Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why do people have to leave each other?

I've read this article numerous times now.  There's a lecture version which I play on my iphone and fall asleep to.  The very first time I discovered this lecture was when one of my facebook friends posted it.  I was fasting at the time and it was close to iftar so I was stripped down to my basic human need of starvation and thirst.  

Within the first ten minutes I was bawling crying.  I couldn't believe that someone knows exactly my struggle and was able to very eloquently put it into words and communicate it.  It was such a relief to know I wasn't the only one.  Like Yasmin I'm also one of those that gets very attached to people.  I always had to have a best friend.  My free days always had to involve hanging out with people.  I always had a boy in mind whether it was an actual relationship or just a fantasy in my head.  I was always so dependent on my relationships with people.  When anything of significance happened to me I needed to talk to someone about it.  I get attached easily and I get hurt easily. I was very dependent on my friendships.

Yasmin relates her emotional vulnerability to that of a vase that keeps falling and breaking.

But the problem wasn’t with the vase. Or even that the vases kept breaking. The problem was that I kept putting them on the edge of tables.

 Listening to this lecture forced me to confront this and the first time it was overwhelming.  I cried for a long time.   The point of the article is the powerful message that she reiterates.

There is only one place where we can lay our dependencies. There is only one relationship that should define our self-worth and only one source from which to seek our ultimate happiness, fulfillment, and security. That place is God.

This might be the most important piece of wisdom I was given.  I listen to this lecture when I need the reminder.  This week I listened to it about 5 times.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Last Goodbye

The last time I had to said goodbye to Juice I actually had no clue of the storm that was looming upon us and the pending demise of our relationship.  I still felt like this green eyed prince's princess

He was leaving to go back to school and I met up with him that morning.  We were at a cafe by the airport and he bought me orange juice and nothing for himself.  It was his last year of dental school and I gave him my words of encouragement telling him to realize how far he made it and letting him know how proud of him I am.  I assured him that I was in this 100% and in turn he told me that he pretty much knew I was the girl he was going to marry from the first time he saw me.  In my head I questioned how valuable his judgement was considering he was previously engaged and that failed...but that thought lasted only 5 seconds.

It was a bittersweet meeting.  I was sad to say goodbye without being sure of the next time I would see him. Even more though I was happy at the possibilities the future held for us which I was very optimistic about.  Last year was a bad year, and this year was going to make up for it I was sure.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My response to "The problem with marrying the first person you meet"

In a recent post post blogger Naddoush contrasts attitudes to relationships in the Middle Eastern culture with that of Denmark's (and the rest of Europe). She referenced a previous post of mine to use as an example of the problem of the way the eastern culture approaches relationships.  First of all Nadoush, I'm a fan of your blog so I appreciate the shoutout.  Second of all,  I disagree with the implied overall conclusion that the West's way is more superior.

My blog talks about my own personal experiences- making conclusions about the norms of cultures and societies was something I intended to stay away from doing, but since we're on the subject....

I'm a practicing Muslim and I'm American.  I have many non-Muslim American friends who approach relationships differently, as well as Muslim friends that choose to live a lifestyle similar to mine.  Between all of them I have witnessed a wide range of relationship trials and tribulations.  With that said, I don't think my parents approach when it comes to teaching (or lack of) their daughter about men and relationships was the best way to go about it (although I have to give my mother credit for coming a long way since the first time I told her about a boy); however, I definitely don't think the Western culture's approach is in the interest of women.

I have girlfriends that have relationships with men that are detrimental to their own interests and mental well-being.  Being "Western" I've seen girls be in a relationship for too long-and yes there is such thing.  They're meeting all the man's needs without him ever giving her what she really wants-a REAL commitment.  Why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?  Sometimes it works out in the end, but many times it doesn't....and what do you think that does to a girl's self-esteem, confidence, and level of standards? This doesn't make her wiser and smarter, this results in heavy-ass baggage that she's going to carry on in the next relationship.  I've seen it!

How about the belief that just because you're a single girl it's ok to open yourself up to all forms of male attention because you're just "having fun".  This homegirl doesn't help you understand, become wiser, or grow as a person.  This is DANGEROUS!

Most detrimental of all is when girls date guys that they don't believe they would ever marry or know would never marry them.  Sounds crazy right? but girls do it all the time!!!!!  Girlfriend have some respect for yourself and save it for someone who deserves it.

I also must add that me being single isn't because of the way my "middle eastern culture" approaches relationships.  There's nothing wrong with having standards and expectations for yourself that don't result from having had 20 boyfriends and played house with 5 of them-but rather stem from your faith, beliefs, and culture that you were brought up in.  A couple of my friends married the first and only guy they were ever serious about and they're in the most googoo gaga awww-inducing relationships I've ever witnessed.  It's better to be single and have some self-respect than to be dating because you give your digits out to every guy whose "good enough."

In conclusion, having had previous relationships is not essential to a loving, healthy marriage.  Sometimes it could even result in qualities that could be harmful to a relationship such as lower self-esteem, being paranoid, mistrustful, and just plain confused.  Just watch Sex and the City!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our Last Date

The day before he had to go back to school Juice planned for us have dinner on a sunset cruise.  It was something I really wanted to do and he took care of the details-or else he intended to.  Only when we got to our destination Juice realized he completely got the dates and times mixed up and he actually made reservations for a completely different day.  So no dinner cruise for us.

I was disappointed and sat down on a nearby park bench sulking while he got on the phone to speak to someone about about getting a refund.  "I'm sooooo sorry" was all he kept repeating to me and I just said "it's ok don't worry".  We were both all dressed up with nowhere to go.  So we decided to just get in the car and drive around for ideas.  "Maybe we can just go see a movie" he said, "ummmm nooooo I kind of wanted to do something nice".  Call me vain, but I wasn't interested in doing something that I could do with my girlfriends any time.

Went drove through a suburb on the other side of town and I remembered that we were close to this reservation-only upscale restaurant that both of us have heard about and neither of us have been to.  I called them up and lucky for us they had reservations available within the hour.  My mood flipped and I became really excited.  For a moment I remember feeling guilty thinking that this was going to be a pretty expensive meal for a spontaneous plan.  Spontaneous idea usually involve burgers or ice cream, not five-star restaurants.  What if it was beyond his means?  Of course he would never say anything about price or accept any financial contribution from me.  I told myself I'll just make sure to look at the lower priced entrees even if it just vegetarian, and I wouldn't think about getting a starter.  I looked up the menu on my phone and of course there were no listed prices!

"Hey I've never been here and I heard that it's really expensive.  We don't have to go here we can look for another place...." although the reality is I wanted to go there more than any other place.  "Don't worry about it habibti".  Of course he was going to say that.

It was definitely the fanciest place I'd ever been to.  We were dressed up, but not as dressed up as the rest of the patrons who wore suits and dresses.  The uniformed waiters pulled out your chairs, strategically placed the napkins in your lap, and walked the ladies to and back from the restroom.  We would say things in Arabic to each other so that no one else could understand. "I feel like I should have taken an etiquette class to eat here.  What's the difference between the 3-prong fork and the 4-prong fork?" He insisted we go all out and while we're here try appetizers and deserts too.  We held hands across the table and I was all smiles.  I must have said "thank you for taking me here" about 5 times to him and each time he just smiled back and squeezed my hand.  He kissed the palm of my hand a couple times during dinner and commented on how soft they were.

For me that evening was one of the highlights of the year.  I was really happy and felt like the luckiest girl.  Unlike him I had no previous relationship experience, he was the first guy I seriously thought of as my future husband and to me his visit couldn't have gone better.  He made me feel protected and beautiful.

Little did I know that was the last time I would go out to dinner with Juice.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Title!

I changed the title of my blog, and the URL respectively to something more representative of me. This is meant to be a blog recounting my relationship experiences and journey to "the one", but I don't feel like a "princess in waiting".  I'm the stereotypical over-scheduled, over-committed 20-something who always feels like I really need a foot massage..  The last thing I do is "wait".  I feel more like a pink sour grape.  What's a grape personality?  According to a random online personality quiz.

You are very reflective, sensitive, flexible, creative, and prefer to work in groups. you learn best when you can work and share with others, balance work with play, can communicate, and are noncompetitive. You tend to have trouble giving exact answers, focusing on one thing at a time, and organizing.  

The pink represents femininity, and the sour hints to the occasional touch of bitterness.  So here I am, pink sour grapes!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

So what's your number? (NOT a movie review)

This post is actually not meant to be a movie review, it's more of my opinion on Ally's relationship. So yesterday was girl's night out and as usual the majority wanted to see a chic-flick.  Believe it or not I'm pretty anti-chic-flick.  It's not that I'm anti chick-flick exactly, it's just that most of them happen to suck.

ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT.  However I wasn't completely disappointed by our pick: What's Your Number?  In this movie Ally's younger sister is getting married and this forces her to evaluate her own relationship status and whether or not she's headed to be a spinster.  Perhaps she's been too available to too many men and as a result might not ever get married.   As to not add to "the number", she digs up all her past boyfriends in an effort to see if one of them was meant to be "the one".

So during this time she enlists the help of Colin-her very sexy single next door neighbor.  Colin is immature, unstable, a broke struggling musician, and seems to have a of one-night-stands.  Needless to say, Colin is a fun guy but not exactly marriage potential and Ally is well aware of that. As predicted, Colin and Ally can't help but start falling for each other.  During the movie Ally actually successfully gets in touch with an ex from high school, Eddie, and they totally hit it off.  He's a successful world-traveling philanthropist and he takes Ally on expensive dates and treats her like a lady.  He's definitely marriage-minded and sees Ally as potential.  However something isn't quite right and that's Ally feels like she's not quite herself around him.  She acts a little more proper and like a lady and can't quite let loose and act crazy the same way she can when she's around Colin.

So how does the movie end? She decides to "follow her heart" and leaves Eddie for Collin, STUPID GIRL! I'm sure I was the only person in the theater who thought that.  She might be in love now, but what kind of life is she going to have with Colin?  He's still immature and broke.  Although the movie ended there, I'm pretty sure he's not going to be proposing to her anytime soon.  Eddie could take care of Ally in a way that Collin never could and Ally needed to use her brain a little more in order to see that.  I'm not saying girls should change themselves and who they are to be with guys like Eddie, but there is a middle ground here and Ally didn't give the relationship with Eddie a proper enough chance to see if that middle ground can be reached.  She felt a bit out of her comfort zone and just ran off.  I call that being a little stupid.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

stories to come

I decided to not blog during the holy month of Ramadan as to focus all my free mental and spiritual energy into gaining as much as I can.

But I have not abandoned this project, I'm back with my stories.  However I'm looking to change the title and the URL of the blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In case noone ever told you this before

Don't leave something good to see if you can find better because once you realize you had the best, the best found better

Friday, July 15, 2011

Breaking down the walls

At this point me and Juice had hung out casually a couple of times.  I was still battling the guilt of doing something wrong, but I was getting over it because I thought of him as my future fiance.  In fact, I was getting more and more comfortable and bold with him.

Shortly after our lunch together we met for breakfast at a charming French cafe and bakery.  He had never been there and I wanted him to try it; it was in the university area so we assumed it was "safe enough" (meaning less likely to bump into family friends).    These are the types of things I would imagine myself doing with a a guy while I was in my boy-crazy phase: dress up in light colors and high wedged sandals to go eat crepes and sip cappuccinos in cozy, hidden places.

While we were standing in line looking at menus I felt someone touch my arm and turned to find an old friend of a friend from college whose name I actually couldn't remember right away.  We embraced, said our hellos and asked how "so and so..." were doing.  Juice intentionally didn't look up and even conspicuously took a step away from me so that I didn't feel obligated to introduce him, but it was too late and obvious to her that we were together.  When she left I told him I'm not worried, she's not even Arab or Muslim anyway.  When I told my mom about my encounter she reprimanded me and told me I need to be more careful so that people we knew didn't get the wrong idea.

On a pleasantly gloomy afternoon we wanted to visit this downtown museum.  Actually it was something that I wanted to do, and he just kind of wanted to do whatever I wanted.  We had to walk a couple of blocks from where we parked and partly on an uphill slope so that I was holding on to his arm.  I spotted a Muslim, Arab-looking family walking opposite us-an elderly lady in hijab with an elderly man and a few younger children.  Juice had was very laid back (a little too laid back-but that's to come later) and his demeanor was unaffected, but I certainly tensed up for a moment.  I studied them from a distance and to my relief I was certain I didn't know who they were.  So as we passed each other by I confidently greeted them with "salaam alaikum" and a big smile while still holding tightly on to his arm.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

There's only 2 things guys want

The more guys I know the more I believe all the crap my brother tells me is so very true


My brother eloquently explained to me that there's only two things a guy wants from a girl:
2) genuine affection-like listening to him when he wants to vent, caring about his bad day, etc

No I'm pretty sure they also want hot cooked food and babies

Well hot cooked food goes under the affection category, and babies goes under sex.  Trust me it all comes down to sex and affection for guys.

Well then you'd think more of them would be serious about wanting to get married then

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The first time I went out with him

It was a rainy spring day the first time I went out with Juice.  I'm a hopeless romantic by nature and was slightly disappointed when I noticed he didn't have any flowers for me in his hand.  It was a lunch date and I chose the place- a downtown artsy sandwich shop that was popular amongst tourists.  It was early in our relationship and I figured I would least likely bump into anyone I knew there.  Neither of us had an umbrella so he pulled the car up in front of the restaurant and let me down then went to go park and walk on his own.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous,  I was very nervous but I tried so hard to act carefree and confident.  I asked questions in an attempt to lead conversation but I looked slightly down or slightly off to the side as I was talking.  It was very hard for me to look at him directly for more than a second without giving myself away.  His sparkly green eyes were intimidatingly beautiful and when I looked up at him he was always staring at me and smiling.  It didn't help that he smelled so good either.  I would blush and look down pretending like I was very interested in my sandwich.

He knew how nervous he made me.  He told me I looked beautiful although I was quite underdressed next to him.  I was wearing a shrug over a T-shirt and jeans.  He was wearing a crisp white shirt and gray dress pants.  I asked him if he liked the place I picked, and he answered that his sandwich was good but what's even better is the company he was sitting with.  Then he looked up and smiled at me and I got butterflies in my stomach.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The most wonderful experience life can give

Last week a colleague of mine came back from a weekend trip with the boyfriend with a new sparkling accessory on her ring finger.  She was beaming and I couldn't be happier for her

A colleague of mine surprised us all when he proposed to another colleague who is also his long-time girlfriend.  He had made this animated video of their story vague enough that we couldn't immediately tell what was going on but sweet enough to catch our undivided attention.  The video concluded with this message: 

Despite all the amazing experiences and world travels, it's just BEING with each other is the most wonderful experience life can give.  

That's when we realized what was going on.......and here I am crying again.  Soooo simple yet so heartfelt and touching.  Although I wanted it so bad at the time I've accepted that this isn't my story and won't be.  I can't say we met ten years ago in an elevator and became inseparable ever since.  I can't say that on my first birthday together he arranged for John Mayer to serenade me.  I can't say that we packed up and traveled the south continent the day after our graduation (also that wouldn't be halaal).

That's alright.  My story will still be special in its own way and today I'm happy.  I hope and I dream and I wish and that makes me happy.

The signs are everywhere.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Would you judge me if....

Would you judge me if I married a FOB? 

What??? of course not! 
Of course.  You're my best friend.
I will only judge your decision by the way your man treats you.
What if he said we had to have our wedding in the village his parents live in and then we're going to have ghetto pictures?
These things aren't that important.  What's important is that you have a happy marriage.  You totally have eldest daughter syndrome.  

Ummmm actually the wedding is important.
Anyway there's a difference between a REAL FOB and a FOB.  I know you wouldn't actually marry a REAL FOB.
What do you mean?
A REAL FOB is like when a girl goes back home and marries a guy that she bring here and he'll come and work for her dad or uncle.  That's very different than a guy that came to the US on his own and is already established.  You can totally marry one of those guys.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When I realized my parents weren't perfect

This is how things should be. This is how I'm supposed to feel. This is how a guy and a girl are supposed to be CONNECTING.

Juice came to right at a transitional pivotal moment in life and he was a very welcome distraction. As a result of my relationship with Juice I began to harbor anger inside of me towards my parents. The feeling may have always been there but I just didnt' know what it was or what my unsatisfaction was. I felt that up until this time my expectations for a significant other were naïve, ignorant, and just too low.

Why didn't they teach me? Why didn't they sit down and have open discussions with me about a subject that was way more important and life-impacting then whether I got a n A+ or an A in calculus AP or whether or not my shirt was loose enough as to not see the outline of my undergarments when I left the house.  I became angry.

My parents were supposed to be my role models. They were all-knowing and all-wise. Yet their relationship which I began scrutinizing in detail was nothing I wanted for myself. I obverved interactions that I had never paid attention to before. If they were a source of comfort for each other then I didn't see it. If they were a source of mercy for each other then I didn't see it. I was always daddy's girl and my brother was always momma's boy. We were spoiled.  They favored their children over each other in many aspects and for so long this special treatment I received blinded me from seeing the cracks-huge cracks.

Up until this time I thought mr.perfect was an engineer, doctor, or a very successful businessman. He prays 5 times a day and is conservative-meaning he doesn't sit with women at dinner parties. He has a good reputation which I think just means he has never gotten into trouble. His family were known as “good people” and I'm still trying to figure out what that means. He gets along with my parents and supports me in my eductional and career pursuits.

I had no ideals of what a nurturing and passionate relationship was and it took Juice for me to question how far less than perfect my family was.

Friday, June 17, 2011

We talked and talked and talked

Juice and I chatted online and I finally gave him my number after the third time he asked. Letting a boy I liked call me was a big step for me at that time. I knew this meant things would likely progress and I felt a little guilty. Guilt is a feeling I'm still battling to overcome and it largely stems from the community I was raised in and the way mom and dad (mainly dad) brought me up. Who knows though, this could just be my future husband-so then it would be ok!

At this time Juice attended school in a different state, and things did progress. We talked on the phone for hours a day-and I mean like 4,5,sometimes 6 hours a day. He called me every chance he could and I was usually staring at my phone screen waiting for the moment. There weren't any akward silences or boring babble, we always had something to talk about. He was very intellectual. He had a lot of opinions on politics, culture, religion and so did I. We sent each other youtube clips and links of interesting commentaries.

We talked about his past relationship which was a subject I was very curious about.  He fed into some of the fantasies that he knew every girl shares.  "So where is your dream honeymoon destination?"

He also read Qu'ran like a sheikh and would send me clips of his various recitations so that I could proudly upload them onto my ipod to have with me. That's my man!

At 24 It was the first time I remember having this type of attention from a guy. Not just any guy, but a pretty hot dentist...and it was exciting!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Good Muslim girls don't hold hands with boys"

Growing up in a conservative Middle Eastern household my father was very strict about casual relationships with the opposite sex. Being that as a young girl I always strived to make my daddy proud of me-I obeyed. This has left a lasting impact on me into adulthood. I was often shy around guys who I perceived to be potential.

When I was around 9 years old my dad took me to a family picnic that the community used to hold often when I was growing up. I was playing a game Red Rover with a bunch of other kids my age. If you're not familiar with this game, first of all you're missing out! It basically involves two teams with the members tightly embraced hand-in-hand making a human rope. One person is picked to try to run through the other team's rope and break the bond of hands. If that person is unsuccessful they must join the new team. We started out boys against girls and somehome I ended up being the first girl on the boys team. So I was holding hands with a guy on either side of me.

At one point my father walked into view and I became very self-conscious. I knew he would be disappointed to see me playing with the boys-much less holding hands. He just glanced over a few times then went away.

Good Muslim girls don't hold hands with boys,” was all my father said to me in the car during the drive home. “Ok” I said.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The first time we met

I was 23-amost 24 when me and Juice met. Juice had a light tan, short spiky hair, green eyes, and smelled nice. Sometimes when I'm walking in the cosmetics section in a department store I get a whiff of the cologne he wore and become nostalgic. He didn't have the best set of teeth, but everything else about the way he looked more than made up for it. He was also a careful dresser and impressed me by pulling off pinstripe dress pants. Me on the other hand, I was wearing an urban outfitters hoodie trenchcoat and wedged flipflops. I could tell he plugged in the iron that morning which is something I never do.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Once upon a very long time ago

I was a late bloomer in the relationship department. Always boy crazy, but too innocent and Allah-fearing to dip my toes into the water. In second grade I had a crush on my friend's big brother. He was at least 5 years older than I. He was a big kid and I was a little kid, but still he was cute and made a lot of fart jokes which I thought was hilarious. Interestingly enough I find him a little less than repulsive today, yet he's married (separated I now hear).

I was also in love with my teacher's son at the small private school my parents started me out in. He was a mischievous, skinny white boy with red hair. He didn't go to my school but would come hang out after his school let out. When I suspected he would be there that day I insisted on wearing a dress and that my mom put extra bobby pins and clips in my hair to hold back the frizzies.

My most memorable childhood crush lasted longer than I would like to admit. The son of a family that moved into our community when I was still watching Under the Umbrella Tree. All the girls thought he was cute but I was pretty sure I had the best chance to end up marrying him in the future. I may not have been tall or had pretty long straight hair (this was pre-hijab) but we had the most in common. We were both smart in school and said we wanted to be doctors. I thought he would never want a dumb girl even if she was really pretty (as you can tell, I really didn't know much about how guys think).

I must have been 8 years old when I told my father that I was in love with my crush (I said it in arabic too). My dad was lying down in bed and shot up at my announcement. “SHOOOOO” (whattttt). I repeated it but this time I was embarassed. I hated disappointing my father. He just stared at me and said “7araaaam” and I said ok. We never talked about guys, or fact things are still like that today in my household almost 20 years later.

From the Holy Quran

And of His Signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find peace of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion”
Chapter 30, verse 21 of al-Qur'an