Doing Feminism: on self love and raising a feminist niece

Here’s how a conversation between me and 5-year-old Kashmala, my niece, went a few weeks ago.


Kashmala ❤

Kashmala, as we were face-timing: Let’s watch Youtube songs! Can you pleeeeeeeeeeeeease put on that song “Beautiful”? It’s my faaaaaaveeerite!

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Goodbye, 2014!! You were terrible to me.

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Happy 2015! May it bring us all peace, happiness, and joy — and while I’m at it, lemme also pray for world peace, meh — aameen!

I’ve never been as anxious for a year to be over as I was for 2014. It was the most miserable, most stressful year of my life, and I pray no one ever go through such a year, ever. But I remain hopeful. No use being anxious about any possible bad things that’ll be taking place this year.

10408091_797949656907440_4294335441946925166_nI started it off hopeful, though. When 12:00 was striking, I had just gotten out of the theater after having watched Frozen, a move I interpreted as one that’ll be indicative of lots of happy surprises for the new year (I wrote about “Frozen” and the new year and all over at the old blog; click here if interested). Surprises came, all right, but they weren’t happy at all. The year started well the first couple of weeks, maybe even all of January, but bad things started coming in mid-February. There was hell for several months afterwards related to February, and then summer in Oman happened where I (sort of) got in trouble with the U.S. State Department for speaking my mind in a country where such is a crime (the State Dept was like, “Yo, you can’t do that! Let’s try to get you out of there before the Omani government finds out you did that!” So they meant well, kind of. Long story, and I have no intentions of discussing it in a public blog). Then a whole bunch of bad things happened in August, September, and it’s been downhill from there till mid-December. Even for the rest of the world, all the terrorism that’s taken place – in Pakistan (December 16, 2014 #NeverForget!), in the U.S. (all the police terrorism that’s been taking place especially against black people – black men AND women), in Australia, in Ukraine… the flights that went missing and were recovered with horrifying news for the passengers’ and crews’ loved ones…. and so on.

Sure, plenty of goodness took place in 2014, too, for me personally and for the world, at large: I’ve made some awesome new friends, I’ve accomplished a few more things (hamdallah), and so on. As for the world, Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize and rocked the world! But overall … overall, y’all, it’s been a painful one. But let’s not think about negative stuff 🙂 Let’s be positive! Let’s be hopeful!

In thinking about the trying months that accompanied 2014 and in being hopeful for 2015 despite it all, it occurred to me that perhaps we put too much pressure on the concept of a “new year.” I won’t deny that this concept exists, because it does, but but but but … what if shit happens to us because it just does? Sure, when lots of shit happens in the same year, we decide that it wasn’t the year we’d hoped for, so that’s where the whole “this year” comes in, but we know, as humans, that shit is going to happen… and yet, we are disappointed when a certain kind of shit happens. Exactly what kind of shit are we expecting? Good shit? So, yeah, shit’s gonna happen (this is a reminder to myself), qrratugak, BUT let’s hope it’s much, MUCH better shit than last year’s one.

So … be good, people! May this new year be better than 2014! Aameen.

Wise words from 5-year-old Kashmala

The Kashmala – I THINK in Apr 2013?

For the past several months, I’ve been going through some shit. That includes losing people/friends that I regret losing (no, don’t be like, “Well, they weren’t worth your friendship in the first place if they had to choose to get out of your life,” or, “Oh, well – their loss!” No, it’s their loss, maybe, but it’s my loss, too, and I’m not okay with that), and some other stuff. I share these things with Kashmala because I love her opinions, I love her reminders to me that “It’s okay, I’m here for you. You want me to do your make-up? Let me do your make-up and then you’ll feel sooooo good.” I share stories and anecdotes of my friends with Kashmala, and she knows the names of some of my closest friends and has even talked with some of them through Skype, Whatsapp, gchat, Facebook, etc. She’s loveable, and she’s easy to talk to and have fun with.

So, as I lose people that Kashmala has come to know about or interacted with before, she goes, “I hate her; don’t ever, ever talk to her again” (I love that she takes my side – loyalty FTW, ai). I told her of two people I’d briefly been close to this summer in Oman who stopped talking to me without at all communicating their feelings to me about whatever problem we were having and who denied any tension when I went up to try to talk to them about it; I told her about this other friend I lost whom she adored; she saw pictures of my friends on FB who are no longer in my life, and I told her that, na, I didn’t know them anymore, etc., etc. And finally came her wise words:

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What exactly does “be yourself, be YOU” mean?

I’m doing a whole bunch of thinking about myself lately, so expect more of this kind of blogs. I try to keep away from sharing personal reflections in my blog, but to hell with it all now; I’ll write about whatever I want and whatever needs to be said. This particular matter is about what exactly “be yourself, be you” (sometimes “Girrrl, be you, do you!” I like both, whatevz) actually mean.

Everyone tells us to be ourselves. (Hell, even this patriarchal society that’s the bane of us women tells us to be yourselves – but then it goes around and says, “No, not that way.”)  But for once, I’m not going to talk about the shitty society telling us lieslies that society tells us (women) about how to be and how not to be. I’m talking about when our closest friends, our loving family members, our mentors advise us kindly not to worry about what everyone else thinks and says but to just be ourselves and just be happy with who we are.

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Migrating through virtual spaces: what changing blogging platform feels like

So far, I’m not feeling at home here at WordPress. I suppose that’s because home will Sad Minniealways be home and nothing can replace the one place that helped make us what we are (although, honestly, my homeland, Swat, where I was born and raised half of my life, doesn’t feel like home to me … at least these days). I feel like I’m an immigrant all over again, but this time in a virtual space. It feels strange writing a post, trying to understand all the options and settings here, redirecting links from the older blog to this one … it’s a lot of work, it’s not very exciting, and it doesn’t feel homely. But I have to remember that I’ve moved here for my readers’ sake, so the little sacrifices, which are very much temporary, are totally worth it.

It just brings back too many bad memories of when my family and I first migrated to the U.S. and how strange and foreign we felt in our new home.  The same way I now feel when I visit Pakistan (and hence, no, absolutely no plans of ever living there, but frequent visits, I can look forward to). I hate feeling like this. I’m not a stranger to blogging, and nothing should have enough power to make me feel like that. It’s a sucky feeling, almost makes me unexcited about blogging – that’s not acceptable, either, ’cause I’m always excited about blogging. Always.

But despite WordPress’s superiority to Blogger in many ways, there are a few major and important problems–like with writing drafts that don’t always get saved automatically and, OH MY GOD GET THIS, there’s no way to customize your font size and style!! WordPress thinks it knows what’s best for us, and so once we choose a theme, an outer design for the blog, we’re stuck with ALL it comes with, including the default font sizes and types and colors and whatnot; and you’ve to install some apps to have the option to edit your own fonts. (So, yeah, I did install an app for it, but it didn’t work. And I’m too lazy now to figure out what’s wrong. It shouldn’t be that much work!) That’s just unacceptable. Blogger knows better than to subject its readers to its own preferences! But the draft issue is killing me. Like I’d written a draft of this email, but it somehow didn’t get saved and I had to start all over again. That doesn’t help when I’m trying to convert this place into a nice home for my qrrate. It scares and worries me to death that posts might not always be saved automatically while they’re being written because I’m not used to clicking “save as draft” after every few sentences while writing a blog post! Blogger used to just save automatically and you could come back whenever you wanted and work on it for however long you want. I still have drafts from several years ago in Blogger…. yeah, not sure when I’m supposed to sit down and actually complete them. Such great ideas, too. #ToutesLesSighs (this means “lots of sighs”).

That’s all for now, I suppose. Just some random thoughts on what it’s like migrating through and feeling foreign in virtual spaces.