Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SAND...Hmmmp!


is working on some words to say to Sand. Yes, Sand. Hmmph!
05 February at 15:34

In response to this FB post, I wrote the following:



Sand, you are Victorious.





To you, I concede.

Wear your crown, Honorable Sir, your gritty, dusty crown!

You are everywhere, you omniscient conqueror. You are on my bed, in my butter; you languish upon the shiny skins of apples, pears and plums. You cloak every green leaf of potted foliage at my windows and you linger on the air, in your finest dust-like form, creating a haze that hangs heavy in my home. Oh, wretched Sand!

And the fool that I am, I waged war against you, Sand. I marched towards you…ON you, armed with battle weapons, brooms and mops, furniture polish and dust cloths, promising your defeat, you insidious foe! With eyes set, back bent, poised on haunches, locked in combat with you. Elbows, arms moving as pistons, back and forth, back and forth, fighting fiercely against you, to repel you…out, off, up, from countertops, coffee tables, curtains, corners, crevices, all.

Yet you stand, Sand, as an ancient General of the desert. You troop over this land, toppling all you survey. You exist only with Sun and Wind here, Sand, and you reign supreme above these, your pawns. You have commanded Sun to dry and splinter you into smaller, yet smaller particles, extracting any trace of Water which might hold you, make you heavy, make you rest, render you less elusive, less invasive. You have cajoled Mountain, once composed of Rock, to crumble, crack, crust over into you, and become Dune, mighty, majestic dunes of you, oh narcissistic Sand! And Wind, it too has become your minion. It carries you throughout the expanse of this land on it’s wings, into doorways and windows, into eyes and open mouths, even as they gaze upon you and speak unwittingly of your dazzling array of colors; your red ochre, your bone white and your sandy brown, knowing not that as they sing your glorious praises, you simultaneously invade their internal caverns, conquering new foreign territories yet, ever-vigilant Sand!

So, why then not my living room, too?

Sand, you are Victorious.

Have your way with my home...do as you will! The Pledge-soaked, lemon-scented, white dust cloth that was once used to repel you from surfaces is now a limp flag of surrender. Don’t you see it wave, Sand?

To you, I concede, Sand.

Today, I surrender. I lay down my weapons, my mop, broom and all. I stand up, straighten my back and raise my eyes to the sky to remind myself that this glorious blue is one expanse you have yet to broach. Oh yes, Sand, you too have limitations! But today, khalas…it is finished. I have no fight left for you, Sand. Today, you have rendered this foe utterly defeated.

I think I’ll just go take a nap.

And yet, more Sand...



Haiku – Of or pertaining to Sand





Sand, blanketing all,
lying as a gritty cloak
upon sofa backs.



Sand insidious,
creeping into crevices,
insistent to be.



Gritty, grainy, grit
wind-swept, whipped wild thru windows
wields war in its wake.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some words about LOVE.


From Facebook:


hey, i'm lookin for some love and I cant find it, but i think i left some on your page, have you seen it?


Ayanna Abdul-Mateen I have seen it. LOVE is in my pocket; I keep it there. I never know throughout my day when I'll need it so I travel with LOVE everyday, everywhere. You need some? That's the good thing about LOVE, you see, it's like ENERGY...LOVE is always there, it never diminishes. It is only transferred into different states like happiness, joy, excitement, sometimes even sadness, but it's all still LOVE. You can take as much LOVE as you need because like ENERGY, I know there will always be enough LOVE for me too. LOVE at you. ♥

Rahma - Mercy

I am in awe of the infinity of MERCY.
Life happens everyday and  
MERCY is infinitely present in every second of it. 
Of this, I am in awe.


For this is good news;
we are spared from so much, big and small, 
and most often 
from 
our own selves. 


MERCY. 


LOVE to you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today, Yesterday & Tomorrow...


I haven't blogged in months.

Have you ever avoided something or someone and you really didn't have a reason but then the time gets so long between you that the guilt, regret, loss and shame become the reasons, become the problems between you? It's kind of like that with this blog. I know I should have been writing, but after so long...I just didn't know how to come back.

I have often told myself that TODAY I will write; a vain declaration more times than not. Well, today, finally, I am writing...


My colleague's husband died yesterday.

It was about 2:00 pm and my colleague Eman and I were walking together across the school courtyard to a staff meeting. It's getting hot again in the UAE and by late afternoon, the sun is blazing and I remember thinking how good it felt on my skin yesterday. The day had been a good one. Eman and I had co-taught two of her 11th grade English classes for the first time because along with my 12th grade English girls, they were scheduled to present a short skit the next morning during assembly. We had enjoyed teaching the classes and also enjoyed each other's company and camaraderie; teaching can be an isolating experience, especially so when you are teaching halfway around the world. Although I had initially resisted the collaboration (as I tend to do...), it turned out to be a welcomed and enriching experience. I was excited about working with another teacher, about getting a glimpse of what instruction looks like in other's classrooms and about working with the girls who will soon be my 12th grade students. As we rehearsed the skit, Eman and I shared ideas, made changes to the plan as necessary, laughed with and chided the girls about their lines and enthusiasm (or lack thereof...). We spent a good time during those two class periods.

Little did we know that during this very time, Eman's husband was being rushed to the hospital. Less than 30 minutes after class, we learned that he did not arrive to the hospital alive.

My colleague's husband died yesterday. He had a heart attack.

Eman is Syrian; she is Christian. She and her husband have lived in the UAE for nearly 20 years. Their children, four boys, were all born and raised in this country, which has become their home. Tomorrow, Eman will travel back to Syria to return her husband's remains to their homeland. Tonight, she is on my mind. I carry her in my spirit and I pray for her, her children, and her husband's soul, 'Inna lillahi wa ina Allahi rajiuun.' From Allah we come and unto Him is our return. May Allah (swt) grant ease and peace upon this family. Ameen

Even in death, there is much to be grateful for and to remember:

I am grateful for the second that I recall feeling my spirit soften as I tried to avoid this project with Eman but instead, gave in. Sometimes our greatest obstacle towards goodness is our own soul.


I am grateful to have been with this sister, working, sharing, laughing at the moment that her life was forever changed.

I am grateful for the long moment today when, at Eman's home, we hugged and she released the most tortured sigh I have heard from a woman; she held onto me and cried.

I am grateful for LIFE.
I am grateful for LOVE.
I am grateful for ANGELS.
I am grateful for SIGNS.
I am grateful for MERCY.

I write today because my heart is heavy. I write today because I remember that Allah is Most Merciful and Most Forgiving, and thus, so should we be, especially with our own selves, insha'Allah.

LOVE.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding My Normal in the UAE


Today is November 14, 2010. I am sitting at my dining room table in my flat in Liwa, Abu Dhabi. At this moment, “Stuck on You” by Lionel Ritchie is just going off; it is followed by “Home” by Stephanie Mills on my ITunes playlist.

In the kitchen, across the front room, and just to the left, I am making spring rolls. I just filled my first batch with cabbage, onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and shrimp, and they are browning in the pan right now. I have not made these before, but they smell mighty good!

*Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” is now playing...

The windows in this room are open. Rays of sunlight enter, along with the ever-present wisps of sand, carried in by the wind, which outside, keeps the red, green, black, and white UAE flags perched atop every lamp post in view, whipping and flapping, celebrating this country, the United Arab Emirates.

*Groove Theory's, “Baby Love” is on now. I'm bopping and snapping my fingers...

I have been moved into this space for about three weeks now, and I am getting more and more comfortable. I keep using this term “normal”; I am finding my normal here in the UAE:

-Normal like: Running ten minutes late in the morning going to school because....well, just because! I am notorious for being late; everyone who knows me knows this, and they accept it (although often with a grimace...) because when I do show up, I deliver. In a culture that is less concerned with time, except as it relates to prayer and appointments for tea, I am right at home.

- Normal like: Driving and yelling at other drivers (to myself), typically because I am LATE, as previously mentioned. The primary road rule here in the UAE is, when you catch a glimpse of a large, shiny, white SUV barreling down the road behind you at about 100 miles/hr., flashing their lights madly...MOVE TO YOUR RIGHT. It seems that EVERY young Emirati male has such a vehicle, and it also has become abundantly clear that the fast left lane should be reserved exclusively for them. I concede...and just yell at them...to myself!

- Normal like: Beginning to understand conversations in Arabic while out and about in my day. As I pick up words and phrases, and develop an ear to decipher the spoken language, it seems that slowly, surely, I am cracking the code. I am beginning to have some sense of topics being discussed, directions being given, questions being asked, and can even offer brief dialogue myself. It’s a good feeling.

- Normal like: Cleaning up and doing laundry on Saturday mornings. Even though Saturday is the second day of the weekend here, the equivalent to Sunday in the States, there still is something normal, something familiar about this routine.

- Normal like: Finding new foods and developing new tastes that make me feel at home. I have fallen for some great new foods and flavors here in the UAE, including:

-Rose water: I add a splash to fruit juices, smoothies and sometimes soda. It gives a wonderful aromatic experience to whatever I am enjoying.

-Zaatar: This is a spice mix of mainly thyme, sesame, and a little oregano and marjoram. It is found in various combinations throughout the Middle East, but I particularly like the Jordanian recipe of zaatar. Here is how you eat it: take a piece of pita bread, dip it in olive oil, then the zaatar, and pop it in your mouth with an olive....mmmmm!

-Labanah: This is something like sour yoghurt, which is essentially...sour cream. Yes, I have the nerve to be over here eating the equivalent of sour cream like it’s not a FULL FAT food! But let me tell you, you can get lababah with zaatar mixed in, and I’m sayin’....this is SO good.

-Fruit Juices: I have had freshly prepared juices and smoothies of wonderfully sweet fruits, including mango, pear, kiwi, dates, watermelon, litchi (an amazingly curious looking fruit) and guava. This is quite a treat!

-Cumin infused Gouda: I love cumin. I love cheese. That is all.

* Chrisette Michelle is crooning ”Best of Me”...

I am finding my normal:

-like breathing a deep sigh of release when I pull into the parking lot of my building at the end of a school day because I am home.

-like sitting in my car, as I always did in the States, for a few quiet minutes before coming in the house; car off, speakers still, feeling the heat, or the cold, listening to the silence, and having a moment of calm reflection, as I transition from my work day to being home again.

-like folding up in my corner of the couch and drinking my special chai mix.

-like leaving my prayer rug down. No need to fold it up...I’ll soon be back, alhumdulillah.

*Maxwell just finished his melodic falsetto in “This Woman’s Work”...

*Janet is now singing about “How Time Flies When You’re Having Fun”...

My spring rolls, though flavorful and a ginger-spicy, are a little oilier than I would like. I’ll have to try this recipe again, when I make myself a meal on another normal Saturday afternoon, insha’Allah

Tamia is closing me out...”You put a Move on My Heart”...

Peace & LOVE.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Universal Conspiracy



“Intent is a force that exists in the Universe. When sorcerers (those who live of the Source) beckon intent, it comes to them and sets up the path for attainment, which means that those who live of the Source always accomplish what they set out to do.”
-Carols Castenada,
from The Power of Intention, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.”
-Paulo Coehlo, Introduction to The Alchemist

As I sat down to write this entry, I remembered these quotations I wanted to include and went to fish these two texts from by everyday school bag. You know, that big red, leather bag with the animal print pocket on the front…I carry it daily, as it holds my treasures; my books, my lesson plans, a journal, my laptop, my camera…water. When I find myself waiting with a few minutes on my hands, I thumb through The Power of Intention or The Alchemist, reading and re-reading, revisiting ideas and concepts in one, characters, settings, and themes in the other. Both, somehow, tell a similar story; both bear witness to the force of Energy, within and of the Universe, which moves and conspires on our behalf, if we only believe and invoke its power.


Energy is powerful. It just is. It is ever-present, ever transforming from one state or body of matter to another; it is ever in a state of flux. As we, ourselves, exist as energy forms, we too are subject to the constant mutability that is its primary characteristic. We must be careful about the forms of energy with which we allow ourselves to come in contact, lest we get swept into a negative downward cycle…


This week I had an enlightening experience, which at once, brought me to a low point in my time here, but then was immediately followed by a moment of clarity, remembrance, and intent. I attended a meeting this week of LTs (Licensed Teachers) here in Liwa Oasis. The meeting was conducted by Heidi, our Al-Gharbia, Western Region ADEC representative, and was scheduled to field questions and concerns regarding permanent housing placements, passports and Visa processing, healthcare cards, payroll schedules, and other such pertinent issues. All of these issues are contractual for LTs, and most questions and concerns regarding them were valid. However, when you put thirty-six teachers together in one room, after a long day of teaching…in the middle of a desert…things can get a little HOT. Even I succumbed to this heated energy…


Being placed in the desert presents it’s own particular set of challenges as it relates to getting certain administrative tasks completed. Tasks which are necessary to establish our residency here in Abu Dhabi, such as securing driver’s licenses, document interpretation, etc, must be handled in Abu Dhabi, which is an hour and a half drive from Liwa…in light traffic. During this meeting, many LTs expressed their frustration with the difficulty in getting these important tasks completed after school, and with ADEC’s seeming lack of accommodation for the complications borne of our particular placement, as well as other issues (some valid…others, not so much). I, too, expressed some frustrations, although prior to the meeting, I hadn’t had these concerns at all. I could feel myself giving into the negative energy the longer I sat amongst my colleagues, so I decided to leave a bit early, along with a few other teachers.


My friends, Bayyinnah, Samaiyah, Stanford, and I went across the hotel lobby to have dinner and to unwind. During our meal, I experienced my moment of clarity, of remembrance, of intention. Through our discussion, I was reminded that there is something special and purposeful about being in the desert. Being here, in this place, has value beyond any contractual compensation that is due me, and before I allow myself to be moved or distracted by negative energy, I need to get myself outside, to stand in the hot sand, and to feel the Sun kiss my face. I need to look upon these ever-changing majestic dunes, and marvel at the beautiful camels as they move with their awkward elegance across this ancient terrain. Before I give in to anger or frustration, I need to listen for the Adhan, the call to prayer that is carried on the wind from every direction in this desert, then find my way to my prayer rug. I ask myself: Where else could I experience such peace, such quiet, such stillness? Where else could my thoughts wander in search of the words to express all the ideas that mingle in my mind? Where else could I feel the mercy of Allah (swt) in the way that I do, EACH and EVERY day that I am here? Truly, I am grateful and humbled to be in this place.


I am certain that all things will work out, as they should. As of this weekend, I’ve been paid, received my furniture allowance, my passport with my UAE Resident Visa, my healthcare card, bankcard and checkbook. These are just the tangible gains that I can measure, however, I believe there is so much more that awaits me here, in this place.
It appears the Universe is conspiring in my favor.


Allahu Akbar.