I call myself a Writer. Yet I have not yet told how this came to be.

Perhaps we should first look at my childhood. Since I was young I was good at telling stories. My biological mother always would say "Brandy tell me a story." Later as I grew up to around 6 or 7 I saw many Shrinks and Social Workers and I was always Narrating my past so they could analyze me. In Kindergarten I was just learning to read things and in the foster home that taught me to read one of the younger boys made fun of me that he could read before me. This fulled my rage to be better than him and so I read like crazy. In 1st grade I was reading so well that they moved me up to the 3rd grade reading hour (where I'd go to 3rd grade just to read books with them for an hour). In the 3rd grade class I had so much fun and I felt so special being advanced. Also the smartest boy in that class was tripping over a new "hard word LIGHTENING" and I was so tempted to say it out loud to help him but I held my tongue wiggling in my chair saying it over and over in my head. Finally the teacher corrected him and moved on and I never had the chance to show my brilliancy. I was disappointed but still elated I knew more than the smartest boy of 3rd grade. Once I started living with my father and my new mom they encouraged me all the time to read and I did voraciously. All my tests showed I had advanced reading and comprehension skills many grade levels higher than I was in, consistently through the years. I used to spend summers reading book after book eating ice pops curled up with my cat. Also playing pretend with my childhood best friend all the way until the middle of high school led me to enjoy the world of imagination.
In school plays, because of my advanced reading levels, I always got the part of the Narrator because I could easily read quickly and memorize the many lines. It was my inner joy that I was still "the best" at reading. My 5th grade teacher, the wonderful Mr. Vasquez, used to read to us out loud in class and it would send me into the enchantment of books to the point I'd wait eagerly for the reading hour and when it ended I wished I could take his book and finish it off myself. I also by this time had made a few simple poetry books and the teachers had applauded them thoroughly.
Middle School taught me further the power of words and writing. One of the teachers read the first book of Narnia out loud. Another book he read out loud enchanted me to the point where when reading of drunkenness you could almost feel yourself sloshing sideways out the door to the next class. Words held power. I was still writing poetry here and there and practicing my use of imagery with just the right word well placed. In 8th grade our teacher gave us an assignment to write an actual long story. My mind was racing! Oh the plots to make! It was fabulous fun. I wrote a Science Fiction booked called "Journey to Pluto". Basing the characters mostly off of my real life friends. A Book I'm still polishing to publish to this day (it's there in a file!) But I made a short version and gave it to the teacher and she liked it very much.
More importantly though my parents showed it to my Aunt who is into writing and publishing and I had no idea we had so much in common. As we edited the story to make it longer I fell in love with the writing process. I was having fun with this. Also I continued to write poetry to the point when we'd eat out with my grandparents nightly I'd write out a new poem on the napkins and spend the evening trying to find that perfect word and driving my whole family insane trying to capture a feeling with only one word. Eventually my parents gave up and bought me a thesaurus.
Sadly shortly there-after my paternal Grandmother's health was quickly deteriorating. She was placed on Hospice Program and I read literature and pamphlets on how to deal with death. One pamphlet said to let the person know you love them. So one night I went to my grandmother's room and held her sleeping hand while Beethoven's Fur Elise played in the background and finally she woke and I told her how much I loved her and she assured me how much she loved me. That night I was feeling so emotional about it all I wrote the entire experience down and sent it to my mom through the post office since at that time I didn't feel comfortable enough to hand it to her. She saved that letter unbeknown to me at the time.
Later, when my Grandmother died, at her funeral everyone told special things about her. I was too shy to stand up in front of everyone though I had so much to say. My mom though stood and read my letter out loud to everyone. I felt better. As we were walking to leave the cemetery my Dad's Step-sister told me she loved my letter. His other Step-sister came up then too and said "Wow that was powerful. You know you should be a writer!" I was really stunned by the compliments. I know it was heartfelt but 'powerful!?' Me? A writer? Could I be? Am I? Is this where I belong? Is this what I can become? More family members complimented me and a dayIi expected to be so sad turned into something amazing. The beginning of my dream to become a writer. From that moment on I was insatiable in my quest to read more challenging books and each summer I took a classic author in Science Fiction and read all their books. One summer Alan Dean Foster, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, the entire Star Wars novels series. I also inherited my grandmother's Romance Novels and there were hundreds.
I couldn't get enough of reading. It's all I wanted to do. I let homework and school slack as I finished that last page of a great novel. I lived my life in imaginations and fantasy. While I moved around in the physical world my mind was always dual mode in an imagination. I was the Queen of Europe gliding gracefully toward the evening supper and later the grand ball as in real life I went to my next class and to the cafeteria. People around me were just extras on my personal set. Instead of doing homework at night I'd spend hours and hours acting out my personal imaginations when I wasn't in a book, like being a famous "Riverdancer" as I danced to my Celtic Music in circles in my room. Being an only child ensured I wasn't interrupted or bothered.

But the best of all during these High School Years was writing novels. Instead of listening to a history lesson I'd be writing the 7th Chapter to my latest novel. Two weeks later I'd have a new idea and relate to my friends the new plot. Sometimes during lunch I'd get them to chime in on plot ideas. My closest friends can attest to my obsession. Sure I flunked a few classes but it was worth it at the time to finish that part of the book. Plus there was always Summer School. By the time I finished 12th grade I had 20 yes TWENTY unfinished books in various stages of completion. Yes I am a procrastinator with Attention Deficit Disorder. But I'm a writer!

So as I met my future husband and had to deal with a suddenly difficult life. My solace was writing and reading. I read so many books while unemployed that I could predict (correctly) the entire plot by the end of the first chapter. It got so bad I lost the interest to read and write anymore. I couldn't enjoy the books when I could predict it all. Just then luckily I was too busy working at the movie theater to worry about time to read. But for me Movies are like Books with free pictures. I even used to ditch school on Fridays to catch the latest Picture Book ;) that was released. I never stopped having my dual reality of imaginations during real life but it got harder and harder to find the right plots to match my life. I made a rule though that no matter how difficult Praying 5 times a day got for me I'd never "pretend" to Pray or be a Muslim Character. Islam is always been the one thing I don't use in imagining. Because Allah is real and Islam is not something to play with.
After I got married and moved to Lebanon I spent much of my time cooped up with myself as is my habit and made more imaginings and I had suddenly a lot of free time to write but social obligations to hang out with the family caused me strife with time management. Until my younger sister in law H, showed an interest in my stories and in making her own poems and story ideas. Such a special bond we share. She was my happiness in those early days when few spoke English and understood my aloofness. Now I'm able to share books and stories with her easily and she's my sounding board for everything I write. When I had the idea to write with Arab characters for the first time she was right there helping me with names and themes. To her I owe much. While pregnant with my daughter I had ages of free time to write and finally I finished my rough draft to my book I'd been working on since high school. I finally got to write "THE END". It's been 4.6 years since I wrote THE END and still haven't had time to finish typing it into the computer and getting it polished to send off and of course it's a Romance Novel so it's unIslamic and I have that whole debate still going in my head of if I morally SHOULD send it off...
Now I have over 50 books in various stages of writing (one completed!) about 12 of those Islamic, and I've made my dream to be a Writer. This was how I got to this point of finally opening a blog to find people "just like me". Muslims who Dream to Write.

6:52 AM

Bury the Dollies

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Sad News
Our Hamster Julie Died.

She was a good little Hamster and we had lots of fun with her. But suddenly she stopped eating and then died. I could have easily got rid of the body before the kids found out but as I home school and know every chance to teach an important lesson is a chance to take. I waited for the best time to approach the subject. I've talked to my 4 year old daughter many times about death and about what happens to us in the Afterlife but this was the first real time she's had to deal with something close to her dying. This was the perfect time to teach her about Islamic Burials. Sure we don't have to bury animals as we bury people and pray on them or such but I felt this was a small way for her to understand it if she needs to deal with it in the unknown future.
I took her hand and told her calmly that I'm sorry but Julie has died. I showed her immediately the dead body and she could see she wasn't moving. Confusion and Disbelief struck her face as she went to the cage to check to make sure I wasn't lying. She came back to me looking sad. "Yes, Julie's gone" I told her again. "But we are going to do something for her because she was a such a good Muslim Hamster." I took a toy shovel, three tissues, and the body and took them to our garden. In a small area I had her kneel next to me.
"When people die we put their bodies in the ground to protect them. We don't burn them or throw them away. We respect them because Allah created them. So let's dig a hole for her." I said and I began digging and then let my daughter take over the digging until it was deep enough. (I didn't get technical about the depth). Our cat Summer followed us and tried to help dig (or get the body, not really sure there). Finally I took the body out of her food dish where she died and rolled it onto the tissue.
"We wrap the body in cloth but Julie is small we'll use tissues." So I rolled the edges carefully then once the body was covered I let her continue to roll it in the three tissues. We twisted the ends as I've seen done before. Then we both placed her in the hole. As we pushed the dirt in we recited Qur'an: Al Fatiha. Once the hole was covered I found a small stick and placed it upright as a grave marker. Later I had to add a marble slab (random piece of marble) because Summer tried to dig it up.... We laughed this was probably the only Hamster in the world with a Marble Headstone. We went inside and I warned my Husband that she might be a little death obsessed for a week after learning so much. Indeed she was. Not a few minutes later she was carefully trying to wrap her dollies in tissues. I told her they were bigger and gave her a full sized plain white hijab to use. I left her to play "Burial" by herself. Soon though she came to me wanting help. So I used this chance to explain more that for people we pray a special prayer for them saying AllahuAkbar four times standing without bowing. We wash and wrap them and carry them saying du'a and Qur'an for them. Then bury them facing the Kabaa. She liked doing this procession so many times. So I left her to it after a while but then later she came up to me, "Mommy, come, we need to bury the little girls." Yes it was a little creepy to hear. "Dollies, honey, say bury the dollies." I gently corrected. "Yes, let's go bury the dollies" She said solemnly. So I played along. I went and saw three dollies laying on the carpet and cried "Oh what happened to them!"
"They died." Daughter said sadly. So we commenced the Burial Rites. After the three were in their grave and we planted palm leaves over them to give them more blessings in the grave I told her gently, "Honey, that is enough of burring dollies okay. You know Allah doesn't just take people, He also lets them be born too!" I shoved the three buried dollies in their shroud up my shirt and pretended to be pregnant again. Daughter swooped in to quickly deliver them as they were born. "See now they are alive. They will grow old and then die. Then one day far from now Allah will bring them back to life, because it's Easy for Allah. Now go feed the dollies and take care of them." I said and left her to play with her dolls. She hasn't buried anything since. A lesson well learned.
PS: I've updated my re-comments all the way back to Shalom, sorry sorry sorry I wasn't able to comment earlier. I'm trying to keep up with everything. So if you commetned a while back you can re-check.

3:18 AM

Deadly Serious

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

This beautiful species of Mosquito is responsible for the topic of my post today; and the reason I haven't been posting...

Her name is Anopheles albimanus and she carries among other few diseases mostly Malaria. This beautiful sounding word that unlike other scary diseases is easy to pronounce and rolls off one's tongue almost Melodiously. Unless you've seen someone suffering from it.

It starts off mellow like the flu with body aches and a fever. Ah just a flu, one would say preparing themselves to feel like crud for a week or so. But what becomes odd is the lack of runny nose, coughing, sneezing one associates with flu or cold. At the same time one notes these missing symptoms one's fever rises dramatically and as it rises a sudden onset of shaking chills sets in for an hour. After a person finally gets rid of the shaking they sweat profusely. If they've been smart enough to get some Paracetamol (Tylenol, panadol) into their system their fever will lessen. Yet suddenly 18-24 hours later the same thing will happen day after painful day.

Now this Malaria normally happens if you have recently traveled to a Malaria Infested Zone (which can be anywhere in the world beside cold places) Here is a Map:

What happens is this amazing Mosquito above bites someone infected with Malaria. She reproduces with this infected blood. Her hundreds of little babies have Malaria in their spit basically. As they puncture another person to drink they spread Malaria to that person. A week later bam flu symptoms and fever with chills.

The protozoa parasite goes through the blood stream to the Liver where she has fun attaching herself to red blood cells. As they are expelled from the liver the reproductive cycle is happening and as the babies mature they explode out from the blood cell (en mass) AND ATTACK EVERY NEARBY RED BLOOD CELL! This is what causes the cycles of fever and shaking when suddenly your immune system has to attack a swarm of exploding baby protozoa Malaria.

In the beginning of November my brother in law was planning to go for a visit back to Beirut, Lebanon to see his family. He stopped by our house to have a long chat about life with his brother (my husband). They sat out in our garden for hours that night. Husband kept telling me to join them but I was tired and was busy trying to get the kids in bed. So they sat and had a merry chat. A few days later we took him to the Airport and he went to Lebanon. A week later my husband started feeling flu-ish. He ignored it and kept working. But slowly he wasn't getting enough sleep and feeling weaker and weaker. Finally we go to Noor Hospital. The doc prescribes him antibiotics and Panadol (Tylenol) after doing a simple blood scan. I spend lots of time and energy ensuring Husband rests and takes his meds on time. I cook a fabulous Chicken Soup just as a good wife should. But it's not enough. The shaking got worse, the fever go worse, the pain became unbearable. We talk to family in Beirut and his brother is suffering the same weird symptoms and odd fevers. To Oasis Hospital! Husband orders. I get the kids ready preparing myself for another long wait and results of more expensive meds to buy. We wait ages like all UAE Clinics to see the doc then finally he goes in while I go to the machine for more snacks to appease the children. I take a walk around to help the kids expend energy then go back to the Clinic. I look around doorways searching for my husband, finally he's in the last room, on an I.V. (!!!) I of course was worried and fussed over him. He was in extreme pain while they drew blood and waited HOURS for the results. The doc had ordered like 15 different tests. At 12AM finally they came back.
"Where have you been traveling to?" Dr. asked me.
"No where. We've been here for 2 years now." I replied confused.
"Where's your husband from?" Dr. nodding and writing as we walk to Husb's room.
"And you?"
"Hmmm. Well then how did he get Malaria?" Dr. asks and enters the room leaving me literally rooted to the floor in the hallway. How indeed!
I enter as Dr. is telling the news to Husband. We are all perplexed by this. Doc asks Husb the same questions but still gets no clues. At first I think it's the workers at my husband's job who could have infected him because they come from everywhere, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India etc...
"Your brother is feeling the same as you though. He must have it too?" I tell the doc and husband. Doctor looks even more confused.
"Has he traveled?" "No." "Where do you work?" "In South Al-Ain." "They work near each other but not close enough for a Mosquito to bite them both." "Where do you live?" "We live near Al-Ain Mall while he lives on the other side of the city." I explain to the doc questions. Finally I go to his office to answer more questions while he writes a report for the Government about a case of Malaria. They take my number so I expect to hear from someone about this. They give my husband Quinine Pills and a few others and tell us come back in 7 days. Well it's been 4 days so far but these 4 days have felt sooo long. No one has contacted us from the govt. I've researched my heart out about everything having to do with mosquitos and Malaria. It's some scary scary stuff believe me. It's says every 30 seconds a child dies from this disease. Sweating and shaking itself to death. Ya Allah. Of course when we got home from the doc we turn on out phone to find a message from my other bro in law in Beirut, saying our Bro has Malaria and we should go the Doctor for diagnosis. Which was funny because that's the same message I was about to send him. A few days later Bro in law said to us that he's not coming back to UAE. The family wants us to say the same. So now we are in a quandary as to what we should do. Was this an isolated incidence where two brothers got bit at the same time in our garden? Or is it the beginning of a mass outbreak here in Al-Ain? After all it says this female Mosquito can lay up to 3000 eggs in her short lifetime. That's 3000 mosquitoes carrying Malaria searching for victims....
Now many of you are sleeping in your warm beds at night lazily swatting a random buzzing in your ear hoping you hit it. Not me, not anymore. My house is armed to the teeth.
We went out immediately and bought Insecticide Spray for Mosquitoes and fumigated our house while we stayed safely in the car. After ventilating the house we also got small burners called Vape and my wonderful friend gave us a Buzzing Electric Light to Fry the bugs if they try to get near us. We sealed every entrance to our house tightly and sprayed it for good measure.
Now we are sitting cooped up in our house wondering if it is safe to go out. My garden where the alleged crime happened is a off limits place for now. Though my neighbors (whom I warned) continue to sit out and have BBQs and let their daughter frolic, haven't seemed to have any problems. Tomorrow we are going back to the doctors to question more about if this is isolated or not. I don't think I can live like this always on edge always feeling cooped up in a semi-quarantine state to prevent myself and my precious children from catching Malaria. I want to run away fast to Canada or some freezing northern European country where the Mosquitoes are not going to. I've lived my life oblivious to major infectious diseases thanks to Allah for letting me be born in a cleaner country than others, but now the veils have been lifted and my eyes are wide open to the risk. If anyone out there knows anything about malaria and UAE let me know. So far I found that UAE is supposed to be a Malaria-Free Zone (HAHAHA yeah right) but if so how did this happen then?!?! And if anyone knows how I can move swiftly to Canada or Northern Europe I'd be grateful the advice. I want you all out there to take the steps to protect your families because these diseases are everywhere and with the rate of people shifting around the world these days no where is 100% safe. Malaria can be Deadly Serious!

11:59 AM

Stars in My Eyes

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

As a young teen I was obsessed with the stars. I loved to go out and stare at them and think about them for hours. I knew all the main constellations like the back of my hand. My parents even got me a cool telescope to use where I used to stare at the moon up close and personal. At this time I was hoping to become an Astronomer. A person who studies the stars. Sadly through bad high school planning by the school they messed up my schedule needed to gain enough credits in the science and math to become such a person. So I gave up that dream but I never stop looking at the stars.
I used to be Atheist before becoming Muslim so when I looked at these bright spots in the sky I'd think how amazing it was that Random Evolution/Big Bang could cause such beauty. My biggest question I wish could be answered before I die is:

What is beyond the edge of the Universe?

Scientist agree there is an edge and right now it is expanding (some believe soon it will re-contract sending time backwards or haywire). But so far I haven't' heard any theories to what is beyond that. A great black nothingness? A great whiteness? Nothing? Something? WHAT!!!!
It just boggles the mind to not even be able to imagine something.
Now that I am Muslim i see the stars very differently. I see the beauty Allah created. I see the patterns of how things are grouped and look out there reflect the same on Earth pointing to ONE creator. When I look at the beauty of a galaxy filled with worlds unseen I know Allah has Knowledge of what they contain. They aren't' fully a question mark anymore. Maybe HE will let us know about it. Maybe He wont. But the knowledge does exist and that is comforting.
The same goes with MY QUESTION. What is beyond the edge of the Universe?
Now I know there is an answer. Allah KNOWS. Perhaps someday I will get the chance to ask Him insha'Allah in Jannah. But one day my question will be answered. Now the question doesn't tear at my brain fruitlessly. As for what it looks like I don't let that tear at me too. Because not being able to know the form of Allah yet knowing He exists, is in my heart. So I have faith that eventually the questions will be answered. Eventually your questions will be answered too. But only if you have patience and believe.

9:18 AM

Weekends! Or is it?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Ah the weekend! A time to relax! A time to work on the home to-do list! A time to hurry up because according to some country's schedules you might only get one day!

The weekends on Saturday and Sunday were my favorite days of the week because I'd get to hang out with family or friends and usually visit my grandparents and go out for dinner. It was fabulous being able to stay up later on Friday night and again on Saturday night since you could sleep in the next morning. The dreaded early to bed Sunday though was disappointing for me. I'd wait impatiently all week for beautiful Friday to come. Friday's are always exciting. The last day you have to take everyone's crap in school or at work or anywhere. The day before you get a break was just as fun as the days where you were on your break. Plans were quickly made about the evening's activities.

Later after school finished my weekends were spent visiting my fiance and then later looking for jobs. An interesting thing happened though to ease my transition of what i viewed as weekends. I got a job at a movie theater and their busiest times were the weekends so weekends meant more work (longer hours) and weekdays meant I could relax more. My day off was usually a Tuesday or Wednesday. And I only got one day off (gotta keep hours up to pay rent).

Soon thereafter I was able to finally go to Lebanon where I had to get used to a whole new schedule. The Lebanese tend to retreat from the humidity of Beirut to their cool mountains for the summer months. I had just gotten there at the beginning of July so I figured we had only one month in the mountains until my younger sis in law's school started. I got way thrown off because their schools don't start until the middle of September. It felt like a super long summer vacation. Once we were living back in Beirut I had to get used to another change of schedule. On Fridays and Sundays were weekends. That means on Friday everyone gets off and closes for Jummah Prayer then most businesses open again but schools stay closed. Then Saturday everyone has to go back to their places of tedium until Sunday when they get another day off. Most Fridays were spent around town while saving Sundays for family get together and visiting out of town.
Next came U.A.E. where depending on the company and city is a different weekend schedule. Pretty much EVERYONE gets Friday off here for prayers. Friday (Jummah) being the Muslims' weekly holiday. Much like Sunday's Church day or Saturday's Sabbath day. Then depending on individual work places and ratio of christian workers, many places give Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday off in conjunction to Friday.
Schools get Fri, Sat off though. So for me when Sunday rolls around I still feel like it's a weekend though its a workday. And come Thursday I suddenly get excited that it's "Friday night" and tomorrow there is no work. But for me personally I only get a one day weekend though all in total it feels like a four day weekend sometimes. But going out means really crowded places since many people only get one day like me.
So what's your weekend like?

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