XX Year Anniversary of XXIX

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I woke up to that awesome “wall of guitars” this morning.  I was intrigued, yet slightly annoyed, that someone was in my bedroom playing a hauntingly echoing version of Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman” while I slept.  Then I remembered that I had changed my ringtone on my cellphone the other day.  So I pulled my phone out of the trash can by my bed where it had fallen last night when I tried to put it on the night table and attempted to say hello.  I heard my brother-in-law’s cheerful voice saying, “Happy birthday.”  I tried to say,  “Thanks.” It sounded more like a grunt, but he interpreted it as “Congratulations! You won the ‘I got to say Happy Birthday first’ game.”  His linguistic skills were spot on.

After he handed the phone of to my sister to claim her second-place finish, and I checked my text message from my brother who technically was first since he texted at 12:18 a.m., I reflected on some things.  Today  is the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. That’s a lot of 29s.  And I am nowhere close to the goals I’d set for myself when I was a young teenager.  But that’s good. At this point, my career as a “medical examiner who moonlights as a hot bathing suit model” would probably be washed up.  I’ve got a mom-body, complete with extra padding for warm, sincere hugs and my cooking skills are A+ since my food doesn’t taste like medical hand soap and formaldehyde.  I’m good.

Unlike me at the original 29 year mark, I have built my patience up to tolerate early morning phone calls with honest laughter.  I left my not-so lucrative career of seventeen years to become a broke, stay-at-home-mom who blogs and over-volunteers at the school and with a favorite non-profit organization.  On the “How Tidy is My Home” scale, I still only rank about a 6 on average, maybe a 7.5 if I have more than 15 minutes notice that someone is en route to see us.  But as long as we’re not wallowing in filth (read: I’ve mopped once this month but forced the kids to vacuum a few times) and we aren’t qualified to be featured on “Hoarders,” I’m okay with it.

And while I complain about the little things that annoy the crap out of me, like being the chauffeur of shame hauling young adults to and from work, college, high school, and various volunteer and social engagements, I know that I have a great life.  I genuinely LOVE my family and my friends.  (Thanks, Venetia, Sara, and Cindy, by the way.  The three of you have been my first truly best friends (who don’t share a mom with me) in many years and you have no idea how great that feels or how much I appreciate it.)  I have a home that is large enough to house us all comfortably.  My husband works a job where he is home every evening around the same time and no longer has to travel for extended periods.  And we sit down to dinner every single night together. Yes, we eat as a family every day. I have a great life. And I’m so grateful to Allah for providing this.

I have decided to carpe the crap out of this diem.  I’m going to make a B.A.B.B. (that’s Big Ass Birthday Brisket) for dinner and maybe let my daughter help me choose a birthday cake. (It’ll be chocolate so the masses will be happy. I may get myself a lime popsicle or something, so that I will be happy.)  And I will sit back and allow them to do all of the chores for my big, fat celebration of ME.

**The dirty little garden gnome? No. He has no real significance to this story. I just like him and decided he’d make a lovely thumbnail for this blog post.

 

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Texas: The European Tour

Did you know that Texas has a plethora of cities named after European cities?  I have known about Paris, Texas since I was a young girl.  I’ve toured most of Europe since we lived in Germany most of my childhood.  We spent many a holiday visiting the UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, and more.  As a young adult, I traveled to Greece.

Now that we’re living in Texas, a lot has changed.  We’ve aged and don’t really feel the urge to travel great distances like we once did.  But on a whim, I took the kids on a road trip to Paris, Texas during Spring break a few years ago.  It was fun.  They have an Eiffel Tower there….but with a gigantic cowboy hat on the top of it.  Next to that, there is a veterans memorial dedicated to all of the veterans from that area as far back as the mid-1800’s.

After that trip, I decided that we’re going to check out every European city within our great state of Texas.  The next place we visited was Dublin, Texas.  It’s hands down our favorite so far.  We got to tour the Ben Hogan Museum there.  It was great.  Ben Hogan was such an amazing contributor to the game of golf.  He deserves his own little museum.  We also toured the Dr. Pepper Museum while we were there.  That place is so cool.  They’ve got DP stuff that goes back over 100 years.  We also had some sandwiches at the little sandwich shop that runs the DP museum and purchased a case of sodas bottled by the Dublin soda factory that still runs today.  I’d like to go back there one day when the antique shops are open.

We had a very sweaty trip to Athens, Texas.  Unfortunately for us, we got a late start on a Sunday, and by the time we arrived almost the whole town was closed.  We did go on a self-guided tour of the Arboretum there and it was extremely pleasant, albeit hotter than a $12 stereo.  The best part was a huge gazebo with a massive fan in the ceiling (it wasn’t on) and a stage.  No one was around, so I stood on that stage and sang my fool head off.  The acoustics were awesome.

This past Spring break, we attempted to see the sites of Rhome.  (No, that’s  not a typo.  It’s just a Texan spelling of Rome, I guess.)  The tiny little veterans memorial there was nice.  But that’s pretty much all it had to offer.  We got a little spooked by the muscle car full of rednecks that kept driving up and down the road while we were at the memorial.  The occupants kept staring at us like we were Martians.  Probably they’d never seen such good-looking people before.  Of course, it may have been the hijabs the girls and I were wearing.  Anyway, we decided 15 minutes was long enough and piled back in the van and went home.

Today, we decided to try a city whose twin used to be behind the Iron Curtain:  WARSAW.  Warsaw’s history is pretty sparse.  It was established back in 1847 and had a post office until 1858.  I think the largest population it had was 65 back in the 1990s, until recently when there was a huge population growth and now the town numbers 300.  They have a community center now.  And. Nothing. Else.  The trip was a 114-mile U-turn in someone’s driveway.  It’s a couple-hundred horse town….but no stop lights.  We didn’t even get out of the car.  We just drove back home and made ice cream sundaes and watched the rain fall for a while.  But that’s okay.  It was one more town checked off our list and family time of sandwiches in the car, one stop at a gas station to pee, and another story of “family togetherness torture” for the kids to complain about to their therapists when they’re older.

 

 

Welcome Home, Hero. Rest in Peace.

This was not the first military funeral I had attended.  It was the first time I’d been to any funeral that took place 76 years after the deceased had died.  This young man, a kid the same age as my third of five children, has finally made it home to be put to rest with his family in a hero’s ceremony.  Seaman First Class George Anderson Coke, Jr. came home to Arlington today for the first time since he left for boot camp back in 1941.

My friend, Leslie Dorn Barton, is George Coke’s second cousin once or twice removed.  I’m still unclear on all that genealogy stuff.  While I’d like to be able to trace back my family tree, I’m quite unorganized and tend to think circularly rather than in clear straight lines.  Besides, I’ve got aunts and cousins on both sides of my tree who really dig that sort of thing and they actually journal it all. Anyway, Leslie is one of the Special Education teachers who taught my daughter at Sam Houston High School. We became friends over the last couple of years. So naturally, when she mentioned that this funeral was happening today, I told her I’d come.

It’s been hotter than ever all week and I was so relieved when the thunderstorms hit our city last night and it rained until the wee hours this morning.  I donned my black abaya and a gray and black scarf and then headed over to the First United Methodist Church and tried to “blend in” with the Arlington locals.  I know.  I didn’t. The sole Muslim in a sea of mostly older, white, Christian faces.

I listened to the history of George Coke, Jr., son of George Coke, Sr., who was the Chief of Police in Arlington back in the 1920s.  I learned that of the 3,500 American casualties that day in Pearl Harbor, that Arlington lost 48 souls.  My mind wandered, as is the norm during funerals.  Everyone in some way or another is reminded of their own immortality at a funeral.  With military funerals, you are also reminded of all of your family members and friends who also served in the armed forces.  I felt a few tears escape today as I remembered friends who were killed in foreign wars.  I felt a few more tears escape as I offered prayers of thanks and gratitude for those family and friends who returned safely home.

I followed the funeral procession to Parkdale Cemetary. We were escorted by members of the United States Navy and a large number of the Arlington Police Department.  I watched as the sailors, now pallbearers, respectfully carried the remains of their comrade who fell in the line of duty more than half a century before any of them were born.  And the firing of the three volleys, though I knew they were coming, still caught me off guard and those tears of relief that most of my loved ones returned to me fell from my eyes as a silent salute to Seaman Coke and all of the thousands who didn’t.

My heart stirred as I watched the slow and deliberate movements of the sailors folding the flag and the hand off of that folded flag followed by the final salute from Seaman to Non-Commissioned Officer to Officer to Rear Admiral and finally to George Coke, Jr.’s family members.  The spent shell casings from the three volleys, symbolizing duty, honor, and country, were then placed into the hand of the young descendant of Seaman Coke.

A cool breeze gently blew across my face, air-drying the silent tears and leaving my cheeks a little bit sticky.  I hugged Leslie and shook hands with her son, aunt, and mother.  I looked back to see the final resting place of Seaman Coke, under the Live Oak and the Crepe Myrtle trees, beside his mother and father.  Welcome home, hero.  Rest in peace.

 

Ramadan 1438 (2017)

Well, in sticking with my usual Ramadan traditions, breakfast was LATE on the first night this year, too. I had big plans, people. BIG plans. We had the dates soaking in milk for about 13 hours. We had freshly made mango juice. We had hummous and baba ghanouj and I even remembered to have my husband bring bread home with him…because I always forget it. We had the coffee pot set up and ready to brew. I had found a recipe for making spiral-cut parmesan baked potatoes and had them ready to go. I had pulled the ribeyes out of the freezer before noon to thaw and since it was 40 billion degrees outside, I decided we’d grill them in the oven instead of any of that charcoal grill nonsense. And I made Brussels sprouts. I should have gone with the charcoal grill.

The stupid meat would not freaking cook. They’re steaks. I’ve made them at least 4000 times in my life time. WHY? What gives? The physics in my oven just decided to go on strike? AUGH! I don’t know what was going on there….but it was terrible. We had all the sides and juices and salads. But no meat until 9:00 when they finally finished cooking. And they were terrible. I was so sad that, of all the traditions, being late with dinner on the first night of Ramadan was the one that I managed to keep. *sigh* Oh, well.

Today I took the meat out of the freezer at 10 a.m. I’m going to start cooking at 3 p.m. And all I’ll have left 40 minutes or so before the sundown is to make a pot of rice and to turn the coffeepot on. Now if I could just remember this lesson on the first night of Ramadan 1439, I’ll be in good shape.

Ramadan Mubarak.

رمضان مبارك

 

THIS IS ONLY A TEST!

Like most of the “popular vote,” our family mourned the election results on November 9, 2016. My 11 year old niece was in tears, asking my sister, “But how could HE be elected? He’s mean. How could America elect a bully to be our next President?” Indeed.

She wasn’t the only kid to react this way. I have friends in Florida, North Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Maryland, New York, Georgia, Arizona and everywhere in between who held their children on Wednesday morning, wiping away tears of confusion and disappointment that someone who bullies others in public and on television and LIVES the example of what they are NOT supposed to be, could be elected to lead our country.

I gave myself that Wednesday (and honestly, the following Thursday and Friday, too) to grieve Hillary Clinton’s loss of the election. And then I chose happy.

My sister has a sign in her kitchen that says: Happiness is a Choice. Of course, she keeps that sign on the counter right next to the knife block. So, I guess if you can’t choose happiness, you can always choose the butcher knife. Still, it’s a choice. I chose happy.

Am I happy that Donald Trump is our President-elect? Hell, no. But I am happy to have the next four years to find someone better to run against him in 2020. (Sidetrack: Wouldn’t that be an awesome campaign slogan? JOAQUIN CASTRO FOR PRESIDENT- Because hindsight is 20/20. I digress.)

Look, I am an American Muslim of Irish descent, married to a naturalized Egyptian. We have a disabled daughter and we live under the poverty level and we don’t have health insurance because it’s not offered at my husband’s job and we fall through the cracks of ACA because our dumbass state officials in Texas decided to “show them” and not expand Medicaid….EVEN THOUGH Texans are still federally taxed. So we’re paying for Medicaid in other states and not insuring the poor in our own. I had EVERYTHING to lose in this election. But I’m choosing happy.

My faith teaches me that I must be PATIENT. I can be patient for 4  years of a Trump administration. I can USE that patient 4 years to write letters, investigate and research better qualified Democrat candidates and help to promote them. If we move NOW and are patient through the next 4 years, we can help put forth far better qualified candidates to win in 202o. Hey, you third party voters. PLEASE, do the same. If you in the Green Party and in the Libertarian Party work hard at finding a better candidate NOW….start fund-raising NOW….to get better candidates than Stein and Johnson…..get the monies needed to build up a great campaign 4 years from now…..I’ll bet you have a shot. Hell, you guys come up with someone better than the Democrat nominee and I’ll vote for him or her. But
ALL of you, Democrats, Greenies, and Libertarians: Let’s start NOW. Let’s get out in front
of whatever is coming down the 2020 Republican turnpike and make some serious changes in our government. Start finding mid-term candidates for your congressional representatives now. Put some effort in early so that you can all make our Congress more honest; more representative of US, the voters. They work for us. Make them earn their pay.

This is a test. ONLY a test. Somebody wanted a big shake up and change to the status quo. They got their wish. Let’s take their wish for change a step further and use the next 4 years to work toward true greatness. We’ll have a lot of pieces to pick up. Maybe we can build something new instead of just putting it all back together again. It’s not over. It’s a bump in the road. We can do this.

Now That I Can Breathe Without Tears

This was my post on Facebook the day following the tragic and brutal assassination of five police officers just 20 miles east of me in Dallas. I thought I would share it here and then expand:

“I spent the better part of last night with my ear glued to the radio. I feel like a giant rock is on my chest, I am so heartbroken that this happened here. And I am bracing myself to hear what weak attempt to link this cowardly and brutal assassination of our police officers to either the “open carry” side or the “stricter gun restrictions” side of the argument.
Our police force is NOT a means to anyone’s political end. These were good people who were hunted by a sniper’s rifle while they protected peaceful demonstrators who were exercising their 1st Amendment rights to express their solidarity with people of the other communities who lost young black men in violent deaths at the hands of a few bad cops.
That said, I also firmly believe that every one of those black men who were killed by police officers throughout this country were also good men whose lives were taken out of the fear, prejudice, bad judgment, overzealousness, incompetence, or power-drunken arrogance of a select group of police officers. Just as black criminals do not represent the entire black population, those bad cops do not represent law enforcement as a whole.
My heart hurts today and I just do not want to deal with Trump or Clinton or anyone else’s politically motivated soundbites to further their own campaigns on the backs of Blue or Black coffins.
‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬
‪#‎BackTheBlue‬
‪#‎UnitedWeStand‬

I am still “in the feels” about all of this. I have been since Trayvon Martin was shot four years ago. I’ve watched from the sidelines and spoken my peace in support of my fellow citizens from within the African-American community. I cannot ever understand how they must feel, having to worry every time their young men step outside the safety of their own homes.

I can only imagine that it is similar to how I feel every September 11th; how I go about my day with my butt cheeks clenched and acid burning a hole in my stomach as I wait for all my children and my husband to return home at the end of that day. How every time there is a shooting, hostage situation, or explosion within our borders the first thing that pops into my mind is, “Dear God. Please don’t let it be a Muslim that is committing this terrible act.” Only this anxiety for my black friends is one that they must endure in the backs of their minds EVERY day and not just annually or during some heinous event.

I want to cry out for them and I want to hug them and I want to scream. I want to be the one who organizes some sort of training program to run through all of the law enforcement academies from coast to coast and make sure that our police officers can learn to see our human sides and not affiliate skin color with criminal capability that crosses all racial lines. How do we turn off that hate? Is there an app for THAT?

I am the person who sees the good in others. I am excited that at my children’s high school on the lower socio-economic side of town, there is a police academy training program where the local community college and police academy choose from our predominately minority population to eventually protect and serve our community. This is affecting positive change in our city. I want this for all the cities. I want to see communities working together to improve the economy; opening and supporting small businesses within the poorer neighborhoods so that money is put back into the community and helping to cut unemployment rates, increase local spending, create pride.

I am not Pollyanna. I know that these things will not solve prejudicial views of all or fear due to racial misunderstandings by law enforcement agents. I know that there is no magic wand to “fix it” in the short term. But I know that what I would like to see happen would definitely contribute to a long-term fix of what’s broke in our country. I will continue to push for education opportunities within my own community. I will continue to teach my own kids empathy, fairness, and to stand on the side of right. I know that the genuinely good people of the United States will continue to do the same. And we can support our brothers and sisters of all skin colors, backgrounds, religions, cultures, and still support our law enforcement officials. I’m going to keep doing my part.

My Memories of Former President Jimmy Carter

On August 20, 2015, Former President Jimmy Carter announced to the world that the melanoma that he’d been battling has reached his brain. I was saddened by this news. True, President Carter and I weren’t buddies or friends or even acquaintances. But he was the first US President to whom I’d ever written a letter (complete with a P.S. Tell Amy I said “hi.”) I remembered March 26, 1979, when my mother (a future survivor of metastasized melanoma) ushered me and my siblings into the living room of our home in Fort Bliss, Texas and told us, “Watch this! You are seeing history in the making.” She then explained to us how these two countries (Egypt and Israel) had been at war with each other for years and how President Carter had helped them to write the agreement that they were signing in front of us; how they were promising to make peace from now on.

I guess I didn’t realize what a huge impression this moment had on me. It affected my life in ways I wouldn’t understand until much later. I remembered crying when President Reagan took office in 1980. I could not understand why so many Americans were blaming President Carter for domestic problems like the gasoline shortages and international issues, such as the American hostages taken by Iranian students during an Iranian revolution. I remember the yellow ribbons tied everywhere on post; around trees, light posts, telephone poles, mail boxes. I, too, wanted those Americans to come home. But I didn’t understand why President Carter was being blamed for what other people did. So I started reading the newspapers beyond the comic strips and  Ann Landers.

I continued to study current events and didn’t think much about President Carter after that. I finished high school and started taking night classes at the community college near my home. Eventually, I started working for the government; not uncommon for people living in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. It wasn’t until I had gotten married to an Egyptian man in 1994, that I realized exactly how much President Carter’s assistance in the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accords at Camp David affected my life. I mean, would I have met him if he’d gone to war during his conscript service in the Egyptian military? My husband has a deep respect for President Carter, as do most Egyptians. Peace is a huge deal to a kid who has only known that his country is at war for his first 12-14 years. Of course, being an American, I only had “Oh! I remember watching that on t.v.” to contribute to that conversation. But…I remember it.

President Carter continued what he did best after leaving the White House. He worked on peace initiatives, human rights, and building homes and fighting diseases through the establishment of the Carter Center. Jimmy Carter is a great man. He lives his beliefs every day through service to his fellow humans. He’s filled his 90 years of life with greatness. I am blessed to have been touched, even indirectly, by his leadership, kindness, and deep respect for all human life. I pray that he lives the remainder of his days pain-free and surrounded by those who love him.

“We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must. ~Jimmy Carter, Nobel Lecture

Taking the Upgrade Plunge

While the rest of the American world is comfortable in their common vocabulary that uses phrases like “U-Verse (R)*” and “bundled” and “DVR,” I’m smiling and nodding like the toy Bobblehead you purchased at the last major league baseball game you went to and regret that one last 32-ounce beer every time you look at it. You see, we moved overseas back in 2001. We missed all of the fun when the government mandated everyone moving to digital televisions and forcing everyone into the land of monthly payment plans for cable and satellite dish companies to get filthy stinkin’ richer. (Those companies and their very expensive suit-wearing lobbyists managed to push THAT through with little to no groaning by the American public. Is it any wonder that they’re attempting to push through bills almost monthly to control the internet and how much you’re able to access on it by how much money you have? NET NEUTRALITY, PEOPLE…..Keep it public…..Where was I?)

So, it’s 2015 and we’re back in the USA for 2 years now and I still don’t know what the hell
all of those terms mean….until today. I got a letter from our internet provider informing me that we have 45 days to upgrade or risk having our service interrupted. Strong arm much? I called and found out that due to the amount of interactive internet gaming and video-streaming that we do in this home full of teenagers and Netflix, we’ve been getting hit with nearly double the amount our bill is supposed to be each month. Now, my husband set up
the internet account (on the ancient DSL modem system which apparently was established
in Medieval times, according to our 20-something customer service agent) before the kids and I returned from overseas. So I was not privy to the contract terms and merely put in charge of making sure those monthly bills were paid on time. (See: Bobblehead.) As time
went on, I noticed the bills getting higher and higher and being a very busy SAHM and an obvious overachiever in volunteerism through the schools, I just kept trying to limit the time spent on the internet by screaming, “NO INTERNET USAGE DURING THE SCHOOL WEEK UNLESS IT’S HOMEWORK RELATED!!!”

As we all know, the honor system is fail-proof. Guess again. Either teens today are cleverer than we were at their age or they honestly think that there is a way to rationalize playing first-person shooter games as a needed skill to pass Pre-AP Biology. I’ve come to the realization that since converting to Islam, I’ve not instilled them with the appropriate amount of Catholic guilt that I grew up with.

I asked all the pertinent questions that old farts, like me, need to know when upgrading to a new system. “How much is YOUR upgrade to my neighborhood going to cost ME?” I think she did not appreciate my tone. But she did take the time to speak to me like any kindergarten teacher would a 5-year old on her first day of school, albeit very politely. So I did manage to open a new account on the new system for about what we’re SUPPOSED to be paying now (for the first 12 mos) AND I’m so fortunate that I’m an old fuddy-duddy who believes that books that don’t require Wi-Fi or a USB adapter in order to be read are
more important than having 30-bajillion channels that we’ll never watch, I stuck to my guns and ONLY got the upgraded internet. We have cell phones. Landlines are just an added expense and superfluous. The $8 a month I pay for Netflix is TV enough and now that we’ll have a faster connection, it won’t eat into the internet bill.

And I decided that in order to pay off the current bill, (that my husband and I did NOT run up by chasing down Creepers, jerks that grief our plots, or killing off mutants in a never-ending search to win ZP) I hit up each of our teenagers for $15 to go toward slaying the monster bill that THEY created. I am viewed by many as cheap. I care not. I am teaching these kids that life is NOT free and neither is the WiFi, no matter how much corporate stores advertise that they offer it.

I’m left with just one question:  Isn’t TiVo a football player who  prays after touchdowns?

* U-Verse (R) is registered trademark of AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.

Patience

You hear all the time “Be careful what you wish for.” It’s true. I used to wish, pray and beg for patience. And seemingly I get tested more and more frequently in the patience department. So now that I’m forty-fi*COUGH……COUGH….* ahem, TWENTY-NINE, I realize that patience is not some virtue you just sort of “come into.” It is earned/learned behavior. And every time you ask for it, the patience you already have that you think isn’t enough is going to be tested. And so it goes.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to complain about my teenagers again, right? You would be WRONG. (Oooh….burn.) I am actually being tested frequently by a rather passive-aggressive  neighbor. She is a bigot. She will not speak to me and has gone so far as to scream as though being murdered when she found me walking across the lawn to her to warn her that there were reports of a man attempting to kidnap girls in our area. (I wear a hijab/head scarf. I guess this means I’m a terrorist plotting to kill her? Whatever.) She has instructed her kids/grandkids not to speak to us or play with my kids. (My kids are okay with this.) But then she used to send them over to our yard to drive their bikes, skates, or wagons down OUR driveway because theirs is too full of the six or seven vehicles that they own. I didn’t say anything at first because they’re pretty young (6th grade and down.) But when I walked past and said, “Hi, girls,” and then heard only chirping crickets, I stopped. I turned around and asked, “You guys don’t ever talk to us, do you?” And the  oldest girl just shook her head no. And I asked, “Did we do something bad or something to upset you?” And she shook her head no again. And I just said, “I didn’t think so.” 

It is clear that she is following her mom’s orders. So then I thought about it and I said, “Well, you guys don’t talk to or play with my kids and it’s rude not to answer. So you cannot play in our driveway or yard anymore.” The youngest one asked the older in Spanish, “What did she say?” but the older one just stood there with her mouth open. So I answered the youngest one, “No pueden jugar aqui. Ven a jugar en su propio camino.” Then the oldest REALLY didn’t know what to do except tell the others to come on back into their own yard. 

Now the woman sends her 20 yr old to park his car on the street in front of my house exactly where we put the recycling bin and garbage bags each Wednesday and Saturday. I know that it’s not a coincidence. They ONLY park it there on Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings and Friday nights/Saturday mornings. So I just walk about 4 extra steps past the car and put the recycling bin and put the garbage bags on the other side of the driveway next to their unlicensed/uninsured landscaping trailer that is perpetually full of tree stumps, leaves, equipment and junk and perpetually parked right at the edge of our driveway. 

The thing about it is, I don’t think they actually understand that I’ve had far shittier neighbors than they. I had neighbors who lived upstairs from me and would dump trash, pour water, sweep cat pee and bleach onto my clean laundry or beat their dirty rugs over my head as I hung clothes to dry. 

And I call on my religion to guide me. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was instructed by God through the angel, Gabriel (Jibril) to treat his  neighbors well.* 

*Mujahid reported that a sheep was slaughtered for ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr. He asked his slave, ‘Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? Have you given any to our Jewish neighbour? I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Jibril kept on recommending that I treat my neighbours well until I thought that he would order me to treat them as my heirs.'” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Al-Bukhari]*

And if picking up trash that my neighbors throw into my yard or moving my recycling bin down a few more feet so that they can attempt to annoy me is my test in patience, then I can pass it. For crying out loud, I’ve got 5 teenagers. This is a walk in the park.