Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Home

We're moving. I came home from work one day last week and found a Coming Soon sign posted up in my front yard. I didn't expect to feel anything when it finally happened, but I had this strange knot in my stomach, and I had to take a second to breathe before getting out of my car and walking into my home.

On Monday morning I walked out of my house for work and I saw a family of three pointing at the windows around the house. We looked at each other, and they awkwardly started walking away. I called out, "Hi!", they returned the greeting, and stood in place to stare and point some more. It's a really strange feeling moving away from the house you've lived in for most of your life. It doesn't really seem too much like our house anymore, though, since we've been renovating it for the last few months and we've had to move all of our stuff around.

After living away at college for 4 years, I'm pretty used to packing.. but I always knew I'd come back home. I think once you leave a place you've been for so long, it doesn't really sink in that you'll never revisit it. I remember the night before I had to move out of VCU. I cried uncontrollably knowing it was all over. At some point I'll probably accidentally make a turn onto a street leading up to this old house when I move away, but I don't mind.

I'm a little bit of a hoarder, too, so I have a lot of old stuff like journals I've kept while growing up, and my old Raggedy Ann doll. I like to keep a physical copy of my memories so that I don't forget them. I'm so grateful for all of the experiences I've had while living in this house, and it makes me aware of every remaining moment I spend here with my parents and my family. It's like leaving high school. You know you can always visit, but the desire to go back eventually fades because the people have changed, and you're all of a sudden a stranger. You can't visit an old house like that... it'd be weird to knock on someone's door to tour a place you once lived in, or to show your kids where you accidentally punched a hole in the wall that one time.

It's bittersweet. I'm really excited that my parents are moving to Florida because they'll finally get to relax without the burden of their "four little brats" :) I'll miss them a lot but it means more to me that they're happy and stress-free, soaking in the much-needed Vitamin D. Hey, I guess this means a ton of trips to the beaches and a warm escape from the cold Virginia winters. I think they'll enjoy it quite a bit. Home will be a daily vacation for them.

I remember when I was younger I was kind of embarrassed because a lot of my friends and classmates lived in huge houses that had more space than their 4-person family could ever need. Imagine, though - I had heat, running water, a roof over my head, a fridge full of fresh food, clean clothes, computers, and comfortable furniture to relax in after a hard day of school. I had everything my dad worked for - from being a class clown at his school in Karachi, Pakistan, to being successful in his job, community, and family. I had all the care my mom put in - from taking jobs that would allow her to spend as much time with us as possible while we grew up, to STILL making sure we get to work on time. I'm so thankful for this home, and everything and everyone in it.. because it really isn't the roof over my head that matters as much as the nourishment that happened beneath it.

We call several places home throughout our lifetimes, and I'm so thankful to have lived here, in this house, with the crazies... my family.

a portrait I took of my dad on the roof of the building he ran - last week of work before his retirement :)
my mom - waiting patiently as I take portraits of my dad at work :P


Monday, September 8, 2014

Brothers 'til the End of Time: A Brief History

This is Ben.
Ben is my best friend.
SUPER AWESOME HANGOUT THAT WE'RE BOTH ENTHUSED ABOUT
Ben and I have been friends since we took a Spanish class together our sophomore year of high school. One day we added each other on AIM, and the rest is history! We've remained close since then despite being told that all friendships fade as you grow older. When we were juniors, we were lucky enough to have had English together, and sat in the back and spent the whole period laughing. We obsessed over Harry Potter and casted spells on our AP Psychology teacher with our pencils (maybe that's something that shouldn't be publicly announced, but whatever), and Ben carried my backpack up the steps between classes because I was so out of shape. I remember one day just randomly going to his house and meeting his mom and embarrassing the crap out of him because he had never had a female friend over.

During our senior year we both bonded over not wanting to drink or smoke weed with most of our other friends, and in the summer that followed, Ben stuck by my side and helped distract me from what I considered then as heartbreak. In college we grew apart briefly but it was like old times whenever we got back in touch. He visited me at VCU, and I FINALLY visited him at CMU during my last year. Now that we're both done with college, and over a year has passed since then, we text daily and keep each other in check when it comes to decision making. All this and he's on the other side of the country! He's the only guy in my life, outside of family members, who has been there for me for as long as he has. He's literally the one person who doesn't seem to fade; he's a constant.

twins
He's one of the smartest guy I know and I'm always impressed by the things he knows or is trying to learn, and he actually takes time to explain things that are completely foreign to me, which I appreciate very much. And he's the FUNNIEST person in the world, which I also appreciate very much! :P

We are really N'Sync (LOL) with one another - we have both had similar things happen to us around the same time, and we've leaned on one another to deal with it. If he wasn't an Atheist Jew, and I wasn't a Muslim, we agreed that we would totally be married right now. That being said, if you want this handsome guy to be yours, hit me up. All interested parties must be screened by me.

Thank you, Ben, for always being there for me.. and for just being you. You're the BEST BEST BEST.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Listserve - Leading up to Love

Back in May I was selected to write on The Listserve, out of a pool of more than 20,000 people. It wasn't that I was smarter than anyone, or experienced more; it was a random lottery. Every day someone is chosen to send an e-mail to the rest of the people who are on the list. Literally, you just plug in your e-mail to the site, and you receive an e-mail each day from someone, anywhere in the world. People send WHATEVER they want - all text. The other day I received an e-mail from someone in San Francisco, CA, tomorrow I'll probably receive an e-mail from someone from a country I've never even heard of. I love hearing about peoples' ideas, adventures, favorite books, life lessons, obstacles, reflections, and all. When I got chosen, I actually missed the 48 hour deadline because I'm AWFUL at checking my e-mail. Luckily, I contacted them and after learning that I could never be put back in the drawing if I missed my turn, the lovely staff gave me a second chance. I didn't have anything crazy to say, but I was excited at the idea of being able to share my thoughts and experiences with the world, however basic those ideas may be. If I offered some sort of understanding, or had someone relate to me, I did something right... and I did! I received a couple dozen e-mails in response by people who were somehow affected by my words:

[The Listserve] Leading up to Love

I was hoping I would win the Listserve at 25 when I have it all figured out. All the 25-year-olds are probably shaking their heads because they're waiting for 30 when they'll have it all figured out. Maybe we're all clueless. But maybe that's a good thing! Imagine a life so intricately planned out. Where's the fun in that?

I’m 23 years young and I have no sense of direction, whether it’s on the road or in life. I really don't care about being a legend or being remembered. I want to enjoy my life, do good, and be happy with the people I love. I live about 15 minutes away from Washington, D.C., working at a nonprofit where I couldn’t be happier. Part of the reason I think I'm so optimistic is because of my faith, Islam, and the whole whatever's-meant-to-happen-will-happen idea. I keep this in mind when I'm feeling down and you'd be surprised how quickly it shifts my perspective.

My family is a bit crazy, but it makes for interesting conversation. My mom is a red-headed white woman who grew up in DC, and my dad is a Pakistani brown man who came to the states in the 70's. I wear a hijab, or headscarf, and we as a family confuse and amuse people quite a bit…

Sometimes I even confuse myself. For the past year I’ve been jumping between wearing a traditionally-styled scarf and a stylish turban. Although I rock the turban, one of the main reasons I wear it is to avoid negative reactions from people who are a little less open-minded. It sucks because I don’t want to hide my religion, but I don’t want to be looked at as an outsider, either.

While I don't want to get into the implications of displaying my faith openly wherever I go, it's shaped who I am today. Some of it good, some of it I could do without. I'm overly-considerate. This may sound great, but I envy the people who do what they want regardless of what others might think. I'm very observant of others and I generally make decisions based off how I think others will react. I'm trying to slash stereotypes and change the face of Islam. It's what got me interested in filmmaking as a hobby.. the Muslim perspective is almost nonexistent. Sometimes I’m excited about the opportunity to represent Islam. Sometimes it’s too big of a responsibility to try and take on.

Ok, that's enough about me. Today I gave a ride home to my friend Michelle, who told me about how she met her husband and how deeply in love with him she still is. And the cool thing about it is that he's deeply in love with her too! She talked about something seemingly obvious, but often ignored... A relationship should have an equal amount of input. It can’t be one-sided. So make sure you're showering all the right people with your love.

Love is the most important thing in the world. Love the little things, like good food. Take it all in. Love yourself, love God if you can, love your family, love your partner. Make sure you're getting and giving a healthy dose of love.

S/o to my sister/bestfriend Samirah, my crazy brother Khalid, my friends Zaid and Sue Sue, who share my Listserve love, and Lina, who hopefully succeeded in helping me avoid looking like a fool with this email.

I give to: IRUSA
I rant at: PinkGingerale (BlogSpot)
I write for: Coming of Faith



--

If you had something to say to 1 million people, what would you say? I highly recommend the Listserve to EVERYONE. Meet strangers from across the globe, experience cultures, open your mind to strange and exciting things, offer a hand to someone in need. Every day I get one e-mail that makes me smile wide, and I learn something. Everyone has experienced something that no one else in the world has experienced. This is what makes us unique, while bringing us all together. Join us in connecting the world :)

I'm not sponsored by The Listserve, I just wanted to share.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Side-Braid Turban Tutorial for Hijabis


I posted this tutorial a short while back, and I wanted to share it here on my blog. I used to wear this turban style inspired by Ascia AKF after attempting it with a plain scarf that I bought from H&M. I wanted to try something new and found a really great tutorial by Yaz the Spaz, here. It's a lot more comfortable and is super cute. It works with both a triangle scarf and a rectangular one. There are so many different styles people are doing nowadays... or at least, it seems like nowadays because I never saw any of this before I got Instagram :P! I love that you can go all out, style it up different ways and really create a look that represents YOU. I'm not at all interested in fashion, nor am I too risky when it comes to clothing. I like to be comfortable... I love my crocs :). I usually like what's trendy, but I'm becoming less and less influenced by my peers. Fashion is fun, I like to see it, and maybe some day I'll be a great shopper, but for now... I'm good. I love hijab, and I'm completely comfortable wearing the turban. If you want to know why I wear the turban my answer is simply, because I want to.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Isn't She Lovely?

visiting my grandmother: Mom, me, Umar, and Nana
we made her laugh all day so she was giving her smile a break :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Richmond, my 2nd Home

Trips to Richmond are my favorite, as you know if you've been following my blog. Maybe I love Richmond excessively, which isn't too healthy, but I lived there for four years so it's definitely got a huge place in my heart. I visited in early April this year, and I want to share my good feelings and way more information than needed with you all. I'm trying to catch up in posting since I've been MIA for so long :P bear with me. bare with me. bird with me.

A morning run with my bff, Erin, at Hollywood Cemetery. It was my first time there, and it was BEAUTIFUL. She's in the National Guard so she's super fit, and I'm in the National Donut Club, which isn't a real thing, so I'm super slow. Look how beautiful we look with no makeup on! Ahh, naturaaal. I love the feeling.
After our run/walk (lol because I'm awfully out of shape), we got made up to spend our day adventuring. Red is one of my favorite colors to wear, as many of my photos show. I'll wear it every day, I don't care!
I love her because she, like me, is down to look like a fool for our own amusement. We do the most ridiculous things together. She's so down, I can't even handle it sometimes. I'm like, "Erin, let's make a movie!" and he response is always "HECK YAH!" Ahh, I'm so thankful for good friends. 
Lunch at Strawberry Street Cafe with the girlies. Mariam is too cute.

Nadiah and Sameen ready to chow down on brunch at the cafe :)) love them! 
I love Karl so much - he's one of the most talented people I know. He does it all. He's always there for me when I need a badass photo to be taken.

TORIAN is one of my favorite people at VCU. This time when I saw him, he literally made me cry my eyes out from laughing so hard at some pranks we did in our early VCU days. I think of him as a tough critic, but I value his opinion so much when it comes to art of any form, especially film.

Robalu Gibsun is my favorite poet in the entire world. He is the reason I first got into and started to love slam poetry. I just want to write down everything he says in my moleskin journal and keep it forever.
Jessika with a "k" was my resident and now she's an RA :') I'm so proud of her for her hard work to get the position and maintain it. She's going places, and I can't wait to see where. IGGY is my Social Work buddy for life, even though we both decided we probably don't want to do Social Work for the rest of our lives. I met him the summer of 2009 during our VCU orientation. We sat by each other while picking classes for the upcoming semester and since then, we've slacked off in more classes together than you can think of before getting rejected together by Teach for America and deciding "F*** this Sh**"
this is how dorky I look when I laugh
Find me a reason to go back, please.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekend Reflection - Self Improvement

I'm on a serious mission. A lot of people wouldn't guess that I'm really insecure because of how I interact with others and carry myself, but it's true. My mission is this: to break free of my insecurities. It has proven to be quite challenging, but I'm going to push myself to avoid negative thoughts. While speaking to a friend, Rahmah Popal, at Jummah this past week, I was reminded that everyone faces these challenges, but it's those who rid themselves of major insecurities who are really able to be free. The last time I had a deep conversation with her was almost exactly a year ago, and while she was convinced she had a greater purpose in this life, but had no clue which direction she was headed. Now she seems to have it all figured out (Mashallah!), and she really did inspire me to just keep looking forward and hold my head up high.


I'm a roller coaster when it comes to self-image; one day I'll be completely happy and proud of myself, other days I magnify every flaw of mine and it really brings me down. Over the last couple of years I've become less social and I value privacy and exclusion more, which directly relates to how I see myself. And it sucks because I've actually felt myself changing year by year... There are reasons for the huge shift in my thoughts and behaviors; it's because I lost trust in people who let me down and I fell into a state of what some of my close friends diagnose as depression. I'm not really sure if I've been depressed, but honestly the way I feel sometimes points directly to the illness. When I put my heart into making things work with others, I expect the same in return and I'm always disappointed... it fuels my lows. I spent every ounce of my love on another person and at this point, I'm all spent out. I'm tired of feeling worthless. I need to aim higher for me. I need to direct all my love inwards, towards my family, and most importantly towards God. Instead of my focal point being someone I love romantically, I'm working on developing a new center: my relationship with God. I'm not really sure how I'm going to do this, it's much easier said than done. I will, though.

Here's to aiming higher - because we all deserve a little lot of self-love. Join me in battling insecurities.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This Moment, and Every Moment

sometimes, I like reminders.
this is me reminding myself how important this moment I'm living in is.
I am blessed to be witnessing the right now, and I want to take it all in.
Each moment I experience is a chance for renewal and revival,
a step closer to overcoming life's obstacles, and a step further away from ignorance and naivety.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Opportunities

For years I admired the beautiful building at the White House from the outside. This year I've gotten the chance to visit the Eisenhower Building twice - the first to meet Muslim women leaders from all over the country and participate in a workshop about film and media, and the second as a staff member at Islamic Relief USA, to photograph a meeting with government officials to discuss collaboration between nonprofits and governmental programs/resources to aid those in need. I admire those who dedicate every day towards humanitarian work. I'm so proud to be a part of such an amazing nonprofit. After graduating from VCU (the one true love of my life), I struggled, as many young graduates do, to find a job that I loved. Almost a year after graduating I got hired and I couldn't be happier. So far I've been to Arkansas to photo-document our organization's response to the tragic tornado that hit, I've been to many governmental buildings, I've met celebrities and humanitarian heroes, and I've even presented in front of an audience of over 700 people! Get involved and make a difference in whatever way you can! It's such a rewarding feeling and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll develop skills and be granted opportunities because of your skillset. I'm so thankful, alhumdulillah every day.
the Eisenhower Building at the White House
this is fun, but nobody's life is perfect. i mean, look at my untucked shirt!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stay with Me

It's hard convincing people to stay.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

DC Cupcake & Macaron Tour

Earlier this summer my friends and I made the AMAZING decision to take a tour in Georgetown, DC... Not just any tour... a Cupcake and Macaron tour! It was delicious to say the least. We enjoyed learning little bit about the history of the old city of Georgetown, and tasting the newest trends - which were REALLY delicious. We went to 7 different places and my favorite of all was the Earl Grey macaron from Macaron Bee. To learn more about this experience, click here.

Meeting up for the DC Cupcake and Macaron Tour - Hungry, and so ready!

First stop - SPRINKLES Cupcakes!

At Thomas Sweet we stuffed our faces with amazing fudge

a sweet tooth satisfied makes for smiles all around

Macaron Bee! This was the first macaron I've ever tried... and it was amazing. I decided to try Earl Grey because it was such a unique flavor for a dessert, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made in life.

Olivia Macaron

a mint flavored macaron? Yes, please.

We were given a sweet welcome at the famous Dean & Deluca

The Nation's Capital!

Yes, please! (except no, because we were stuffed with sweets at this point)

Naema and Nabiha trying to figure out a (real food) lunch spot

being serenaded while walking down the street... what a privilege!

The infamous Georgetown Cupcakes from the TV show. The line was out of the shop and up the hill as it always is, but our tour guide rushed in and got our batch, which we quickly devoured on this last stop of the tour.

ending the afternoon with the best of foods - BURGERS.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Beaches and Dreams

Earlier this summer I went to the beach with some friends... it was the best beach trip I've ever been on! I've had bad experiences as a hijabi - not knowing what to wear that wouldn't draw too much attention or that would be comfortable to swim in and quick-drying. This time before we went, we made it a point to take a shopping trip the week before. We got silky leggings and long tops and went on our way :) I didn't feel self-conscious at all and that's because the company was so amazing. I didn't care so much for the beach before, but I've found a new love.

I OWN THE BEACH, SUCKAS!
POCAHONTAS PANCAKES<3 comment-3--="">
Mohammad after lunch, ready to surf the waves
LOVE THESE GIRLS. Coworkers/Friends/Homies
my standard don't-give-a-shit pose
Mazin flyin' high on the shore
I ran into Saira and Sara, my two college friends, while at Pocahontas restaurant! SMALL WORLD, INDEED. They tried to hug me when they were soaked and my clothes had already dried. Eep!
Trying to get a bird's eye view of the sand ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shrivel


Monday, August 11, 2014

Her Name is Kedest

her name is Kedest and she distracts me from every bad thing in this world.
her free spirit is a reminder of the importance of each moment and the insignificance of tomorrow while today is young with arms wide open, inviting.
Kedest is an Ethiopian name meaning "Saint" or "Holy" and today she reminded me of forgiveness in a way that was so relevant to me and looked so easy for her but forgiveness is anything but.
she made me lunch and we sat and talked, and it was so much better than sitting side by side in front of a big screen playing a movie that neither of us would remember but we'll remember this.
we, as friends, are so many things. we are Richmond, we would say, we are strong, we are unusual, we are crazy, hazardous maybe, we are today, we are...
compelled to push one another to reach all of the potential that we harness now, and raise ceilings and break down walls, and we're young but we're good.
we were put in each other's life to share a smile and a laugh, a healthy meal and an unplanned personal ad.
Kedest, thank you.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stars & Stripes & Stripes


I'm going to start taking photos again.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

eventually

I want to move to nowhere and be untouched.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My least favorite thing in the world is a goodbye.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

I just finished throwing away two handfuls of used up tissues from crying after reading this book.

I'm not sure how I feel about sad books. It's really impressive when an author can trigger different emotions in you or create entirely new feelings about characters you sense you've known your whole life (which is equally as impressive). Try your hand at dialogue. It's agonizingly difficult.

If you think of books as an escape, sad books suck. If you're eluding the inevitable tragedies of the life you're living, it'd be kind of weird for your solace book to be one that leads you to sob uncontrollably at the outcome of characters you've grown to love.

However, if you're able to read for the sake of reading; to enjoy and appreciate good literature, sad books don't suck so much. I like the sugar-free stories that are realistic and relatable, where tragedy strikes but people get back up on their feet. You can learn to be resilient, and maybe stories are the most enjoyable ways to be taught.

On the other hand, I can't help but indulge in the light-hearted romantic comedies or the classics that are cleverly written but don't stir up any unwarranted sentiments.

Whatever your reason for reading, read on. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

just me

I AM ALONE.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sirens

starts with soft snores.
thunder small enough
to be kept in jars.

i know what it’s like to be laying
next to you memorizing
your breath, so i can tease

you about it and we can laugh
together in the morning.
is that love? is it love when

you tease me about my clumsiness?
at this point, you have stopped
snoring. somewhere there is fire.

somewhere someone is hurting.
tonight, it is not us. tonight,
we are listening to the sirens

fade. tonight, they carry
their news somewhere else
and love is a little more urgent

when the background music is sirens.

—José Olivarez, Poet


I've never seen this poem before, and I doubt I'll ever see it again unless it's archived forever in pinkgingerale

thoughts in slumber


I had a dream that you took me to Colorado but didn't let me see the mountains.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Inside Out

It's relieving to know that people still see something in me I thought I'd lost a long time ago. You never know how others see your glow.
Alhumdulillah, despite the scrapes and bruises I've picked up along the way, I still have a bit of me that doesn't seem to be fading in the slightest.

Wear your glow inside out for the world to wonder about.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Selfie Nana

My sister's conversation with my grandma:

"Me: Nana, let's take a picture. (With cell phone) 
Nana: oh how do you get it right away? 
Me: it's technology today. It takes the photo right away. 
Nana: ohh isn't that interesting. You could just take pictures of yourself all the time. 
Me: yes, it's called a selfie. People take pictures of themselves all the time! 
Nana: take a picture of the girl over there." 

LOL
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