Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Friday, November 30, 2007

You know you're married to an Egyptian when...

A cute list I found on UmmLayla's blog that I had to steal.

You know your husband is Egyptian when...

he insists that if you don't wear slippers in the house you will catch cold.

you find yourself cooking fatah and stuffed grape leaves when you are happy with him.

you can't tell if he's yelling because he's mad or just yelling when he's talking to his family on the phone. (omg SO true)

you think "insha'Allah" means "if I can."

the biggest threat he makes to the kids is "the slipper". (or well actually its usually me threatening him.)

he has stories of his own parents and "the slipper".

every story from his youth involves someone named Mohammad.

he never eats fish when he has a cold.

he drinks tea upon waking, when getting ready, when working... Well, he just drinks lots of tea.

your closet contains a box of things from Egypt to use when you need a last minute gift for someone.

you have at least one cartouche in your jewelry collection.

he has a great sense of humor.

everyone says "I have always wanted to go there!" when you tell them where he is from.

he gets steamed up when all the American depictions of Egypt are the guys in Giza or upper Egypt wearing jilbab.

he never says Alexandria, always Alex.

you wear hegab in the masgid... not hijab in the masjid.

it isn't a meal if you don't offer your guest as much food and variety as the average American gets in a week.

almost everything you cook has cumin, coriander, onions, garlic, and bell pepper.

you have mastered the art of filo dough.

not only do you buy eggplant, you make more than one dish with it.

you know who Amr Diab is, and you actually have at least one CD.

you are truly loved by a man with a heart as big as the ocean;) (thats the truth)

I love my husband so much.

The Weather Outside is Frightful....

I got up this morning and the drive into work was horrid. Traffic wasn't bad at all (I am lucky enough to have the best commute of everyone I know), but it was that it was so cold the gear shift was frozen and getting my car through the gears was my daily upper body workout. The clutch was also abnormally stiff, so I worked out my left leg. And this was all after I sat shivering in my car for 10 minutes while it "warmed up".

I'm dreaming of Arizona and the lovely December weather of mid 70's. If it weren't for my mom and the absurdly low amount of rent she asks for, I'd ask my husband to move us back down there. But economically and socially things are much better here. You would think that Phoenix, being the booming metropolis of sophistication that it is, would be much more open to cultures and religions. But it is in fact the exact opposite. Phoenix is the playground of the rich, white, golf-playing republican and conservatism runs rampant. You would instead think that Minnesota, being the recently growing but still backwater community that it is, would be closed to outsiders but it is not.

I think this is entirely due to the baptism by fire the Twin Cities endured with the Somali influx in the mid to late 90's. During this time the Muslim population went from what I am assuming has to have been a relatively small community of at most around 5,000 people, to an extremely large, Somali dominated, population of nearly 300,000 Muslims. Minnesotans had no choice but to become immune to the sight of women in long hijab and the idea that Muslims exist, are perfectly friendly, and cause no harm. A dash of this and a dash of that, and what do you get? A community in which women wearing hijab can actually get a job. Imagine that. In Phoenix it was impossible, I even had one interviewer look at me and ask, "Do you have to wear that costume?"

We'll be the last ones laughing though. As I left Phoenix there was a very large migration of Minnesota-plated cars entering the town driven by, you guessed it, Somalis. Knowing their tendency to move whole communities together, I'm guessing Phoenix will soon be going through their own baptism by fire. I'm eager to see the outcome.

And for now I guess I'll keep shivering in my car each morning.
I hate winter.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Derrrr, my name IS prominently displayed all over this page. There goes my super cool spy theme. Oh well. Yes I know I could change it and not have my name appear but I guess I prefer not to be anonymous. Its no fun that way anyways.

How do you do? My name is...

Well I guess I'll probably not use my real name. Yay for anonymity via the internet, although I'm slathered all over it in a million other ways. In fact, my real name may actually pop up somewhere all over this blog without my knowing it will. For now I will delude myself into thinking I can act spy-like.

I've been reading some other blogs by Muslimahs, namely converts married to Arabs/North Africans (of which demographic I fit squarely into) and I got bit by the blogging bug. We'll see how well this goes.

Part of the reason I felt the need to make a blog is, well, I have issues. Don't we all? Or well, I guess issues wouldn't be the right word, more like daily frustrations. And I'd like someplace to hash out some of the ideas I have in my head for making lemonade outta them lemons. Know what I mean?

Here's my main issue. I'm a convert. Only other converts know exactly how difficult it is to be a convert. I came out of the closet to my family this summer (and yes it IS coming out the closet just without the haraam homo-sexuality thing), and I also got married this summer. To be sure it went like this: went to Egypt- got married- how will I explain that to the family? better just tell them- "hi gramma I'm home from Egypt and by the way I'm Muslim.. oh and I got married too."

My mom and dad knew about the Muslim thing long before the rest of the family, mom I told 6 months after I converted, dad got it about 22 months after I converted, and the rest of the family got it sprung on them 4 months or so ago or about 29 months after I converted. My gramma is convinced that if she had known about it from the beginning she could have "saved" me. Which both tickles and annoys me to no end.
My other issue is that I am thoroughly multicultural. Before I was Muslim I was Mexican, and before I was Mexican I was actually white. In fact my skin still energetically protests that I am white although my "insides" have long since turned a nice shade of brown. I spent the later part of my growing up among Mexicans within whom I learned to speak spanish like a native, cook frijoles, dance rancheros, and swear like an erstwhile sailor (in spanish). In fact who I am as a person is broken up something like this:
2/5 Muslim
2/5 Mexican
1/5 White Minnesotan (which is definately its own brand of white)

I no longer struggle with my identity, alhumdulillah, what I struggle with is how other people struggle with my identity. I work in a Family Practice Clinic in a very Mexican part of the Twin Cities, and let paint for you, if you please, a picture of my normal day at work. Me at the front desk, very white, very hijabbed. Weary oldest son approches to translate for his non-english speaking mother. I speak to her directly in Spanish. Shocked silence while they double check the tint of my melanoma and the large piece of cloth wrapped around my head. Pretty much the same scenario each day. Although I do have to tell you that, surprisingly to me knowing how racist Mexicans really can be, most of them love me or are at least very courteous. I think its mostly because there is finally someone who speaks Spanish for them and they are grateful. Either way its a huge weight off my shoulders.

I'm considering becoming an interpreter and this is why its so important to me. I won't be a successful interpreter if no one wants me to interpret for them. I'm hoping my sunny smile and cheerful disposition can get me in, and if the reception I have received so far is any indication of the future, I think it just might be ok.
And hey, if I can be the specimen of probably the wierdest mishmash of multicultural human to come along in years, well the least I can do is be a good example of a Muslim while completely confusing everyone around me.

Its my job I guess. Just wait till Habibi teaches me to speak Arabic. Ooooooooh the anticipation.