Ennui

Blue. Or maybe sort of a deep violet, like when the sun is setting in the desert sky. Yeah. That’s how she feels. Not quite sad or depressed. Just kind of in the feels of it all with a touch of alone sprinkled with a fine dusting of “damn, I wish the sun would come back.”

She goes through the motions of her day. Mundane tasks that, in all honesty, anyone can do but doesn’t. She starts the laundry and then washes the dishes. She flips the load to the dryer and starts another load of wash. Then back to the kitchen to make dinner. Her kids are uninterested in learning to cook anymore, so she skips asking for their assistance and watches a British crime show series on her smartphone with the Bluetooth headset.

Her family trickles in around dinner time. Two or three of the teens discuss whatever game or meme or viral video they all have in common this week. One engages with her about his day and her day for as long as it takes to inhale a meal without chewing. He clears his plate. One daughter has already gone to bed and her husband is engrossed in international news.

She cleans up and readies the coffee pot for tomorrow morning. By the time she gets to bed, her husband is already snoring. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe tomorrow she’ll feel pink or orange. But tonight it’s still a deep violet blue.

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Winter Road Trip

We added another city to our “TEXAS: The European Tour” list. We drove to Odessa. Okay, we drove through Odessa. We bought gas in Odessa. We really wanted to go to the Meteor Crater Museum in Odessa. But after driving nearly two miles down that lonely stretch of road out in the middle of nowhere, the kids started getting a little freaked out and talking about that old, horror movie “Wrong Turn” and begged me to just turn around and go back to the interstate. So I did.

So, did we really drive 335 miles just to get gas and not see anything? No. We did, however, go out to El Paso to visit my parents. We had a fabulous visit. We spent a lot of time together, cooking and talking and just enjoying each other. And shopping with my Bonus-Mom. She loves to take us to Goodwill stores. Getting really great items at a cheap price with that whole 50% off of specific colored tags days and add that 10% military discount is like winning a scratch-off lottery ticket. My dad taught me a new way to make steaks on the grill and he smoked a meatloaf. It was delicious.

They wanted to watch a movie on Netflix after Randa went to bed, so I suggested “Dumplin‘ ” with Jennifer Aniston. I’m not a huge Jennifer Aniston fan. I mean, she’s good at what she does. But I don’t race out to see her movies just because she’s in them. But the book, “Dumplin’ ” was written by some of our local Fort Worth area talent, Julie Murphy. She is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author. And she’s married to one of my son’s wrestling coaches. Coach Pearce and Ms. Murphy have a cameo appearance at the end of the movie and it is super-exciting seeing people you know onscreen. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I am heading to the library today to check out the book.

The drive was long but not exhausting because Sam has her permit and I let her drive nearly half the way. Dad worked with her on parallel parking so I guess she’s ready to take the driving portion of her test whenever she wants. I’m thinking about the time she can afford to pay her portion of the car insurance. HA! We played a homemade version of MadLibs in the car and cracked each other up with what ended up being twisted versions of song lyrics from the 80s. Aiman beat me by ONE LETTER in the alphabet game and we spotted license plates from over 35 states (including Rhode Island,) 2 Canadian provinces, 4 Mexican states, and a tag from Qatar. All in all, it was a good trip.

It is good to be home, though, because I missed my two other boys and my husband. I don’t think I realize how tightly knit we are until we’re apart from one another for more than 24 hours and then it sort of sinks in that these people are my heart. Thankfully, Randa is doing better with changes like short trips to visit her grandparents. So maybe we’ll be able to visit more often. And as to that old saying, “You can’t go home again?” It’s not true. We do.

Lazy Daze

I have fallen into a rut it. Or so it would seem. I haven’t written anything in well over a month. I wish that I could say it was because I’ve been busy with NaNoWriMo and that I’m almost finished with my novel. That would be an outright lie. (Although I did start working on my  novel again at the inspiration of NaNoWriMo. But life, as usual, got in the way and by life, I mean that all of the carpooling, ten tons of laundry, and umpteen open houses and real estate showings kept me away from my computer.

Yeah, I know that WordPress will let me blog via email. But anyone who has ever had the pleasure of texting with me can tell you that I am a nightmare of typos and skipped letters on my phone. I must edit EVERY single Facebook comment or post at least 6 times before finally getting mad and deleting whatever was causing my grammarian eyeball to twitch.

I have been enjoying the lazy daze. NOT a typo. My “days” are far from lazy. I enjoy the “lazy daze” of falling into a good book and just reading until my timer goes off to let me know that I need to take dinner out of the oven or go pick up my son from wrestling practice. Sometimes my “lazy daze” involves playing Words With Friends until I’ve caught up on all 14 game boards that I have open and I play the lightening rounds. I did delete the other two games that I was playing on my phone. They made me a little anxious and I decided that I had enough anxiety in my life and deleted them both from my phone.

Perhaps I will get back to blogging every couple of days again. I would like this. I feel that I am still a writer when I actually sit and write. But until I have something more than just laundry reports and political ranting (there’s more of that on the internet than is necessary,) then I will just continue to save up the stories in my head until I am ready to post something that is worth reading. You’re welcome.

 

But I Still Feel 25 Inside

So, I’ll be celebrating the 21st anniversary of my 29th birthday this month. Oh, yeah. And I’m quite happy with most of my choices over the years that have helped shape me into the person I am today. I’m a pretty okay with me as a human. My mind is pretty sharp and I have this razor wit to match it. I love to challenge my brain with word puzzles and learning new things as often as possible.

But let me tell you something:  My body is revolting. NO! I don’t mean my appearance will make you vomit. (Well, it might. But honestly, that’s YOUR problem if it does.) I mean it’s rebelling against all the stuff my brain is telling it to do. For instance, in the last two weeks, I’ve painted three rooms in my house. My hands refuse to cooperate anymore and if I paint for eight hours in one day to complete the task, then I am lying in bed or across the couch for the entire next day with throbbing pain in knees and across my knuckles.
Arthritis is not the stuff that dreams are made of.

I argue with myself a lot anymore. I force myself to get out of bed at 6 a.m. and I usually lose the fight with my knees as I mentally attempt to force them to stop popping and cracking as I walk across the house.  Suffice it to say that my days of sneaking up on people are over. They’ll hear me coming from a mile away.

It’s difficult knowing that your body can’t keep up with your mind anymore. I do still try to force my body to keep up. My mind isn’t hearing that “but I’m old” excuse. It wants what it wants and it wants it right now. But my body keeps telling my brain, “YOU might feel only 25 still, but down here below the neck? This shit is ALL 50, sister. So you can just get bent.” (My body is kind of crass to my brain.)

Whatever age I am and/or feel, I refuse to give up. I will continue to keep pushing myself to learn and paint and work and move. There is still a lot of truth to that saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”  I just know that I’ll be using a lot more ibuprofen and joint creams.

Ch-ch-changes

Consider this post a Public Service Announcement.

As the parent of an adult child with Autism, I have learned that changes can be hard. If we rearranged the living room, she would be upset and want to return the furniture to where it had previously been. She is still upset with us for painting the sea foam green walls in our apartment white back in 2007. We don’t exactly love the tears and bad moods that go along with changes in our household. But we do love her and work with her on accepting change. Sometimes it is a matter of attempting to include her in the choices surrounding the pending change; she can choose between two paint colors we’ve narrowed it down to or she can come with us to select which room will be hers if we are buying a new house.  She shares my minimalist taste in most decorative things, although I usually maintain veto power on things like bright purple rugs and large posters of whatever animated superhero she is currently excited about.

We have been painting the house for the last ten days or so, packing things into boxes to get them out of the way and donating things we don’t use anymore to Mission Arlington. These changes are making for some gnarly mood swings. Twice she asked my friend, Terri, to “please go away” when she was here helping me paint. This last time, Terri thought ahead and brought cheese pizza when she came. My daughter decided she could stay.

Changes are hard for all of us. For people with Autism, it can be a trigger for several bad days in a row. If you’re working or living or schooling with someone who is on the spectrum, try to be patient when they are in distress over changes to their regular routine. Change disorients people and can make them feel uncomfortable and lost and uncertain of themselves and the world around them. Taking the time to explain the change ahead of time, if possible, will sometimes prepare them and make for a slightly less anxious situation.

 

Outfitting Ismail

Every child goes through that tween/teenager search time in his or her life. Some hit these milestones sooner than others.  My third child, Ismail, was ten years old when he started. I was a little confused as to why he was the one hanging out in the “personality fitting room” of life, rather than his fourteen-year-old brother. I expected my teenager to try on “the Emo” or “the Nerdy Loner” or even “the Gangsta” personalities. When I was his age, I wore “the Jock-ette” and “the Sharp-Witted Clown” suits quite easily. In fact, I never took those personalities out of my closet. But my oldest was still comfortable in his “Artist Pajamas” that he’d been rocking since kindergarten. Ismail, on the other hand, had a rotisserie style of personality uniforms (from the sales racks, apparently) that included ensembles made by “Wannabe Rap Artist Minus Any Hint of Rhythm,” “Bossy McBosspants,” “Sweet, Helper Boy,” “Mean, Bully Guy,” and “Protector of All Things Family.”

I didn’t understand the attraction to most of his favorite designs.  I really liked “Sweet, Helper Boy.”  This was the guy who did dishes without being asked, volunteered to take out the trash or pick up what I needed from the market. He and “Protector of All Things Family” defended his sisters, brothers, neighbors, and cousins, and would even pick up trash that slovenly neighbors dropped on the stairs of our building.

“Bossy McBosspants” seemed to set up daily coup attempts to overthrow his brother, Mohamed, from his position as firstborn. This guy would jump up and yell out orders to his younger siblings and get everyone motivated to clean their rooms and dress quickly on those days we were scheduled to go on family outings. “Thug” got on my last nerve. He had a fascination with knives and swearing and fighting. He and “Mean, Bully Guy”
were never quite welcome here and were the reasons Ismail lost computer privileges most of that Summer.

“Wannabe Rap Artist” would have been tolerable, if only he could keep a beat. Did you ever see the movie, “The Jerk,” starring Steve Martin where everyone in the family is dancing around on the front porch and keeping time except him? Yeah, that’s Ismail. He knows it, too. He used to ask his eight-year-old brother, Aiman, to teach him how to dance. After several failed attempts, Aiman finally told him, “I’ve tried. You just like to shake your crotch. That’s not krumping.”  It never stopped him from trying to rap or dance, though. He later moved the “Wannabe Rap Artist” to the back of his personality closet and now only pulls it out in an effort to make his brothers laugh.

I used to worry about which personality ensemble he would finally end up wearing. But I couldn’t really force my preferences on him. I could only offer suggestions and allow him to try them on and figure out his own comfort in them. It was just my turn to stand back like the changing room attendants at a fancy department store and hope that he would opt for a classic style with his own touches, rather than a passing fad. I finally came to the conclusion that all I could do was encourage Ismail to tear off the most positive pieces of each of these personality suits and stitch them into his own custom-made pattern that fit him perfectly. And eventually, he did and it fits him so nicely now that he’s grown into it.

Ismail is now twenty years old with a beautiful combination of  responsibility, service, laughter, respect, honesty, humility, generosity, and faithfulness that, combined with a new interest in country music, suit him just fine. I worried for nothing.

 

 

She Deserves More

2015 May Monsoon Arlington(Photo credit: N. Mohamed-Fawzy)

She’s heartbroken and mourning the loss of love. The break-up was one that hurts but is better for her in the long run. He wasn’t the one. He was nice enough and kind enough to her for a while. But he didn’t choose to make her the one who makes him happy. He allowed someone else to make his choice for him. And that just tells her that he finds her to be “not enough.” Hopefully, she knows that that simply is not true. Hopefully, she knows that what it really means is that HE is not enough for her. She deserves to be loved unconditionally, completely, and without end. She deserves to have a man who will hold her, love her, laugh with her, cry with her, comfort her, joke with her, hold her hand while they watch t.v. together.  And if she mentions how much she loves the moon, he should want to get it for her. And she should never be made to feel second to anyone on his list of important people.

She deserves more.

Garbage

I was asked tonight by a college professor, “What do you write about?” and I said it was mostly garbage. I then back-pedaled and told him about the ten chapters of a novel I have written that has been in a drawer for the last five years because I am just “stuck” on one of my characters.  (It’s too early to kill him off yet. Trust me. I tried.)  The professor asked me about the story line and we got into a ten-minute discussion about it. He actually seemed interested in it and encouraged me to finish the book.

Why would I say that I write mostly garbage? I mean, it’s true that a lot of garbage does end up on the  pages of this blog but those usually sit in the draft file and after a week or two I re-read and say, “What the hell was I thinking?” and then I delete them. The stuff I actually publish is usually pretty good. (Uhm, YEAH! I do think I’m good at this.) I think I may have said it because I’ve slacked off in the writing department. I haven’t published anything since June and that’s unlike me. In fact, I haven’t really written anything since June. And that’s REALLY not like me.

I suppose I could blame the heat. My computer is set up in the living room where there is no ceiling fan to help circulate the air conditioning. With the average temperature this past month being well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I haven’t been able to do much but sweat and shower. But it’s also been a lack of creativity, so there’s not a lot going on in my head but planning Summer meals, and teaching Sam how to drive. (She’s not bad.)

I have been reading a lot. I’ve completed four books in the last 45 days or so. Some were recommended and some I became interested in following interviews with the authors on “Think!” with Krys Boyd on NPR. (She’s got great guests on her show and I love how prepared she is and how she has thoroughly read the books and researched the authors. You certainly don’t get that level of preparedness on television interviews!

I’d love to get my head out of the garbage place that it seems to be right now. I will. Perhaps when the kids go back to school I’ll be able to  re-focus and complete my story. Who knows? Maybe Krys Boyd will read my novel once it’s published and I’ll be a guest on her show.

In the mean time, I’m going to get my character’s story together in my head so that I can make him the antagonist that I want him to be. And trust me. This story won’t be garbage.

Be Still My Heart

TreeHuggerCapNGown(Photo credit: Ro Burch Photography)

Just one more day and my baby girl will be graduating high school. Where did the time go? I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. I am so incredibly proud of her. She has worked hard and achieved so much. This sweet, intelligent, generous, strong, articulate, and beautiful girl has grown to be an amazing young lady.  She has pushed herself to step outside her comfort zone and planted seeds of friendship, ever fearful that those seeds would scatter to the wind, never rooting.  But she tended to those seeds and watched them sprout and bloom and she cultivated some of the best friends she could ever have hoped for.

In her academic pursuits, she has managed to hold her own. She arrived to this country knowing how to speak English fluently, but extremely far behind in reading and writing. She overcame that challenge and eventually moved into the Advanced Placement English class her senior year. She was selected by the principal of her school as one of the Top Ten Graduating Seniors for 2018 and honored as such by the Arlington South Rotary Club. She participated in sports, Texas Academic Decathlon, a Ready, Set, Teach! practicumWinter Guard competitions, Texas Association for Future Educatorscompetitions, Just Keep Livin’ foundationInteract, was a founding member of the revival of the Muslim Student Association at her school, and a dedicated volunteer with Starry Night Prom, Inc. She was accepted into two prestigious private colleges and awarded the Dean’s Scholarship to both. She selected Texas Wesleyan University. She was also awarded two local scholarships; the Jimmy Riner Scholarship and the Chapa-Salas scholarship. 

She worked at a local fast food restaurant to pay for all of the “senior stuff,” as she calls it. Her yearbook, cap and gown, letterman jacket, her laptop, and the deposit to hold her spot at Texas Wesleyan University, she decided to pay for on her own. THIS is what responsibility looks like. This kid has taken her dreams of “what I want to be when I grow up” and whittled it down from Mom-Teacher-Lawyer-Psychologist-Dancer-Softball Coach-Manager for a WWE Superstar-Musician to Teacher-Softball Coach-Lawyer-Mom and maybe Manager for a WWE Superstar once she retires from the others. She’ll do it, too. All of it. I believe in her.

And my heart will pound so hard tomorrow night that I will barely hear her as she welcomes the Sam Houston High Family to the commencement in Arabic, before walking across that stage as a Cum Laude, National Honor Society, AVID 2018 High School Graduate. Congratulations, Sam.

Hot Child in the City

It’s been hot. Like freakishly, blistering August humid hot since the first week of May. And I am melting into the furniture and changing clothes two and three times a day.

And sleeping. There is a whole lot of sleeping happening around here.

And I want to just drive to the beach but that’s a good 4 or 5 or more hours from here at least….to find a beach with no toxic pollutants or flesh-eating bacteria in it. But the thought of being in a hot ass car driving across Texas reapplying sunscreen every 3 hours because yes, I do burn even behind tinted windows, makes my head hurt.

So for now I will continue to lie on the couch under the ceiling fan. But soon this hot child will head out of the city and due south to the gulf.