Sunday, October 28, 2012

Women, we need feminism.

Before you read: words in quotations are ambiguous. Also, not everything may apply to you so no need to want to fight me. 

Maybe a victim. Or perhaps, a culprit. Normal?

Bullying 

The internet. Where is it taking us? All these social networks allow us to maintain 'friendships', which is fabulous. And I'll admit, Facebook is an integral part of my life. Let's be real though: haters are lurking from every corner of that page of yours (I'm mentioning FB because it's the only one I use diligently). Of course, this may or may not apply to you depending on your activity/popularity/exposure. And also, your weight. Which is the primary topic of this post.

A feminist concern to me: As women, we should have a better understanding of each other. But we don't. Before I go on, refrain yourself from thinking that all women are the same. Because we are not. Rather, it is the undeniable truth that we share many personal/political issues and are not alone. Instead, we are on a constant rampage of judging bodies and trying to fit a mold--a mold which itself is not fixed. I'm purposely separating the genders because while I may believe in equal rights, men and women do not share the same struggles. And even if we share similar pains, society's conceptualized "normal" is not the same for both. Don't argue with me that it is otherwise. So, why make this size-issue a feminist one or one that women should acknowledge to eliminate? Quite honestly, only women are capable of this. From birth, instead of learning how to be and stay healthy (which in no way equates with a 'skinny' body), we are taught to achieve thinness through whatever extent. My insecurities with weight/body image is nothing new. Why have I struggled? What makes a "larger" body a struggle

Anytime I've been called anything remotely close to 'fat' or 'big', upon completing a hysteria of tears, I'd sporadically begin an unhealthy weight-loss regimen. This included a day or two dedicated to starvation, running on the treadmill thinking that exercising for a few hours would fix life, and Googling quick methods to shed 30-40 pounds or pinpointing specific areas that needed more work than  others--specifically the face and tummy because we all know that a defined jawline without a double/triple/quadruple chin and a small waist with big boobs and a booty (okay, a bit exaggerated) are what makes a woman a woman. Na, chill.

But why? For what? For who? What drove me to behave in such an erratic manner? Fat rhetoric. Was it to please myself? Not really. Or the Desi aunties who meticulously keep your body in check to make sure it's suitable for the fat dude who'll propose one day? Sometimes. Maybe the boys? Eh. I'm inclined to blame it on society--but who makes up society? Who sets the standards for defining how a woman should look and behave? Men? Women? It's everyone. 

Women are taught to look a certain away--the same goes for behavior. And without a doubt women, we've fallen for the social pressures of needing to be 'thin' (whatever is defined by thin is indefinite)--because no matter how 'small' you are in size, there is a desire to get smaller. Anything but 'thin/skinny' is 'ugly', 'flawed', 'imperfect', 'abnormal', at least that's what women have been systemically brainwashed to accept. Women, this is a shared struggle. We need to redefine what society deems normal. I don't have answers because even I've fallen for the trap. After losing 50 pounds, I feel too sexy for my body. Clothes fit me. Men and women are checkin' me out. I have more energy--Lupus under control. I feel invincible. I fear gaining any weight. 

A year ago, Sazia was bullied via Facebook upon entering an immature 'beauty' contest. I was upset that she got herself into a 'competition' because why? Why do you need a competition to rate your looks? My strong, feminist side explained to her, "Don't give a shit, don't let them break you. Haters gon' hate, potatoes gon' potate" (maybe not the second part). The protective sister in me could not accept that she was being picked on because of her weight. I didn't have answers for her. She repeated the exact cycle that I used to resort to in wanting to lose weight. Did she learn this from me? Or are we women already inclined to deal with fat-taunts in such an insane manner? 

While I wanted to beat the shit out of these kids, that was obviously not the way to 'handle' the situation. Instead I cried. She cried. How was I supposed to make them stop? By telling her to become thin? Young boys and girls, who she left behind in elementary school (now ages 13-14), continued to critically examine my sister's weight by calling her hagrid, fucking cock meat whore (pause--what does this even mean? and why do children know these words?), I love how she cried to her sister and shit too, it's amazing what Photoshop can do these days, I mean she was able to remove the shit stain from her whole face.  This was all over Facebook. At first, my sister was hesitant to share this with me--she was scared. I would be too. And quite frankly, I wouldn't know how to deal with it because we're not taught how to deal, we're only taught how to fix: fix by becoming thin. 

Needless to say, upon observing their actions for a few hours (I really hoped they'd just stop and life would go on, but that didn't happen), I saved all the evidence--screen shots of their comments, made a list of their names (first and last), and dialed 911. 'Ignoring' might have been the best way to handle this situation, but for how long? Calling the cops put an end to her tears. But what now? She still has body issues and so do almost every women I know. 

Women, we need feminism. I'm not condoning thin or promoting obesity. Simply, I want us to realize this vicious cycle we're in. One that equates healthy/beautiful with a skinny body and a fat one with ugly/unhealthy. One that pushes women to starve, look for quick-fixes, and achieve these without understanding the consequences. One that teaches women that it is okay to resort to crazy methods. One that is in effect since birth. 

Women, let's change this. I know, I'm all words here and possibly a hypocrite. 

Women, we're capable of this. To understand each other, ourselves, and change the normalized notions of our body/health.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On (Some) Men and Weight Loss

I'll begin this piece with a clarification on my sexuality/mate preference/orientation: I am a straight woman. I date/pursue only men. Furthermore, (hopefully, this doesn't offend you) I comply with the gender norm of only noticing/paying attention to the men who wish to be with me. Thus, this post is most definitely biased. I will be generalizing (about some men). Hopefully the word "some" takes care of this issue. You may get very angry if you identify as a male. Heck, some women might disagree with me too. But I like that.

She washed the entire leg firmly. Not once, but twice. Naked in front of a woman. Eyes shut, until she finally said, "We're done here." Now, before everyone thinks I'm writing the lesbian sequel to 50 Shades, I'll stop. Right hip, officially replaced. Before going into the operating room, I underwent a partial wash-up which included a very lovely woman who sanitized my leg (front and back). And frankly, I couldn't stop giggling for two reasons: 1. I'm very ticklish. 2. With my right side fully exposed in front of a stranger, I was obviously uncomfortable and shy, but amused at how the woman was so chilled out and relaxed while washin' my leg. This is probably the most memorable part of the procedure.

The surgery was successful. And by this I mean, by the fourth week of recovery, I was actively walking without a cane and attending classes. Recap. The surgery took place on July 31st at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Within the first night, I was sitting up and standing in front of the bed. The second day, with the help of a walker, I walked from the bed to the door. That same afternoon, I walked over to the nurse's station. The catheter, a tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine, was also removed. By the evening, I was using the designated hospital bathroom. This was a joy even though the laxatives kept me in the bathroom for hours. On the fourth day, (with the walker) I walked around the entire floor. And by the afternoon, I was back in Brooklyn...home sweet home. Reading the above may leave some of you confused and perhaps apathetic because these pleasures - standing, sitting up, walking those 4-5 steps from the bed to the door - are difficult to appreciate without being incapable. 

Though I was excited and prepared prior to the date, on the day of, I was a nervous wreck. Maybe I'll never be able to walk. Maybe the doctors aren't looking out for me. Maybe I'll be in the hospital forever. After waking from surgery, needless to say, I touched my right leg to make sure it was still there. I know, I'm crazy. But to feel...yes, to feel life in my leg was assuring. I knew I'd be fine. I'd be walking again. Six weeks are officially over (the recovery time (healing process) for a hip replacement is about 4-6 weeks)...this explains why I'm walking around all over the place.

Some cane lovin' on Eid. Third week of recovery.
If this is the first time you're on my blog site or have missed the post on my left hip replacement, I'll quickly summarize what a hip surgery entails  (for an in-depth analysis as to why I underwent my second one and a detailed description of my pre/post-surgical experience, read through old posts). With a full hip replacement surgery, the deteriorated joint (two or more bones make a joint) is removed. The replacement options are metal or plastic parts. Both of my hips are replaced with plastic and ceramic pieces which are preferred for women who are at child-bearing age. After seeing my new hip(s) (the left is two years old now) on the x-ray sheet, my emotions were mixed. I was laughing. Crying. The precision of the surgery. The perfectly healed incision. Amazing. Alhamdulillah.

Now back to the introduction. 
The following will strictly be on Desi (specifically Bengali/Pakistani) boys.
I've lost weight -- 45 to be exact. I'm proud of my new body. The weight loss is becoming old news. But what's new is the attention from men. This attention isn't completely new because before Lupus, I was slim/at a 'healthy' or as I like to say, preferable weight (preferable for some Desi guys to pursue me). I had my share of attention from boys/men who would temporarily flirt around or claim to be in "love" with me. And at age 14-15, "love" was an exciting concept. I was easily persuaded by the few who were especially skillful in the art of talking...which of course led to more than one failed relationship. Also during that time, I didn't acknowledge the importance of weight/looks. I didn't think I was wanted or liked because of my looks/body. I used to think Damn, these guys want me because of my personality. Personality, haha! Basically, I thought I was the shit. 

After gaining weight, it hit me. Looks determine whether or not I have a good personality or if I'm worthy enough to be pursued. Disagree with me all you want. Not a single man looked at me with want or desire. Not a single guy was checkin' me out or wanting to "get to know me" (via Facebook, school, etc). Maybe these are/were the wrong men to seek a relationship with but not being pursued or thought of as "cute" or "hot" put me in a state of shock. While the guys stopped checkin' me out, the girls didn't think too highly of me either in terms of being in a relationship. I noticed that whenever I'd be with a guy, who, hypothetically speaking, could've been my boyfriend, no one asked if we were dating. However, if I was with a guy and a (normal body weight) girl friend, of course then, some didn't hesitate to ask, "Are they going out?" Like, bitch, is it because I'm fat that even though the guy is my friend, I'm not capable of being his girlfriend? I don't know what it is. A crazy complex of emotions come into play when I'm not acknowledged as a possible girlfriend to a guy friend. It's weird. 

Though I was completely furious with men and their selfish nature and began my Fuck men, I'm staying single forever mantra, I secretly wished I'd find 'a man' to prove me wrong. That didn't happen. It's very interesting to me that no matter how autonomous I like to feel without the presence of a man, somehow I wish I had, I'll say it, a fairy tale boyfriend. Cheesy and childish. However, at this very moment, being single is working out quite fabulously. At least I think it is.

How funny it is that since losing the weight, I somehow "seem like a cool person" to get to know. Or I was always "attractive" but he was "too shy" to approach me. Oh, and to hear "it was love at first sight, you might not believe it, but it's true." And the infamous, "listen, those other guys want to use you, but I'm not like them." Hush up. The same old lines...but I won't deny, I'm actually enjoying. Enjoying being able to reject and say Na, chill. Enjoying having a catalogue of men who want me -- intentions don't even matter. The types I attract (Men: please don't think you all fall into one or more of these categories. Women: maybe you've dealt with some of these?) can be categorized into four groups:

1. Consistent, but quick -- These boys are consistent for a calculated 2-3 days in their endeavors to slip into your pants (some are slick to convince you otherwise. Regardless of what they say, they want the vag.). These males will spend their entire day with you if they can. If not, they'll constantly text or Facebook message/chat you. This also includes buying you and your friends lunch/or whatever other meal. And a lot of sweet talking  that quickly leads to a one-sided sexual conversation. And the best part, when you don't give in to their dirty tricks, they are nowhere to be found. 
2. Consistent for a long period of time, but married/engaged/taken -- I am not a goddamn mistress. Nor a goddamn concubine. You're taken in some shape or form, stick to her (as a loyal partner). And don't bother me when you're single. By the way, is this a trend? 
3. Confident -- I seem to be attracted to these. I like my guys to be cool, subtly flirtatious, and make it  clear that they are attracted without being crazy obsessed. However, some will lead you on and keep you hanging as their side hoe. You'll be the one they call when it ain't workin' out with his other victims. And you'll probably pick up his call. And he knows you well enough to know that you'll pick up. Basically, you're fucked. 
4. And just plain thirsty -- These are the "love at first sight" guys who think they know you without ever getting/wanting to know you. These are the ones who think they know you by looking into your eyes or better, your heart. Really? 

Maybe there's some potential if given a chance (highly doubt it and you probably agree), but I can't seem to take any men seriously...which is probably the reason why, even if I flirt around here and there, I'm single and scared to be anything but single. 

This post may come across as a plea to search for a suitable man. It's not. I also don't want this post to seem as if I'm craving attention by acknowledging the spring of new but fleeting men in my life. I want to make sense of something that I'll probably never understand. The cycle that's in play here. Because even I know that I'm attracted to very specific men in terms of body type, height, and weight. And I actually won't even try to get to know a man (this is a possible boyfriend/husband--you can ask me how I differentiate between who makes the cut to be a boyfriend and who is a boy friend, but you don't have to) if he doesn't fit the external requirements. This is so harsh and I can't believe I just wrote it. 

And who knows, maybe some guy(s) is categorizing me as I conclude. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

nothing specific

This is a long post.

In my last piece I questioned the functions of my mind and body in disabling my personhood. I eventually accepted that what I'm living is not living. Since that post (July 15), I've become stronger.  Cliché, but I can't get over how perfect some things seem to work out. As much as I sometimes feel that states of sadness or depression will last forever, they don't.

I'm 21. And when I was diagnosed at 17, I had never thought I'd be the person I am right now. I imagined a different me at 21 when I was 17. It's very interesting because I pictured myself away from my parents in an out-of-state college. I'd be in my senior year of college, probably getting ready for medical school. Today, none of this is the case. Today, I have a list of medical problems. I'm not pursuing medicine, rather, battered women. I'm barely a junior in terms of credits. My close friends are graduating in the spring of 2013, I'm not. And lastly, I'm still living with my parents in Brooklyn. But surprisingly, it all feels right. But I'll come back to this.


Some Updates
I have completely transitioned to an adult rheumatology (lupus specialist) and orthopedic (hip/knee specialist) clinic at the Hospital for Special Surgery and nephrology (kidney specialist) clinic at the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College... all located in Manhattan. The switch was arduous and time-consuming... some days I thought, I'll never find a doctor. I'll just be my own doctor. Thank God that didn't happen. The transition is a success so far. New city, new doctors, and perhaps, a new me.  Cliché  might just be the title of this post. 

Since the shift, I underwent another kidney biopsy -- a procedure in which kidney tissue is tested for further analysis. Due to the increasing protein levels in my urine, the rheumatologist and nephrologist decided they needed to know what was going on and why. Finally! For all my friends pursuing the medical field, please take that shit seriously. I know there's money involved, but let's be mindful about treatment options and actually catering to the patient's needs immediately. I had protein during diagnosis (which indicated kidney disease/Lupus Nephritis), and now, four years later, it's still the case. Why? Is a question I asked as well. But the past doctors relied on answers such as "Well, it could be many factors...bla bla bla." "Bla bla bla, surgery." "This new medication may help, but... bla bla bla."  And conducting my own research online to solve the mystery wasn't the best idea as I found answers that terrified me. 

We've all done this.
After the biopsy, the results indicated Lupus activity in the kidneys -- one reason why there's an elevated amount of protein. Secondly, I had to stop the only working anti-inflammatory pain medication, Diclofenac. Such a beautiful medication. Now I am forbidden to take it because of its severe effects on the kidneys. Why didn't the doctors warn me about this before? Maybe around 2008 when I started taking Diclofenac? I'll never know, but now I'm always in pain. The kidneys are being treated with a new medication, Cellcept... I take 5 a day. If Cellcept doesn't save me or my kidneys rather, the options left are dialysis (filtration of the blood and removal of wastes...yea, research this) or a transplant (replacement of the organ to a healthier one). I'm not sure how soon I'll need any of these other options, but I'm not worried. Cellcept might work for me. 

Stopping Diclofenac was heartbreaking. Every ache that was cleverly hidden, is now alive. With my progressive bone disease (Avascular Necrosis), I have already accepted that one by one my joints will need replacement or some sort of surgical manipulation. However, Diclofenac was my only hope for putting off some of the major ones by at least a few years. Though I have taken narcotics before which have not worked to cure any pain at all, I was given Ultram (Tramadol, narcotic-like). Instead of feeling better, I felt nauseous, dizzy, and sweaty. Currently, I'm not on any pain meds. My handsome nephrologist, Dr. Patel, actually he's hot even though he's about 3 inches shorter than me, thinks this is "brave" of me. No, not that I am totally in love with him even though he's a midget. I'm brave because I'm not taking any pain medications. Is this bravery?

No pain meds, more pain. It's officially time to dress my hip with a new one. Next Tuesday, July 31st, I am scheduled to have my right hip fully replaced. Plastic body. Ceramic head. I'm looking forward.

Awakening
I wrote the previous post (mind/body dilemma) while feeling shitty. No pain medications. Only worries. About my future. Will I ever graduate from college? Why me? Did Lupus have to happen? When will the pain stop? As much as I try not to, I find myself occupied with these overwhelming thoughts. Though I'm very public about my series of illnesses, my feelings and emotional dialogue are repressed. Sometimes apparent in writing, but never in person. 

Since diagnosis, I've built myself to stay strong not only for myself but also for my family and friends. I know I have their support for when I'm an emotional mess, but I don't want them to feel worried or sad. Which is why I make sure that whoever I'm with, it's always just laughs and even if we get into a serious conversation, it's never an emotional one. 

I broke the cycle. Psychological problems are a taboo where I come from. Depressed? Keep yourself busy. Anxiety? You'll get over it. Stressed? Think positive thoughts. I used to take these mental downs lightly...very lightly. I didn't think they were so serious until I knew emotionally I was going through something more severe than just the manifestation of Lupus. Growing up in a family and culture where problems of the mind are up to the individual to fix or treat is how I tried dealing with it. When I realized some of my behaviors and moods (I don't want to go into detail as writing this is very hard for me to do) were out of the norm, I decided to see a therapist. No one likes to talk about this because while it is private, it is stigmatized and stereotyped. It took me eight months to build up the courage to see one. As the sessions continue, I'll write more about this. But so far, I know it won't hurt me. 

Support
My parents. The most supportive people I know. However, I've overlooked this tremendously. I've been attending my doctors appointments alone since turning 18. Going to appointments and college alone mean independence and the ability to take care of myself by myself. Recently, with all the emotional stuff going on, my rheumatologist suggested maybe you should bring a family member for support, maybe they need to see these tears. It's usually in her office that I find solace and the freedom to cry. In almost every visit, I've cried. I try not to look at my doctor because I know it's awkward and she's probably thinking to herself must she cry every time I see her? I don't know why I cry. I do, but I'm not sure why I find comfort among a complete stranger. I have no shame in looking hideous with my eyeliner and mascara running down my face. It's strange, but I always leave the appointment feeling much lighter. Another reason why the therapist is working, I can cry all I want

Last week and onward, my mother and father have been accompanying me. It reminds me of when I was in my pre- and elementary-school years where during the yearly/monthly check-ups, my mother, who knew very little English then, dealt with Sabia (the runaway) and I so patiently and never missed an appointment. Their support has stayed constant. It's interesting to think how before turning 18, I yearned to be 18 (an adult) and independent, something I defined as being able to do things alone. Now, 21, being with my parents and having them accompany me in these appointments makes me realize independence is shared. With their presence, I'm more confident. And though they still continue to ask a million and a half questions about things I simply do not want to answer and usually do not answer, it's okay. With them, my life is worth living.

The Parents. And might I add, they are the funniest people I know.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unsteady Balance

I feel compelled to ask What is life? Why is it? Is there any purpose to my particular birth? My being

Lupus is such that every day my body decides whether or not it will let me live. How I'll feel, how long I can stand on my feet, sit on my pitying ass, and walk the old bones. And most likely, I don't argue about it or get my parents or friends involved. I live in hope. And patience. That each day will be fine, regardless of the physical pain followed by the growing emotional distress. I'm actually contemplating about seeing a therapist, finally. Do you know how difficult it is to live in hope, patiently waiting for that day when I'll possibly be pain-free? Don't know how plausible it is, but it is possible. Isn't it? 

Every now and then I ask Allah (God). Why produce a being so useless? But the last month or so, I've become so faithful about my existence through prayer. I don't question existence. Rather, I question the virtues of patience and hope. I ask Him to bestow me with patience and the willpower to endure the pains...as if miraculously it will all be gone one day. It's possible, isn't it? Is it enough? 

I really wish I had my body to myself. Though I believe my mind and body are separate entities, the two fundamentally work together to produce what I am. I believe after four years of living Lupus, my mind is all I've got. The body is essentially present, but I know, it's not with me. 

Walking. I miss it. I'm mobile, but not mobile enough. And my ego is such that I'm ashamed to carry a cane. And ironically, I rather limp. But I know what it is. It's the yearning to stay absolutely independent. Or I'm probably afraid of embarrassment. It's mind boggling to me that I rather limp, a visible weakness and imbalance. At least with a cane the walk would be less wobbly and more steady. I don't understand myself. 

Some days, I walk with ease and comfort...I don't want to stop. The happiness that comes from a day of pain-free walking is unlike any other feeling of pleasure. Well, I'm still waiting for sex to happen. That might top walking. Other days, it's as if I'm dragging my legs to do the walking. The mind, trying its best to push and persuade, fails. I remember the time when walking was so automatic. Without any thought or attention, I'd walk and walk. Now, if I'm lucky, actually it's not luck anymore. The body is too stubborn to walk with me. 

Is the mind enough to live a life like this? I'm alive, but without the support of a body, am I living? 


Questions or comments? shahana.hanif@gmail.com. Please nothing anonymous.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

a transformative semester

I'm writing after almost two months and I don't know where to begin. A lot has definitely happened, but I'm questioning exactly which memories make the past few months special. Without question, this year (counting in semesters) was transformative. After being a part-time student last Fall 2010 and taking a medical leave of absence during the Spring 2011 semester due to surgery (read previous posts if you're confused), I began Fall 2011 part-time but continued Spring 2012 as a full-time student... and though I was hesitant and anxious about whether or not I'd have to drop a class or two because of Lupus-stress or the random pains, it all worked out. This is a blessing. I didn't have to drop any class...the only thing I dropped this semester were pounds. 45 in total. But this post isn't another weight rant. 

Before and after my left hip replacement and right hip core decompression, my orthopedic surgeon (the hip/knee specialist) strongly advised me to be home-schooled because of the severe Avascular Necrosis (AVN) on my major bones/joints (shoulders/elbows/ankles/hips/knees). AVN is a degenerative condition, meaning my bones are progressively deteriorating/dying with time. Time is a scary concept. This is the reason why I never plan for the future because really, how can I? I don't know which days I'll feel extremely well nor do I know when I'll be in bed all day. I'm forced to take it one day at a time. This is how I live and it's beautiful. Going back to Dr. Sinha's advice, I remember crying, but more importantly while crying, I told him home-schooling is not an option. I don't know if it's because I have a chronic illness that makes going to school and completing college so important or my love for knowledge (the second option makes me sound like the illest nerd, I know). It could be both... But I think it's the mobility and the ability to take the train, transfer to the bus, and walk to class which keep me moving and make this crap of a degree worth it. I didn't listen to him then, and I don't think I'll ever take his advice. If I'm going to be in school, I'm gonna be in a school -- which is definitely not at home!

There's not much to write in terms of what's been going on in my life, but I think this post will revolve around some of the greater motifs of the Spring 2012 semester. 

I'm still undeclared, but I've been taking Women's and Gender Studies and Broadcast Journalism classes. Clearly, I'm not thinking about my future (lol). Joke all you want, it's okay. I've become more of a feminist this semester. And with it, I feel the need to involve myself in women's issues and in all-women settings (will explain this in my next post)... I don't know if this is extreme, but I love it. This doesn't mean that I hate men or that I'm a lesbian. For me, feminism is about loving, accepting, challenging, empowering, and being the best woman I can be. I don't know what it is that pulls me closer to gender and sexuality studies... I really don't. But what I know is that these classes have helped me to become a very tolerant and perhaps a liberal individual in trying to understand what makes us the way we are -- I'm talking in terms of sociology, not biology! A different approach, but it makes sense. With that being said, I'm addicted to patriarchy and rape! Okay that came out wrong... This semester I took two very contrasting classes -- Core History and Sociology of Gender -- both of which inspired me to study and research global patriarchy and wartime rape of women. What's more exciting though is the fact that I know I want to pursue a PhD -- most likely in some gender and sexuality concentration!!! I know I don't plan for the future... but this is something that will happen.

"What's the most amazing thing that has happened to you in the past week(s)?" Think about it. Because this is a question that my classmates and I had to answer in my Sight, Sound, & Motion class. The question has nothing to do with the class or the day's lecture. Every week, the professor would ask some crazy-ass, random question. It's sad that this is what I remember from the entire class... but each week was a life lesson. Do you ever stop and think to remember what amazing thing happened during one week? What do we account as amazing? Maybe I'm looking too deeply into this, but on the real though, isn't it a great question? In response, after much thought, the only thing that came to mind for that week, was my stolen phone. Being without my baby for that one whole day was actually amazing... We all know I can't live without it, but I felt so light and unburdened. After that incident, I decided that each week I'd turn off my phone for a day... that hasn't happened yet. Fail. But the moral of the story, for me, amazing was more of a feeling than tangibility. It's weird, but I like it. 

For some other question he asked, I shared what is probably the craziest thing that has ever happened to me... it still freaks me out. While on my way to school on morning, I was accompanied by a bunch of art students with their sketch pads and pencils. I didn't think anything of it until after looking around the cart I realized everyone was sleeping or acting asleep... except for the art students who were coincidentally sketching these people... Just imagine everyone on the cart sleeping except for you... it's freaky as fuck, completely out of the norm, made me all jittery. I legit thought I was going crazy. Professor Jannone, because of you I'll always remember these and many other small moments that seem to have taken over my life. Thanks.

Throughout the entire semester, I wasn't on good terms with my best friend of 8 years. Many years and much depth. I won't go into the details of the fight but what I've learned is worth sharing. Yes, we've rekindled our friendship and it's one that will be stronger and better. While trying to solve and fix our friendship, we initiated several conversations via text and Facebook messages. A big NO. A big fail too. Texting and FB messaging made everything worse. We're both very, very stubborn people. She with her essay-long texts... and when mass texts come in, they're usually jumbled and hard to comprehend. I was never able to keep up. And me, I love to jump to conclusions. Upon trying to unscramble her texts, I'd give up and write something like, "That's it, we're done!" or "You don't need a friend like me. Take care of your life. Good bye." These messages via text sound dramatic and were definitely not the way to go. I ended up un-marrying her on Facebook and she ended up unsubscribing from my page... yup, hilarious, but reality. One day we finally decided to meet and talk. This was the best thing. Our friendship was saved by one face-to-face conversation. We were finally ourselves. Talking things out in person is so important and something we had never really done in the eight years. Our previous fights would ease with time. And with my other friendships, arguments would fade, a phone conversation was suffice, or we'd go our separate ways. This time we both took the initiative to talk and work on our shortcomings to strengthen our friendship. Change is possible only when you look within yourself (and of course you have to admit that you have a problem). I justify some of my behaviors as genetic or cultural... "This is the way I am". But what I've realized with her help is that if I try I can change some of the things I've brushed off as something rooted with my personality. We all have the ability to change our harshest characteristics. At least I believe so. 

I'm not letting you go anytime soon. Lesson learned... we're re-married and subscribed! 
Junior year of high school. Fashion show.
Noticing small details, observing surroundings, altering obstructive opinions, becoming passionate about women's research, identifying as a feminist, and accepting love. That's what this semester was about. 

I'll end with a very important quote by bell hooks, one of my favorite feminist writers:  

"It's in the act of having to do things that you don't want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lupus and Others.

I began this blog site thinking that each post would be about Lupus. But clearly I've overestimated Lupus's effects on my body as most of my posts have nothing to do with it. It comes and goes as it wishes. Almost like some "friends". This is why I know it's bad for me. 

I'll talk about Lupus first. I've changed my insurance policy and along with it all my doctors. The switch was kind of obligatory because I'm over 21 and since diagnosis I've been seen by pediatric specialists. It's hilarious walking into the clinic surrounded by infants and children. Secondly, I didn't feel that I was truly being taken care of, but I won't bash the doctors. Anyways, I'm officially a patient in the Hospital for Special Surgery -- probably the best in New York for rheumatology and orthopedic surgery. I'm excited but at the same time anxious. New changes freak me out especially in the case of doctors because there's a natural and almost invisible tendency to trust them without question. So far though, the blessings have not stopped. God, parents, and friends are always with me. I don't show my sincerity or appreciation enough... but without these three blessings, I'm a nobody. And you are too. Argue/disagree, do your thing.

I decided to write today -- currently 8 am on a Tuesday -- because I'm not feeling well. You're probably questioning my course of actions because instead of resting I'm writing. Writing for this blog is how I relax and let go. Peculiar, but it works.

I went to sleep very early last night - and by early I mean early, 9:30pm!!! But I woke up way too many times and couldn't sleep deeply or comfortably. The pain didn't let me. I'm limping and my legs are hurting. This could mean two things: either something is wrong in the joints/bones -- knees for now (nothing new though, but some days the pain is silent and during others, all up in my face). Or, that I'm stressed and this is the body's way of telling me to have a drink, get a massage, and rest. Or a possible combination of both. With school in full session, I've been quite negligent toward my health... but don't bash me. It's hard to juggle school and disease especially because I'm full-time this semester. Even with this struggle, school is where I surround myself with the positives. Even if I miss a dose of meds, I feel good. Mind over body? I don't know. But there's never a dull day. Chops and Naz, you two are the biggest losers but also the biggest blessings for me this semester. I may be in pain, but the everyday laughs and togetherness (as cheesy as I sound right now) is what keeps me going.

The Trio.
Lupus is sneaky in its appearance. But not as sneaky as some people. I haven't met a lot of horrible people, but the few I've had the displeasure of meeting have made me realize what a pleasure it is to not have them in my life. Maybe I expect too much or think whoever I connect with will be a friend. But some people either don't want it or have other intentions. This shit upsets me, and I know it shouldn't. Don't dishonor what can be a beautiful relationship by being a bitch. If you're looking for a friend, let's talk, let's be there for each other. But if you're looking to fuck around (not necessarily sexual) and be flaky and shady as fuck, keep your distance. This is not what a friendship entails. 

I know everyone's experienced this. Time(s) when you're trying to win over or expect a friend out of someone. But you fail every time.

I wanted you in my life and I'm not sure why or maybe I do and don't want to admit it anymore... and the further away you went from me, the closer I wanted you. Why did I run after what was running away from me? Was I actually blinded? Or was this what I wanted? To pursue the unpersuasive?  

Nothing is ever good for you. I'm sick of being a part of your dirty tricks. Tell me to fuck off, give it to me straight. Yes, you didn't want me, but why did you keep me around? So that you can text or call when your ass is needy and no one else is around but me...and you know my shameless ass will reply or pick up? No, the joke is over. 

All along I've been looking for an answer, but now I know that you actually don't have one. In fact, this is just how you are. I used to be upset trying to figure out what I did or what went wrong with something that started off nice, but it's not me. It's you. So, figure your shit out and don't come back.

I wonder what's worse... Some humans or some diseases?

For others dealing with this, don't deal with it anymore. End it.

Done.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

I like you.

This post is supposed to be about bullies and bullying. However, I've changed my mind and have decided to further delay that topic for something light. Something of love. But I prefer to use like.

Like, we're all familiar when you're attracted to someone so passionately. Of course, this is 80% sexual. At least when talking about myself. I see him and just imagine undressing him or him undressing himself. Why do we wear pants anyways? Or shirts? Or whatever else? Anyways, this thinking is done in a very soft and secure gesture...all in my mind. I love that, so rebellious. And in real, we sit, chat, and all is very proper (appropriate) and casual. Hands folded or close to myself. Calculated distance of how close or far we sit from each other. We never look eye-to-eye at the same time. If we do, it's quick. But I know you know my thoughts of like. And it's great, because I've even told you, quite shamelessly. 

The remaining percentage is actually dedicated to some feelings that are not of lust. This 20% is more abundant than the hunger to be inside him. My thoughts are so consumed. Your smell. Your eyes. Smile. And your laugh, which makes me laugh. Lips. Hands. Hair. Innocence. Caring. Sometimes your kind. When you bought me coffee. I actually hate coffee. But I like seeing you. Awkward, my favorite quality about you. Above all, a jerk and true to your gender. Which is fine. But tell me, why do I look for you even in places you're invisible? Why, in most conversations, do I try to include you (nameless, of course)? Why do I revisit the places you might be in? My mind tells me, "Okay, today, we will not text. Run into you "by chance". We will not 'like' your status or whatever despicable profile picture you decide to put up next. We will not be the first to Facebook chat you. We will not like you anymore."  

I text...or call. I run into you...so many times, and it's never enough. I 'like' your thoughtless statuses, some are okay. I 'like' your pictures. I chat you first. And it feels so good. Sometimes I feel pity, but even that feels good. I like you with all of me. And of course, the feelings are not mutual. I know. The misery is one-sided, however, sweet and serene. 

I'm not looking to undo this performance. Nor am I trying to win you over. You give me that comfortable happiness that is different from the rest. And I'm not letting go of that. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Very Irrelevant Post.

I love reading lists people compile of random shit that intrigue, bother, inspire them which in turn intrigue, bother, and inspire me. I've been working on such a list - a list of useless (maybe) and relevant thoughts circling my mind. Thoughts that are involuntary and short in words. Thoughts I can't or maybe don't want to expand. For this post, which is very much an experiment, I've written out most of my thoughts prior to publishing in a structured form. Yes, anytime something came up, I wrote it out on paper or the memo application on my phone. And yes, this Winter break is already bland and I have nothing better to do but write out my thoughts. All of this thinking makes me think why some of these thoughts come to mind in the first place... why do we think? What triggers some of our thoughts?

1. Lupus. I'm searching for a rheumatologist. I am no longer fit for the pediatric clinic. I've declined surgery for my right knee. Not sure if this will prove to be good...but I'm doing well. I feel quite powerful and independent making this decision. Love saying NO. Overall, I am doing very well. However, next semester will be a tough one because the cold weather is not so much of a friend. If I ask to hold your hand while walking, going up or down a flight of stairs, stepping out of a car, just comply. Don't worry this isn't an excuse to get freaky with you.

2. Why is it that when I put a beautiful picture of myself...the comments or lack of...are so disappointing? Meanwhile, I'm not going to name names, upload pictures of their repulsive selves and manage to get attractive comments...why? Why though?

3. I don't have a boyfriend. Do I need one or do I not need one? My intolerable attitude toward men is still a mystery to me. 

4. My personal radio show -- Brooklyn College, Spring 2012. No fixed title or theme yet. However, you better be ready for me. This is just the beginning. 

5. I don't want to get married. None of the women in my family are happy. Why? But I do want to get married. And I want a grand proposal.

6. My next post is on bullying.

7. Honestly, the friends who are so damn busy all semester long...like, really? Are you really that busy? 

8. My face is fat. It needs to go!
8A. Crotch fat, why?

9. The Aunties advising me stop my no-rice/carb diet, shut up. 
"What?!? You don't eat rice? It's the best thing ever!!!" -- Yeah, this actually happened.

10. For those who think it's a joke when I greet you with "Yo, wuddup?" Stop. Okay, fine, I try to be funny. And I like it when you laugh.

11. Whenever I befriend a new guy...I wonder how long he'll last -- how long we'll remain friends. And I've noticed, they don't last. Only some.

12. Will I be okay? Will my friends be okay?
12A. How's Kumkum? -- (the middle child aka my sister living in France)

13. My parents are hilarious. I'm pretty sure that's where I get my funnies.

14. Requests from unknown people on Facebook. No mutual friends... not sure why you're trying to add me.
"It's hard to make conversation with a stranger."
--"Oh, really? Make it easy."
"I have no interest, sorry."
--"Think that you know me and ask whatever you want...When you came to this world, your mother and father knew you first and then day by day everyone began to know you. Think like that."
"I just have no interest to pursue a friendship with you."
--"Why I bad person!"
So up until the last line, I've rephrased and grammatically corrected what he was trying to say. Yes, this actually happened.


15. My friends are comedians. God bless them all. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December 31, 2011.

For all who have left me. For all who are with me. For all who I'm with. For all whom I've left. For all. It's a new year.


.divine.delusion.
I saw it.
I’m dead.
Or maybe, I kept thinking to myself, this is Hell.
I called Allah to save me.
Questioning His deceit,
Is this it? This is death isn't it?
You were all against me,
While He stayed.
“Help me!”
“Help me!”
Please!!!
Forcefully.
Screeching. I can’t hear myself.
Fuck. No one can hear me.
Invisible.
Park. Ambulance.
Only I can see.
I screamed louder.
Heart. Trembling.
Breaths so slow. Beats so rapid.
Hands. Shaking.
Surroundings s l  o   w    e     d      .       .        .
“This is how you’re supposed to f e   e    l    .”
“Take me home!”
“I’m sick.”
“But dude, what are you going to do at home?”
“Why are you guys doing this to me?”
Save me from rape.
Text to you.
“If I die, know that I love you.
Sorry, not sure what that means.
Text to mother.
“In trouble.”
“Save me.”
Time discontinued. Paused.
It wasn't me.
Who was it?
The cracks on my limbs healed.
Walking, 
     walking, 
          walking.
...endlessly...ylsseldne...
“Eat something. Let’s get her Cheetos.”
Drowning. Can’t breathe.
…saved by Divinity. 

Starting the new year with a purpose. With God.