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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 😛

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! 😛
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.

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.

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.

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 😛 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.

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.