24 May 2013

Far from Mecca

It is my considered opinion that most Americans really just don't understand Islam. And why should they? In terms of sheer numbers, Islam isn't a major religious or cultural force in the United States. Lack of contact with Muslims and mixed messages about Islam in the media contribute to most people having a vague and confused notion regarding the religion and cultural force that permeates much of the rest of the world.

For my part, I certainly am no scholar on the topic, but I spent the majority of my childhood in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, and so I think I have an understanding of Muslims and Islam, experiential rather than book-learned, that most Americans do not. I woke early in the morning hearing the musical call to prayer emanating from the mesjid (mosque) in town. I accepted without question that Muslims had their holy day on Friday, just as Americans do not question having Saturday and Sunday as their weekend. I always knew when shops would be closed or have shortened hours due to Idul Fitri and Ramadan, and it didn't seem strange to me. Halal meat, prayer rugs, hajis... all these things made sense to me on a subliminal level because they were part of the culture. And by the same token, I knew simply by living in an Islam-permeated society that the beliefs and practices of Islam were very different from, and usually opposed to, Christianity. There was no "all religions are basically the same" nonsense.

If anyone had asked 10-year-old me whether Islam should be best described as the "religion of peace and tolerance", I would have snorted and rolled my eyes and proclaimed that a question too stupid to be borne. It is well known that even in largely moderate Indonesia, people who convert to Christianity from Islam are often targeted for murder by family members. I knew that even at age 10. But at the same time, aside from their killing of those deemed apostate, I wouldn't have necessarily characterized Islam as a religion of violent murderous extremism toward outsiders, because that hadn't been my observation or experience. Indonesia has plenty of groups practicing extreme fundamentalist Islam, but in the 1980s, there was little of that in my far east corner of the country, Irian Jaya in New Guinea.

Basically, I would have said that in general, Islam is a religion of laziness, hypocrisy, and treating females badly.

21 May 2013

Wait, What?!

No, seriously. Pardon my French, but WHAT THE HELL?!

The United States government is no longer even bothering to obscure the fact that their support for human rights is naught but facile, farcical posturing. The spokesperson for the Department of State refuses point-blank to condemn gender-based apartheid and discrimination in Iran. She goes on to claim that the administration supports "free and fair" elections, but that definitions of "free and fair" may vary*. I'm sorry to be the one to bring the cold rain of logic onto your morally relativistic parade, Ms Psaki, but if you don't have an actual standard to which you adhere regarding freedom and fairness, then you can't ever claim anything is or isn't "free" and/or "fair".

To any reasonably intelligent and objective observer, the upcoming elections in Iran are clearly neither free nor fair (and it is not only women who are disenfranchised). Yet is it possible that our State Department somehow believes they are free and fair? If not, why not just express disapproval and move on? If so, we should all be concerned, not least anyone claiming to be a feminist.

I do not hold that the United States is required to police the doings of other nations. If the citizens of the United States, represented by the State Department, do not wish to interfere in political operations in Iran (or anywhere else), then it should be acknowledged and simply stated as the preferred course of action. But I am truly shocked and disturbed by the obvious and utter lack of cognitive dissonance displayed repeatedly by a person who, as a public spokesperson of the State Department, is a high-ranking official in our government. Ms Psaki and the department she represents are lacking entirely in both honor and self-awareness.

*I'm beginning to suspect that for the State Department, definitions of "human" and "rights" may vary as well. That would explain much regarding their approach to human rights.

19 November 2012

Seriously you guys I just can't even

I haven't been blogging lately. I haven't been writing anything at all lately. There are all the usual excuses about how busy I am, and how difficult it is to find time to write when one is a single mom who works full-time and all that. But tonight I decided that I need to face the fact of what I realized earlier today: I don't write because I don't want to deal with it. It's not the writing itself that I can't handle; it's the fact that there are some things that have been inside of me for a long time and need to be written and I don't want to face the thoughts and feelings that will result from processing and writing. And once I realized that, I then recognized that coming to that realization might be part of the healing process, and readiness to record thoughts and feelings might be the next step of healing.

I have a lot of healing to do, you guys.

Probably no one even checks this blog anymore, and that is fine (not just fine, but fantastic) because I can write it all here and nobody on the internet will even bother to read it. I hope I have the courage and fortitude to really write it.

05 July 2012


Perhaps my persistent failure to blog has led to a decrease in readership. I have only myself to blame.

Over this past week, I've actually been hampered by the fact that my home has had no electricity for six days. If you're in, say, Southern California, and you heard on the news that millions of people lost power in the Eastern US, perhaps you thought, ”Oh, those poor people!” Thank you for your concern. My household was one of those affected, and after nearly a week, it still has not been restored. The daily temperatures have been 90-100 F, with unrelenting humidity. With no air conditioning, the situation has meant misery for many. In addition, we have no way to store or prepare food, and the elevated heat and humidity have meant that food stored at room temperature spoils even more rapidly than usual. Everything in my freezer and nearly everything in my fridge just had to be thrown away. The outage also meant no laundry, no internet, no lights... To add insult to injury, everyone else in town has had their power restored. Just my street and a few adjoining streets seem to be left.

My family are uniquely qualified, as it were, to endure life in sweltering weather sans electricity, but that doesn't mean we enjoy it. I don't even like camping. We hope that power will soon be restored to our neighborhood.

04 July 2012

This Land

I am not overly inclined to be sentimental about most things, and indulgence in any sort of fervor is really not my style. My friends and family are quite aware of my tendencies, and would be startled indeed should I suddenly begin professing deep and passionate feelings related to most anything not related to God or my loved ones. My tendency toward patriotism is such that it might seem as though I haven't any at all. In truth, however, I hold much devotion to the nation of my citizenship, though my journey has been one very different from most people's. I was born in the United States of America, but did not really grow up in that country. I was an adolescent before I lived in the US permanently. There is still, and always will be, a part of me that belongs to the home of my youth, and that is the way of human nature. We are capable of such complexity.

How did I come by my slow-growing patriotism? Imagine, if you will, a story such as this: Suppose I was a child born to a woman who may have been lovely, good and gracious. For reasons not relevant to the story, I was removed from my birth mother and raised by a foster mother. We were happy together and lived in harmony for many years. Others may have looked at us and not understood how we belonged together, but we just knew. I thought we would be together forever. Then one day, I was suddenly taken from my foster mother and returned to my birth mother. Though she was frightening in her unfamiliarity, she was kind in her own way and hoped I could learn to accept her. I remained with her out of duty, as it was the correct and proper thing to do, even though I grieved every day for the lost mother of my youth. Year after year, I worked hard to feel as if I belonged with my birth mother, though we had many differences and even angry disagreements. "You don't understand me. You're not my real mother!" Gradually, I came to accept much of what my birth mother had to offer, not least because still, I knew my duty and would work hard for her. (I'm still a good Asian.) Finally, after two decades, I suddenly realized that I had come to love my birth mother, and I can still love my foster mother without conflict, because they each have a place in my life and in my heart. There is always a right time to belong to each of them. My birth mother needs me right now, as she needs all her children. We need to do the right thing by her. She's been having a rough time of it recently, but she still has plenty of fight left in her and looks good for her age.

Happy birthday, Mom Country!

28 May 2012

Buyer's Remorse

Okay, I'm not really an impulsive person, and I very seldom make impulse purchases. However, I was at TJ Maxx the other night looking for something else entirely when I happened upon this outfit and really liked it.
Cobalt blue is one of my favorite colors and tends to flatter my complexion, plus both the dress and the shoes were marked down to a great price! Cha-ching!

Now, though, I'm wondering if I should return them. I don't NEED them. I never have a reason to dress up. I kind of want to keep them, though, because what if I DO need to dress up and a little black dress isn't right for the occasion? Also, it's difficult for me to find clothes, especially dresses, that fit nicely and flatter my shape. I've griped about this topic on my blog before, but really, "tall, slim, and curvy" is one of the most challenging body types to dress. Tops and dresses that are extensive enough to hang properly on a long torso and limbs tend to be so large as to be baggy and swallow up the wearer, making one look drab and dumpy. (See: A lot of what I wore during my college years.) However, moving in the opposite direction can veer dangerously close to Jessica Rabbit territory. No bueno!

This dress keeps everything covered but is short enough to look summery and fun enough to look as if it doesn't belong in the "mother of the bride" section of the shop.

What do you think, dear readers? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

24 May 2012

Late nights

Hi, internet! Have I mentioned recently that I have chronic insomnia? It's pretty much the bane of my life since it is not advisable for me to take prescription meds for the condition.

I talked to my doctor about it at my last physical, and she asked if I had tried natural remedies such as chamomile tea, valerian, and warm milk. Answer: Yes, yes, and (blech) yes. So she just shrugged and suggested trying some relaxation techniques. Sure, doc, I'd love to do those techniques, and if you would come over to watch my child, cook some meals, clean my house, wash some dishes and laundry, etc, I'm certain I could finally find some time for it. And even with relaxation, I'm a remarkably tense person.

Oy vey. All I know is, work will really suck tomorrow.