Thursday, December 27, 2007

hijab hubbub

For a long time, my hair was my signature – not because I wore a particular style, on the contrary, my hair was very versatile and I rocked many a “do’s”. I watched my mom do my sister's hair and I tried to pay attention when she did mine (when I wasn’t falling asleep that is). As a result, I learned how to handle hair at a very early age. In my wonder years, I wore my hair mostly braided or pressed, but in high school I discovered the miracle of natural texture and I never looked back. Afro puffs, gel-induced curls, head wraps, two-strand twists (referred to by a childhood friend as my ‘fake locks’), etc; I even colored it. Once while sitting in English class, my teacher looked out over the class and asked if I was present. When I raised my hand, she doubled back; told me that when I change my hair, I look like a different person (yeah, it was that deep). In college, my hair expanded and changed shape, along with my thoughts and perspective – full out afros, conditioner-saturated chignons, Iverson-inspired cornrows. I did neglect my hair a bit in college because I did so much braiding/twisting for my peers that when it was time to treat my own tresses I was too tired (in college I also discovered that I have a nice head for hats).

When I became Muslim, I’d been exposed to many sisters who practiced their deen differently – some covered, some didn’t, we all accepted each other and it was no big deal. (Some of the brothers thought it was a big deal, but that’s another post for another day…) I was comfortable with taking my time. “I would cover one day,” I told myself and others, “When I’m ready, I will do it. I don’t want to rush and then backslide later.” I felt very strongly that modest appearance does not a Muslim make, so I was content in my heart to take my sweet time. Years passed (really, I think two) and I still wasn’t covering – still not an issue. Then, one year I went to homecoming and stayed with my sister friend who was living with a Muslim family. In this family there was very inquisitive, outspoken young daughter. She asked me when I arrived if I was Muslim, and I said yes. Then she asked why didn’t I cover, and I had no answer for her. So I started covering that day. That was October of 2006. I’ve worn my hair out maybe 3 or 4 days since then (just to let it breathe, you know). And I’ve seriously considered not covering anymore. Some mornings the scarf just won’t lay right and it’s so frustrating. Some days my hair looks so fly that I just want everyone to see it. Some days I just don’t want anything on my head. So the plan was to stop covering when the new year came. The new year’s not particularly significant. It’s just easier to let on-lookers think it’s some sort of resolution rather than to explain my religious-internal-modesty-versus-vanity-versus-self-image conundrum. I just want to feel the most like myself that I possibly can.

But here’s the thing, somewhere over the course of the past 14 months, covering has become a significant part of who I am. Sure on a lax day I will wear a hat, but I cannot imagine going out without my hair covered. It would be uncomfortable – I would feel exposed. I told myself that in the new year I would be finished with my persnickety preoccupation with my hijab. Either I would stop covering and be fine with it or I would continue covering and shut up already! (Because, really Teresa, it’s only as deep as you make it and nobody wants to hear it any more.) I used to think that it wasn’t so big a deal; I do all the fundamental stuff, so what’s a hijab? Then it occurred to me, if the other components of this deen come easily to me, then that’s all the more reason to strive for this one. Others have substance abuse, fornication and heavier things to overcome, but I have this issue of vanity with my hair. It is my very own struggle, and maybe Allah (SWA) will be pleased with me for making the effort to submit in a way that would seem small by comparison but is so big to me.

So days before the new year arrives, I’ve made my decision. My hijab is here to stay. (And that’s all I have to stay about that. Seriously.)

Monday, December 10, 2007


You help raise them. For the first few years you’re praying not to drop them on their heads or give any permanent damage. Then they start school and you hope they make friends and catch on to the lessons quickly. They get to high school without being retained a grade and no one’s pregnant or has contracted anything. No negative statistics here; in fact, they’re thriving. Good grades, good athletes, confident, socially well adjusted and possibly trend-setting. A couple of years from college – it’s gonna be alright. Then they get assaulted by cops in the hallway of their school building. Everything is turned upside down. You want to hit something, shoot something, burn that bitch to the ground. You want to spit in the faces of every pig you see. You want to make somebody pay. More than anything, you want to go back in time and keep it from every happening.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Respite Housewives

I stayed home yesterday – just straight up took a vacation day. Okay, not purely for the sake of vacating; we had a furniture delivery (yay for something besides the couch to sit on!). I dropped Homeboy off and kept the car because I’d planned to run all these errands. When I got back home, it started to snow – no pansy snow either – I’m talking flakes the size of __________ (insert name of random large insect or small rodent here). So I thought to myself, what if I used this Paid Time Off as… time off! Novel idea, isn’t it? I’m a genius. Once I accepted the notion of relaxation, I had a very good day. What did I do?

1. Perfected my one-hand pancake flipping skills
2. Took a bath
3. Read various blogs, access to which are denied at work
(“Access to which…” I bet that’s all wrong grammatically)
4. Was held hostage by a Law&Order SVU marathon
5. Shoveled our backyard pathway, front steps and sidewalk
(This work I liked doing. Besides, we’re homeowners now and that’s our responsibility and I’m not risking somebody pretending to fall in front of our house so they can sue.)
6. Drank hot cocoa (Damn, I’m such a bad television commercial.)

I guess it’s what some would call a “mental health” day. I didn’t have that purpose in mind when I did it, but I’m glad I did. It wasn’t all bon-bons and daytime television, but dammit I was close!

ANTM – PS – Bianca’s gone! Hooray! IN YO FACE! (more on that later…)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

the closest i may ever get to being on Inside the Actors Studio

I would LOVE for you (whoever "you" are) to repost and reply to these questions - in the comments or on your respective blog spaces (just please let me know if you do, so I can come look.)

1. What is your favorite word?
(You ask this of a writer? Are you serious?) "love"

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on?

4. What turns you off?

5. What is your favorite curse word?

6. What sound or noise do you love?

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
awkward silence

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

9. What profession would you not like to do?

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"I understand."