my creator.
As I work on connecting my thoughts for my next novel, I do have the intention to blog more just to keep the flow of writing going. We’ll see how that goes now that I’m finished with school. I need those little breaks between query letters for agents and cover letters for work. I’m also trying to refine my short story writing. I found that I’m not good at short stories, but it’s a good way to get my writing out there… This is all just a work in progress. InshaAllah Kheir!
Speaking of my goal to achieve amazing work, my friend Saif is currently in Cambodia working on a Cambodia Cham Documentary. Check out the project at his blog: http://blogcambodia.chamdiaspora.com He has some great posts up and beautiful photography!
To my Muslim brothers and sisters, Ramadan Mubarak! Kul 3am wantum bi 5eir! May Allah swt purify our hearts, forgive our sins, and accept all of our worship and dua' in this blessed month. Please forgive me if I have wronged you in any way. It was never my intention to do so.
May Allah swt bring justice and ease the hardships upon all of our oppressed brothers and sisters all over the world! Let us always keep them in our dua'!
To all my wonderful friends, I invite you to visit a masjid during this time and truly understand your Muslim brothers and sisters and Islam. I have had many friends try a day of fasting during Ramadan with me. It’s a very fulfilling thing and not as difficult as you may assume it to be. Of course, I always welcome any questions you may have about Islam in general.
I’ll leave you all with this memory today… I’m not a fan of cake, but cake is exciting for a one-year-old.