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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Love is in the Air!

Look at the date… yep, that’s right, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! and you better believe that the reminder to be in love is everywhere! It’s on the radio, in the grocery store, on magazine covers, and pretty much where ever you look! Well, I happen to like Valentine’s Day. I think my husband sold me on it eight years ago, when he bought me a great movie (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), a bouquet or red and pink roses, and of course, chocolate! I was impressed! He even took the initiative to buy all of those things himself and surprise me with them.

So even though it wasn’t an expensive dinner or jewelry, that Valentine’s Day has stayed in my mind throughout our relationship. Needless to say, I have harrassed him every year since when the holiday approaches to let him know what I might like… if say, he was in the mood to surprise me. 😉 So, as the romantic holiday approaches, I thought I would write about how I fell in love with my husband, who brought me into the world of all things Moroccan.

Dressed in a leather mini-skirt and a black halter top, I was dancing at a hot club in H-Town in the summer of 2002. I had been forced to change my plans of staying in Baton Rouge, LA (where I went to school at LSU) and had moved in with my parents for the summer. Nothing could keep me in the house for very long and I was highly unwilling to give up my partying or my freedom during the summer. So, there I was looking good and feeling sexy while dancing with my high school friends when I met eyes with a man across the room who was coming towards me on the dance floor. Now I may have looked the part, but sadly I was nothing like the woman that I was portraying. In truth, that scantily dressed 18 year old was a virginal prude who had learned all there was to know about men and how to interact with them by means of alcohol induced flirting throughout my first year of college.

This man coming towards me didn’t know that, and after realizing that he was coming to dance with me, I immediately turned around and gave him my back. In reality I was trying to save myself from the confusing possibilty that a man might me really be interested in me; an idea that my low level of self-esteem wouldn’t allow my brain to process. Ironically, rather than sending the signal I intended, my actions had the opposite effect and lured in my potential admirer who thought that I was playing hard to get. Needless to say this man continued on his journey toward me until he encircled me so that I would have no other choice but to dance with him. So, I gave in and did my best to come off as confident and attractive. We danced, we talked, I learned that he spoke French (huge turn-on for a French major), and ultimately I gave him my cell phone number – not a big shocker since I was giving it away to anyone who asked for it. Of course I never expected a phone call since no one before him had every called before. But around noon the next day an unknown number popped up on my caller id. Ignoring it the first time, I finally picked up on the second phone call (made within 10 minutes of the first). Side note: yeah, these men really dont play the games that American men play.

I think the conversation probably went something like this: Me: “Hello?” Him: “Hi! How are you today?” Me: “Huh, who is this?” Him: “It’s Sebastien, from the Spy Club.” Me: “Who?” Him: “Sebastien. We met last night at the club. Don’t you remember me!” Me: “Uh, who?” Him: “Sebastien! You gave me your number last night.” Me: Oh, ok. Why are you calling me?” Him: (finally) “I want to see you today”. Me: “what?!” Him: “Come over to my apartment.” Me: “Are you serious?” Him: “Yes, come on a date with me.” Me: “Uh, I am not coming over to your house. I don’t even know you. How do I know you aren’t like a serial killer?” Him: “You can trust me. Just bring a friend with you.” Me: um…. I’ll think about it. Call me back in a little while. Bye.”

Real smooth right? Like I said, I was Ms. Confident. Anyway, I ended up going to meet him with my best friend. I wanted a reality check. I wanted to see if this guy was really into me. Plus, my best friend was a really beautiful brunette: slender and chic and always the center of attention. If I was going to enter the dating world with this man he had better pass the “he doesn’t prefer my friends over me” test. So, we go meet him and his friend at Starbucks. This time I was sober and in a well lit cafe… and he was skinny! and tall (yay!) and had the most gorgeous plump lips I had EVER seen! Wowza! My friend immediately asked who was for who and was ever so slightly disappointed (and probably shocked) to see that he was for me. This realization was probably too much for me at the time. Not only was a man attracted to me, but he was also attractive, and he was NOT into my much more attractive friend. I probably would have agreed to have his children right then and there!  🙂

We immediately started a whirlwind romance, in which I fell head over heels in love with him. Within 2 months, I had practically moved in with him. I met his family who were on vacation from Morocco and I was smitten with them as well. I know now that I was soo emotionally involved that I couldn’t see straight. I was awed by his charisma, by his “bad boy-ness”. I was attracted to the idea of him. He fit my plans – French speaking boy to be passionate about and with, to enthrall me, to take me away on adventures, to BE my adventure. I know that he was not expecting me. He thought that he was getting a silly girl who just wanted fun and didn’t expect the innocent and naive child who was really there.

The summer flew by. There were night time escapades (too daring to talk about here – no NOT just that kind!), and days filled with waiting tables. Before I knew it, I had to move back to Louisiana and start school again. So, we had one last romantic night together. Then I left and we promised to try out our long distance relationship. He visited me in Baton Rouge. I came back to Houston. We spent two months apart and working new jobs and living separate lives. But I couldn’t concentrate. This boy had stolen my heart. He had encased me in his essence and I couldn’t be or breathe without him. I cried watching Alladin for crying out loud! Ridiculous, but true. 🙂 and by this time I had learned that my “Sebastien” was to be traded in for a much more Arab name that was actually his.

So, what did I do? Well first I dropped out of that semester at LSU. I moved in with him in Houston and we got married a little under six months after we first met that night in late May of 2002. We did not have a wedding. I did not tell my parents for almost a year (in my defense my mom almost died at the news that I had dropped out for a boyfriend). We survived the next couple of crazy months. Then in January of 2003 we moved to Louisiana. I went back to school and got a new job. We learned a lot more about each other and in the next two and a half years we fought and I cried and we laughed and loved and we made it work. When I graduated, got a job and six months later got pregnant, we made it work again. Before having my first daughter, I took my first trip to Morocco. My mother came along as well – I’m pretty sure she was afraid I might never come back otherwise. I loved it! I was fat and pregnant and miserable but we went all over the country. The beauty was astounding! The purity was … purifying! I loved not only the country but my husband more for seeing it and understanding it and him in it.

I have been back 3 more times since that first trip to Morocco. My husband and I have made it to almost 10 years together and 2 children later. There have been bumps in the road – BIG ones most recently – and we’re still here. Through it all, I have always felt that God had a plan for us when we met so long ago. Sometimes I am grateful for that and sometimes I am resentful. But, that’s life. There’s happiness and bitterness and all the emotions in between.

 

My love story is one in which I have come to accept that Valentine’s Day will not always be as happy as it was once or twice in my life. It is a love story that has taught me that it is ok to say to my spouse not only do I love you but I hate you. It has made me into an adult and into a person who sees a little clearer and without glasses that are so darkly shaded  pink. I can understand now and try to reconcile myself with phrases like “The opposite of love is not hate but apathy” and “never lose sight of who YOU are”. For all those reasons I can say “alhumdulillah” (thank God)! and be amused by the approaching holiday and the love in the air.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Eid al Mawlid an Nabi…

Living in America, you can bet that this holiday does NOT make the nightly news. Well, most Muslim holidays dont…  But, even though Muslims all over the world are celebrating this holiday, the Muslims where I live are not. Some may fast on Monday as a remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday and others may have small family get togethers marking the holiday that they grew up celebrating in their own countries, but the mosques are not having a large congregational prayer, the Islamic schools are not organizing celebrations, and facebook is not filled with Eid greetings. So why not here? Are we not also Muslim? We have plenty of Muslims who take part in Christmas celebrations because they appreciate the idea of recognizing the birth of one of the Prophets of Islam. However, we are in a way, forbidden from celebrating the birthday of the Prophet who brought us Islam.

Why forbidden? Well, to understand this you need to understand the theology of the movers and shakers of my community. Sure it changes from region to region, so I’ll try not to overgeneralize. In Houston (where I live and was born and raised), the actively practicing Muslims are pretty conservative. For example, if you celebrate your children’s birthday you are doing something “haram”. If you do not wear hijab you might as well be a “kafir”. These words are filled with negative connotations and they are thrown around like salt and pepper in a red-neck kitchen. (hehe!) The reason behind this is largely cultural however, it effects large numbers of people – young and old. More importantly, the conservatism of the people in power forces the majority to outwardly practice only what the minority want.

Sadly, because of this reality, we are missing out on some very rich Islamic practices. Ones that are allowed by some major theologians around the world – all because a very few people in our community subscribe to a very strict interpretation of Islam and implement it in the mosques and schools. We are not allowed to bring up Sufism or any form of spiritual mysticism and possibly grow in our own understanding of God. We are not supposed to celebrate any holiday except the two major Eids. There are so many restrictions that it would be hard to list them all here. Suffice it to say that most Muslims just withdraw and dont participate at all. Moroccans especially – which makes sense since the culture is so infused with spirituality and somewhat with mysticim.

Following this strict interpretation of Islam is supposed to bring us closer to our Creator and farther away from the tempations of Satan, but in my experience, it only ever made me feel really withdrawn from my family (both American and Moroccan), and very very very judgemental of others. Something that led me down the path that eventually hit a bump in the road… (see previous post – a reality check). So, thankfully, I feel that I am DONE with conservative Islam. I have seen more love, and understanding, and a closer relationship with God from many many more people who do not stick to this hard line. I have seen and been a victim of so much evil behavior and nastiness in people’s hearts, that I am never going back to that place again. I will try more to embody the women of Morocco who are truly spiritual: who pray, all the time, on time and with love and eagerness, not just obligation. I will remember that a piece of cloth does not mean a better Muslim. I will remember that we all fall down, we all sin, we all can become slaves to our own desires, but to remember that we must let those things go and ask for forgiveness is what is wanted of us by our Creator. Recently I posted this on facebook: ‎”If you don’t have the ability to compete with the pious in righteous deeds, compete with sinners in seeking Allaah’s forgiveness”-Ibn Rajab. Insh’Allah!

So, I’ll leave you with a beautiful nasheed posted by a relative in Morocco as a remembrance of our Prophet on this occasion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDvMbKq9op8&feature=share

and a biography of a beloved Prophet… http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/396226/Muhammad

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Un poeme – comment trouver “la joie de vivre”

Marche doucement sur la terre

chaque vie a son rhythme fragile

le savoir, c’est comprendre

l’ignorer, c’est s’abandonner a la tristesse

c’est chercher en vain l’integrite

atteinte seulement avec l’abandon du present

 

Marche doucement sur la terre

trop de serieux obscurcit la beaute

l’intensite aveugle et fausse notre but

une ambition excessive detruit la vraie perception

ce n’est ni le travail, ni la souffrance que debilite

mais ne pas se connaitre

 

marche doucement sur la terre

la colere voile la vision, la rage abrege la vie

le rire est le plus beau cadeau de l’esprit libre

rire de bon coeur et souvent, c’est comprendre

rire de soi, rire de la vie

et ainsi voir clairement

 

marche doucement sur la terre

l’amour attend de se reveler en son temps

et ne peut etre cree malgre la meilleure intention

l’amour c’est se decouvrir dans un autre etre

et n’importe quel autre amour en depit du temps

sera fatal et douloureux

surtout, surtout, marche doucement sur la terre!

 

 

C’est un poeme que j’ai fait apprendre a mes eleves… je l’aime bien et j’espere que vous le trouvez beau aussi.

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

C’mon, everybody is doing it!

So I mentioned before that I am dieting… and I mentioned how much I hate dieting. Well, what really got me off my lazy bum this time, is that it really is no fun being the only one left out of your group: not participating in the activities that all others are busy talking about and working on. Yes, I’m a follower… but that’s ok, so are most of us. 😉

Anyway, all of my friends started on this diet kick several months ago. Well, I was kind of in the middle of a breakdown so I couldn’t jump on the bandwagon when they did. But, when things finally started coming together, I up and joined a website for calorie counting, bought some new gym clothes, and went straight back into a 3 times a week workout schedule. I stopped buying coca-cola and sweets, and I started buying those stupid 100 calorie packs of everything. Well, then I heard of the movie, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, and I read the blog of another American married to Moroccan who was jumping in (head first) into a juice fast. Read her blog here: http://collardgreenmuslim.com/.

Well, a week or two of calorie counting and 100 calorie snacking, I decided to watch the documentary mentioned above. Let’s just say, I get it. I’ll drink the Koolaid, or in this circumstance, the JUICE and try my hand at this. The whole micro -nutrient vs. macro-nutrient explanation really just made sense. We need to stop fattening ourselves up, when there is no immediate starvation in our future! Anyway, I’m not a head first kind of girl – I’m more like a dip your toe in and try the water and then shwiya be shwiya (little by little) get deeper and deeper and start swimming in the water. (Did you like my Moroccanism inserted there?)

I have also been trying to get my girls to eat vegetables that I pack for them in their lunches. They’re not biting – if you get my drift – and have decided to just stay hungry or wait for me to cave and give them some carbohydrates. We moms have to be sneaky and these children are not going to come off of years of poor eating in just a day or two. So, after watching the movie, and with no luck of my children eating veggies, I decided to make a kale/fruit blend smoothie for us. I wanted to see how much energy it would give us and sneak in a couple of servings of veggies. Everyone liked it and we started the first 2 days of our week with a kale smoothie. Sadly, today I am in a sinus induced fog so we havent had our daily helping.

I am now determined that we will stop eating (so much) processed food. That I can get them to eat WAY MORE veggies than they ever did and that everyone will benefit from this lifestyle change. As a side note, can I just say that I am astounded that it really is in MY CONTROL as the mother to be the only one to change our way of life. I mean, I didn’t even realize how much power I had!

First step of the process is complete, in that I tried out how I am going to get us to eat more veggies. Second step of the process is complete – I bought a ton of fruits and veggies to make juice (and even salads) with. Third step is next – I need a juicer ASAP!  Wish me luck as I try to become truly healthier, physically and spirtitually, and facilitate my family’s health and development.

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Uncategorized