Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gaza on my mind, but no news watching for me

I'm going through what I'll call a personal challenge in life right now. In order to get through this personal challenge without further complication I'm not going to be socializing for the next week except with those that will be helping me. I'm going to minimize phone conversations and postpone errands.

Furthermore, I'm not going to watch the news or read reports. I'll continue to make duaa with every salat and to forward information on charity drives and protests to my sister and good friend in Jordan. I'll send my brief and heartfelt emails and messages to those I know with family in Gaza, but I have to stay focused on the task at hand. I consider this a sacrifice that I have to make since I would so much rather be an activist right now; I just can't.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I don't want to raise kids in a world like this

In a world where people become desensitized to headlines reporting massive casualties

In a world where a massacre can take place in the name of defeating global terrorism

In a world where the vice president nominee of the free world states "We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself."

In a world where civilians of one country, of one ethnicity, hold much more value than those of another

In a world where powerful men play with F-16s

Friday, December 26, 2008

what to say to a recent divorcee

I can let my friends know I'm there for them during times of mundane stresses, minor annoyances, and illnesses; however, I'm not really good at reaching out to people when they're going through major personal crises.

A friend who I've referred to as "Mandy" the workaholic in my old diary got married and separated in a matter of months. She's now in the process of obtaining a legal divorce. There was a time when me and her were pretty close. During my 3 months in chicago she got engaged and had a celebration without letting me know, I found out when I saw the pictures on facebook so I was upset and didn't even bother calling her to congratulate. I eventually got over it and sent her a facebook message letting her know that I was happy for her. While I was away in Jordan she got married and moved to a different state and I never spoke to her.

I was shocked recently when my good friend Suzy (old diary reference) told me Mandy moved back with her family a few weeks ago and is getting a divorce. I felt bad as I thought about what she must be going through. I wanted to do something to show her I'm here if she needs me but I had no clue what or how to go about it; so I just let it be while my conscious gnawed at me for being a lazy friend. Suzy on the other hand had no problem calling her up to confirm that the rumor was true and even asking her details about what happened. I could never ask for such details if the info wasn't volunteered to me, I'd feel like it was non of my business and that I'd come off as a gossiper, which is something Suzy is sometimes accused of. I have in fact gotten all my info from Suzy.

Suzy is having a small BBQ tomorrow in honor of my homecoming and Mandy will be there. It's weird to admit but I'm getting anxious about seeing her. I can't just pretend that we didn't used to be good friends and then stopped talking to each other and that she's not going through a shocking divoce (after like 4 months of marriage)......although that's really what I'd prefer to do.

I wouldn't even know where to start. "Hey nice to see you after so long oh and what are you doing home didn't you just get married?"

I can't play the dumb card, how fake is that!

"Hey are you feeling ok I heard about what happened and I'm soooo sorry"

How do I know that won't bother her? Maybe she doesn't wanto be reminded. Maybe she just wants to enjoy herself with the girls today..something that she probably hasn't done in a while.

"Hey you know I'm always here for you"

considering I haven't spoken to her long before she was married that would be a bullshit statement. I should probably have a talk to with Suzy beforehand.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Setups behind bullying of Muslims

There has been a recent rash of bullying of Arab business owners as well as influential heads in the Muslim community by the legal system of our country. It's random, it's unpredictable, and it's far from just. Such stories were always rampant in places like Chicago and cities in Florida and Texas in the post 9-11 world.

Recently a very close family friend and a family well known in the Islamic community was paid a visit by government representatives. The timing and nature of this visit was such that it meant to intimidate and instill fear and panic. I don't want to go into details, but the whole ordeal and aftermath have been quite disturbing and have left people distrustful and nervous. This single incident is one of the most unfortunate events in my community I can remember during my time here that doesn't involve murder or other tragic death. It's definitely been the talk of the town, in a concerned and angry kind of way. Out of respect, folks cancelled their Eid parties and put their 3azayim on hold.

In the following couple of days an expensive lawyer was hired. One thing that has been learned and is the reason for the thick unease in the air is that this was the work of insiders. The family was set up by associates....other Muslims in the community and likely people from our very circle.

How could anyone be so........................I don't even have the right word in my vocabulary. There are lots of possible motives, but I still can't think of anything good enough to cause one to stoop to such lows. If you were in trouble whether justified or not, would you be willing to play the legal system's game and bring others down for some kind of pardon? Is that pure selfish callousness or simply desperation? I would say the former. Could a bitter disagreement lead someone to want to bring about the most crippling of revenges?

These weren't people that made enemies, they're rather simple and humble folks. I think in times like these it's important that people be well aware of their legal rights. The government gets away with creating scapegoats and random singling out folks to pick on because they count on people being ignorant and scared. So knowledge is truly power!

'twas the night before Christmas

when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse...

There's so much I love about Christmas time like fresh baked bread and cookies our generous neighbors give us, and the 24 hour TBS marathon of one of my favorite movies A Christmas Story!
To all who Celebrate: Merry Christmas Yall

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can I say I went to Israel?

So my sister in Jordan made friends with this girl, a Palestinian with Israeli identification who resides within the legal borders of Israel. For some reason this girl refers to herself as Israeli; if you ask her where she's from she'll say Israel. I'm not sure why a Palestinian Arab would advertise herself as an Israeli ESPECIALLY amongst a population of Arabs. I would be lying if I said this didn't irritate me personally but I'll try to hold my judgement. Maybe it's something about Arab Israelis that I don't understand.

It reminds me of once years and years back I was with my aunt and we bumped into an Arab man who answered he was "min 3arab Israel" when my aunt asked him where he was from. At his response my aunt became very upset, later it looked like she was about to start crying. Clearly the name you give to the territory is a sensitive issue.

So my naive and hyperactive sister doesn't know better than to use the words of her new good friend. She told me before about her new friend with a very Arab name "from Israel" which she attempts to pronounce in a Hebrew accent like her friend does. I just bite my tongue and remind myself of my young sister's innocence.

Recently my sister got permission and made plans to go to Israel with her new friend to visit her family for a few days. She was excited and told everyone; she even had a series of facebook statuses announcing her visit to "Israel". All this really pissed some people off in our circle who may or may have not said anything to her. Even my Jordanian family in the village, who are not exactly the biggest Palestinian sympathesizers, were offended by my sister's choice of words. My villager cousin stated "ukhtik mfrakra 7alha ray7a 3a Isra-il" in a mocking tone during our last phone conversation. When people asked me what's up with my sister I defended her but didn't dismiss concern by explaining that she's young and jahla and just quoting her new friend.

Until now I refrained myself from lecturing her about anything because she's a paranoid 19 year old who thinks I oppose her very existence and doesn't take very much of what I say as anything more than personal criticism. I was hoping by now someone who would have explained things to my sister to make her be a little more sensitive or careful, but following her trip she uploaded an album of her trip titled "Israel" with nothing starkingly Israeli in's just people (arabs) and some land.

I decided to bring it up..."so how was your trip? from the pics it looks like you had fun.....oh and why did you call your album "Israel" on facebook by the way?"........ "What? What should I call it? What is it that you're so offended about???" So by her response it seems that she has been scolded already but not to the point where she actually got it. I just explained to her that most of the people she hangs out with and those on her facebook are in fact arabs and some will feel antagonized by the labels you're using for A, B, and C reason so why would you want to do that anyway? I managed to convince her to change the album title without an argument.

but this got me thinking did she do anything wrong? What if one day I visited a friend residing in an Israeli town, what would I call my facebook album? Would I confidently say I visited Israel or would I struggle with the right terms. Would it because I didn' tkow what to think of it or just because I wouldn't want to antagonize anyone?

SoCal in December: A Photo Post

I'm back in my parents house now, it's been months since I've seen them! I'm sorting through the massive amount of photos from my 12 day stay in Southern California with family to find post-worthy one for your visual enjoyment. Here's what I got:

Like I said, LA has its artsy side too

In the UCLA area, horrible service but pretty cool environment (as are most university-area hookah cafes).

Of course you gotta do the Universal Studios thing, can you guess what classic movie this reenacted scene comes from?


More Universal Studios stuff. It was so cold that that was my favorite moment!

These people were actually selling hot chocolate and churros in front of their house, I guess they really needed some help paying that electricity bill

Some times this is all I need for a good time

Used record stores are always fun stops

The mysterious abandoned parking garage level with nothing but Range Rovers. It was unexplainable and kinda creepy

Sneaking a picture at the no-photography-allowed Hollywood Museum.

Frozen yogurt kicks ice cream's butt any day. Socal has quite a few local establishments including Pinkberry with unique flavors (pomegranate) and every kind of fresh fruit topping. I also discovered this thing called Moshi (sp?) which is a floury white gummy cube that reminded me of an arabic desert.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family conversations on booty shaking, adolescent boys, and snoring monsters

Conversation 1 at the mall
Cousin: (to baby cousin) yalla shake your booty
Aunt#1: wakto il booty? halla mish wakto il booty
Aunt#2: ya3ni lazim bil engleezi 3ashan nit'akad inno kul il nas fihmat
Cousin: booty booty booty booty rockin everywhere, booty booty booty booty rockin everywhere

Conversation 2 at the guest bedroom 6 of us sleep in
Baby Cousin: Mommy there's a monster
Aunt#2: no that's not a monster that's just aunty snoring
Baby Cousin: Mommy whose blowing their nose
Aunt#2: Noone's blowing their nose that's just aunty snoring
Baby Cousin: Mommy whose keeps saying 'whose there'
Aunt#2: Noone is saying anything anything, that's just aunty snoring

Friend: mish inti darasti fee amreeka, kan 3indik boyfriend bil jam3a?
Aunt#2 la bakayt mitzawja, zay il habla

Calling mom from airport
Me: Ok don't scream, but I just missed my flight. so I'm coming home Monday
Mom: ok. oo dalik miss flights tool 7ayatik. On Monday make sure to go to the aiport 30 minutes after your flight leaves zay ma dayman bti3mili. And make sure titfa3i another 100 dollars fee like you always do. Tayib? ooo kaman it'akadi all your luggage is overweight.

Aunts comparing adolescent sons
Aunt#2: Besides being annoying my son is really weird. Unlike my 17 yrd old daughter he has no social skills. He's 15 and a half and he's not even into girls
Me: How do you know he's not into girls?
Aunt#2: Because he doesn't spend hours locked up in the bathroom..hahahahaha (laughs at herself)
Me: Who are his friends
Aunt#2: In s3oodia (KSA) he has a couple of close friends that are all like him. All they do is play video games and they're all smelly. I'll know he's interested in girls when he starts wearing deoderant. At that point me and hubby we'll proceed to block msn and aim from the house.

Los Angeles Famous Restaurants: Ketchup

Ketchup is another restaurant owned by the Ashton Kutcher and gang group (AKA the Dolce group). This one sits on Sunset BLVD in West LA. If you regularly watch The Hills you may have seen LC dining here. This place has a more fun, casual feel with a totally Hollywood-themed menu. I stole the below picture from; the rest are mine.

I was most excited to have dinner at Ketchup for what their famous for: the appetizer known as the 3 some. It's 3 different types of fries-spicy cajun, sweet potato, and thick cut, with 5 different types of ketchup dips-mango, maple, ranch, chipotle, and classic. They should seriously consider bottling up those ketchups and selling them; I would totally buy at least the maple and the ranch.

My cousin got the Shake N Bake: a pistachio-crusted chicken in a rasbery-dijon sauce. The best thing about the dish was the pistachio covering and the sauce, so I liked to just chip off the pistachio crust and stir it in the sauce to eat over the actual chicken.

I was disappointed that they didn't have what I really wanted, The Wharf which is a Chilean sea bass dish; So I settled for the grilled mahi mahi. The food was good but in all honestly doesn't compare to the black cod from The Geisha House.

Dinner at Ketchup was a good experience. I would definitely go back but I think we would order a few appetizers/soups/salads over any entrees. The 3 some was very satisfying and they had a lot of cool sounding stuff on the menu like the parmesan-garlic ring tower and scandalous lobster wraps.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Los Angeles Famous Restaurants: Geisha House

Dinner at the Geisha House may probably be the best restaurant dinner experience ever as far as my memory serves me! This is another one co-owned by Ashton Kutcher and gang that sits on Hollywood BLVD. It's a Japanese themed establishment that looks a bit sketchy on the outside.

This time there were three of us and once we were all we were seated right away on a 7:30 Tuesday. There was much more of a crowd than Dolce the day before. We immediately noticed how cool the place looked and wondering if the big and loud Arab-looking family next to us was really Arab or not. There were 2 floors and some more exclusive seating rooms on the first floor.

The servers and staff in general were really great and totally on top of their game. There was always someone available within sight and our server made some great suggestions for us. The sushi we ordered to start with was definitely the best sushi I've ever had. My favorite was a spicy tuna topped with avocado, grape tomato, and serrano pepper they call the red samurai.

I ordered a beef udon noodle dish that came out first; the beef was really tender and flavorful. However I just couldn't figure out how to eat noodles with those large Asian soup spoons.

However the best thing that came out on the table that night was my cousin's black cod. We always share our food, but the 3 of us couldn't keep our chopsticks out of her plate. I'm telling you people, fish is just not meant to taste this good! It literally melted in our mouths and left a lasting tangy yet spicy flavor.

We were planning on doing desert somewhere else, but the food was so good that we couldn't leave without trying the deserts. I was rather disappointed that they didn't have a specialty coffee menu like they did the teas. After too many oohs and aahhs we settled on the fruit-filled wontons and the fried banana tempura.

Desert was really good but not as great as the food was, in fact we've had better banana tempura. I think the wontons would be amazing if they stuffed them with more fruit and cream. The dipping sauce was a bit too sweet for me especially because the wontons already tasted sweet.

One thing I loved about this place and is probably why we had such a great experience is the atmosphere; we were having so much fun! They had a great DJ there that played jams like Galvanize by the Chemical Brothers and Tom's Diner by Suzanne Vega. The music wasn't too loud that you couldn't hear people talking to you but loud enough to make you feel like breaking down. At one point he played a remix of some old school Backstreet Boys and we got a good laugh when we realized everyone, including the Arab family, was enthusiastically singing along. We took pictures galore in and out of that place!

The food was all on the light side so we weren't overly stuffed, just comfortably full. Our bill was less than $140 which we all agreed was well worth the money especially considering all the stuff we ordered. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area make sure dining at the Geisha House is on your list of things to do!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Los Angeles Famous Restaurants: Dolce

I'm spending a few days in Los Angeles where my cousin has her own place since she works here. Before coming I didn't think there was too much of a culture beyond the one that revolves around the superficial Hollywood entertainment industry. I was wrong, it's actually quite the artsy city with it's own unique culture aside from what it's famous for.

ANYWAY, my pre-made plans involved not too much more than that walk of fame and, of ocurse, dining at celebrity restaurants! Our first stop was Dolce, a trendy Italian joint on Melrose founded by members of the cast of That 70s Show including Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderama. It also stands as the #1 restaurant in Los Angeles on .

So it's at this point this review will turn amateur since long formal detailed reviews are not my thing. My point is to communicate to you "good" or "bad" and to give you something to think about next time you're around the Los Angeles area.

At 7:30 PM on a Monday the place was relatively empty. We were seated immediately and everyone who worked there was hot and trendy yet super friendly. So yes the service was excellent! There was always a server lingering not too far from our table to the point where it got a bit awkward, but always there when you need them. Our drinks were like instantly refilled when half empty.

The decor was cute....lots of candles and fires. It was very dimly lit inside so that you couldn't see peole from a distance except if they happened to be wearing fully sequined tops like the hostess. Also the place was on the small side so you could easily find yourself sitting a little too close to strangers.

We were informed that on Mondays the food is half off the menu!!! So try to go there on a Monday if you're broke. We ordered a shrimp, calamari, zucchini appetizer that was out in less than 10 minutes. I went with the lobster dinner and my cousin a scallop dish. Everything was pretty good, not excellent but pretty good.

So there were no Ashton Kutcher sightings but it Dolce was well worth the money we paid. Our bill in total was less than $65. Stay tuned to hear about what was probably the best restaurant experience I've ever had!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The following is NOT a healthy food item

a) Granola Bars. As well as most breakfast bars.

b) Things that say "fat free" on them. The regular item in moderation is probably better for you than the fat free version with all that fake stuff in it.

c) Fruit juices. Even if it says made with real fruit.

d) Diet Sodas

e) Fig Newtons

f) Falafel

G) Mansaf

H) Ranch and Caesar salad dressing

I) Baked Potato

What you eat is your business, but don't claim to be "healthy" around me if this is what you consider healthy food. Especially if I gained a couple pounds while staying at your house; it'll really annoy me. Just because it's not fried and it's not a desert, it doesn't mean it's healthy. I need to give my aunt a kitchen makeover.

Freezing my butt in california

Happy Break and Happy Holidays (belated if you're Muslim) everyone for those that are on break. If you're still roughing it then hang in there.

For asoom standards it looks like I've been on a blog hiatus. I have a lot of on my mind but can't find it in me to dispense brain energy on blogging since I'm now preparing to take a makeup exam when I get back (actually 2). When I'm not doing that I'm seeing to family obligations. I like sitting around the breakfast table with coffee and muffins for hours with 2 of my hilarious aunts and animated cousins, but I haven't been too thrilled about all the touristy outings and redundant shopping. I'm just not in the relaxed enough mood to be able to feel like it's any more than a waste of time for me.

Have a good one yall!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I was warned about this, but not prepared

Tomorrow at 9AM I have my NINTH and last final. It's 11PM and I don't know jack, but I don't care. I've had it, I'm done! I did well on most of them, I bombed 2.

I've given up my last 3 weekends, I've given up sleep, I've given up a Jason Mraz concert (I'm still crying over that), I've given up Eid, I've given up an invitation from hot jordanian guy. I've also been quite the needy crybaby, I scroll down my phonebook and find people to call and cry to. The last classmate I vented to got on my nerves when she said "hey these are just the sacrifices that we have to make". No, I can't that easily accept that I have to sacrifice life 90% of the time.

In other major news, I'm seriously considering taking time off of school for a semester for a number of reasons I probably won't get into on this blog. I just need some time before I get back into this.

Tomorrow evening I'll be in Southern California. I'm not even excited. I'm not in the mood to be thrown into a family reunion situation and have to be around so many people that I haven't seen in a while all at once. I need to recover first. I just want to lock myself away from the world for a few days to sleep, workout, watch Scrubs reruns, read, and sleep.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Hijab Tan

My trainer decided to take the workout outdoors today in light of the nice weather. I wish I knew beforehand so I could have been better prepared for pilates in the bright sun and brought a bottle or 2 of sunblock....and some oversized sunglasses.

I like being tan, I think it look it better on me...I think a little bit of color looks better on everyone in general; however, what I really don't like is my Hijab tan. This is a chronic problem that many hijabi girls suffer from which means that the front part of your face, hands, and feet are about 5 shades (in my case 10) darker than the rest of you.

When my first cousin to get married decided to have a gender segregated ceremony a couple years ago I wanted to take full advantage of not being covered at the party. So I decided the most effective thing to do about my hijab tan is tan the rest of me to reach tanning equilibrium. I signed up with a tanning salon where I would sit in a tanning bed with hands feet and face covered. After 2 sessions I gave up on that previously genious idea because I realized the difference was very subtle each time. I would need like 20 tans at least to get to the goal while increasing my risk of skin cancer exponentially.

I had it under control for a while but then Egypt this summer brought it back full force. So unless I decide to move to Alaska-it's a lose-lose situation.

So how do you deal with your hijab tan?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sitting in the library with an uncharged ipod sucks

I was on emotional roller coaster the last 2 weeks and anticipate staying on the ride for like another week.

A few highs

Lots of lows

Fights with people that love me the most

Friendships strengthened

Illnesses........hookah exacerbated

Roomate got engaged officially. Bought my first Indian outfit

Makeup exams and late assignments

Crying in the dean's office AGAIN

A boy likes me

I like a different boy

He........................( ? )

5 Finals Down

4 More to go

Southern California here I come!