Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Laylat-ul Qadr (or The Night of Power): Meaning and Prayers

Meaning

The last 10 days of Ramadan are particularly full of ibadat (or prayer). Within these days lie what is known as The Night of Power, or Laylat-ul Qadr. It is believed that on the Night of Power, the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him). On this night, it’s also believed that angels come down to earth on every errand for Allah, and the blessings received are those as if you had prayed for a thousand nights.

There is an entire Surah in the Quran about this night (Surah Al Qadr, #97):

“We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power.

“And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?

“The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

“Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:

“Peace!…This until the rise of morn!” (Surah 97:1-5)

 

The importance of this night is also referenced in Hadith:

“Whoever establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not to show off) then all his past sins will be forgiven.” Hadith, Bukhari Vol 1, Book 2:34

 

The specific date of this night was never revealed, though many observe this night on the odd days during the end of Ramadan* (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and/or 29th nights, perhaps even others). The 27th night of Ramadan is widely believed to be the Night of Power, and so is considered to be especially important for ibadat.

 

*NOTE 1: For those unaware, the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar (not the Gregorian one with months January-December). This is why Ramadan (the 9th month on the Islamic calendar) shifts and has no set start date every year on a Gregorian calendar. So the Night of Power may exist on an odd day in the Islamic calendar.

*NOTE 2: The month of Ramadan actually starts after sunset the day before the first day of fasting. For example, for 2014, my first day of fasting was Sunday, June 29th, but the first night of Ramadan was Saturday, June 28th. So when counting the nights of Ramadan, you must take this into consideration. For example, the 27th night of Ramadan occurs on the 26th day of fasting.

 

Ramadan Weeks 3-4: Prayers

For my non-Muslims blog readers, you may not understand the descriptions/recitations below. I will not go into a detailed description of salat (or Islamic prayer) here, though you can find more detailed descriptions from reputable sources online and in books.

I have listed particular prayers you can do for the Night of Power below. I have used as reference my mother, books she owns on prayers to say these nights during Ramadan, and Islamic Academy (which I will refer to as IA from here on out). IA referenced those same prayers though with slight differences, so you may see “OR” at various points because I list both sources. These are just the prayers and guidelines I have found; if you have different prayers for these nights listed, please comment below or contact me. Thank you to my mother and IA for the references.

Some general prayers:

  • In any night of Ramadan, after taraweeh, recite Surah Qadr seven (7) times. Allah Willing (Insha’Allah), the one who does so, will be saved from all troubles and afflictions.
  • On the Night of Power, or even on a Friday, recite Salat-Ul-Tasbih. Click here for IA’s instructions to perform Salat-ul-Tasbih. (Note: I have performed this with my mother, though I did not have a chance to confirm the contents of the IA website with her).

 

Night-specific prayers:

Each of the below nights has multiple prayers you should try to do or Quranic verses you should try to recite/read. The prayers listed below are all nafl (or optional) prayers that should be recited after completing Isha prayers (which are the last prayers of each day) on the night in question.

 

21st Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas once (1).
    • After completion of salat (namaz), recite Durood Sharif seventy (70) times. IA has a list of Durood here.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah (Allah Willing), angels will pray for forgiveness for that person.
  2. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite anyAstaghfar seventy (70) times. IA suggests the following:
      1. “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
      2. “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  3. Recite Surah Qadr twenty-one (21) times.

 

23rd Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite any Durood Sharif seventy (70) times.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  2. Pray eight (8)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas once (1).
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaTamjeed seventy (70) times.
      1. NOTE: You can find the Kalimas on Wikipedia or on IA. Here is the phonetic recitation of the Kalima in Arabic, as supplied by IA:
      2. Kalima Tamjeed: “Subhan Allahi Wal Hamdu Lillahi Wa La ilaaha illal laho Walla Hu Akbar. Wala Haowla Wala Quwwata illa Billa Hil Aliyil Azeem”.
  3. After recitingKalimaTamjeed, pray for forgiveness of sins.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, for forgiveness of sins.
  4. Recite Surah Ya Sin once (1) and Surah Rahman once (1).

 

25th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas five (5) times.
    • After completion of this salat, recite theKalimaTayyibah one hundred (100) times.
      1. Kalima Tayyab (per IA): “Laa ilaaha illal Laho Mohammadur Rasoolullah”.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, Allah will give them unlimited sawab (good Deeds).
  2. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite any Astaghfar seventy (70) times OR KalimaShahadat seventy (70) times.
      1. Astaghfar (per IA):
        • “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
        • “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”
      2. Kalima Shahadat (per IA): “Ashadu Anlaa ilaaha illal Lahu Wa Ash Hadu Anna Mohammadan Abduhu Wa Rasoolohu”
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, for pardoning of sins.
  3. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at once).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas fifteen (15) times.
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaShahadat seventy (70) times.
      • Kalima Shaadat (per IA): “Ashadu Anlaa ilaaha illal Lahu Wa Ash Hadu Anna Mohammadan Abduhu Wa Rasoolohu”.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from the punishment of the grave.
  4. Recite SurahDukhan once (1).
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from the punishment of the grave.
  5. Recite SurahFath seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, fulfillment of desires and wishes.

 

27th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray two (2)naflrakats (all at once).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times, and Surah Ikhlas seven (7) OR twenty-seven (27) times.
    • After completion of salat, pray for the forgiveness of sins.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, forgiveness of previous sins.
  2. Pray twelve (12)naflrakats (4 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1), and Surah Ikhlas seven (7) OR fifteen (15) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite anyAstaghfar seventy (70) times.
      1. Astaghfar (per IA):
        1. “Allah Hummagh Fir Li Wa Tub A’laiyya Inna Ka Innta Tawwabur Raheem” OR
        2. “Astaghfirullah Rabbi Min Kulli Zambiyon Wa Atoobu ilaiyh”.
  3. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Takathur once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • Benefit: Insha’Allah, saved from hardship at the time of death, and freed from the punishment of the grave.
  4. Pray two (2)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Ikhlas seven (7) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite this seventy (70) times:
      • “Astaghfirul laa hal azeemil lazee laa ilaaha illa huw al haiy yul qayyoomu wa atoobu ilahh”.
    • Benefit: Before the person gets up from the praying area, insh’Allah they and their parents will receive pardons, and Allah Almighty will command the angels to adorn the Paradise for them.
  5. Pray two (2)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah al Inshirah once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Surah Qadr eleven (11) OR twenty-seven (27) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, for unlimited sawab of Ibadat.
  6. Pray four (4)naflrakat (all at one time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr three (3) times, and Surah Ikhlas eleven (11) OR fifty (50) times.
    • After completion of salat, reciteKalimaTamjeed insajdah (prostration position ofnamaz):
      • Kalima Tamjeed (per IA): “Subhan Allahi Wal Hamdu Lillahi Wa La ilaaha illal laho Walla Hu Akbar. Wala Haowla Wala Quwwata illa Billa Hil Aliyil Azeem”.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, fulfillment of desires and wishes.
  7. Recite Surah alMulk seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, freedom from punishment.

 

29th Night of Ramadan

  1. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In every rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas three (3) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Surah al Inshirah eleven (11) OR seventy (70) times.
  2. Pray four (4)naflrakats (2 at a time).
    • In each rakat, after Surah Fatihah, recite Surah Qadr once (1) and Surah Ikhlas five (5) times.
    • After completion of salat, recite Durood Sharif twenty-five (25) OR one hundred (100) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah, effective for forgiveness of sins.
  3. Recite Surah Waqi’ah three (3) OR seven (7) times.
    • Benefit: Insh’Allah for increase in Rizq.

 

 

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Ye of Little Faith

So last night I had coffee with a prospective suitor. He was attractive, has a good job (as a doctor in the dental field), comes from a good family (supposedly). For some people (even in my own family) they would say that’s enough.

But he thinks praying is useless.

And that’s not enough for me.

When we first sat down to coffee, conversation flowed easily. We talked easily about a range of different topics. He cursed a lot, but I thought ‘There are worse traits to have.’ He mentioned how he teased someone because they were vegan and someone else for something else (I’ll not bore you with the specifics, but I think he was just plain cruel. From his telling of these stories, he was happy that he had hurt someone else’s feelings.) So, I thought, ‘Huh. Maybe I was wrong about him.’ He mentioned how he liked to go to bars and drink and pick-up girls in college, and I thought, ‘Maybe I was really wrong about him.’

But then we got on the topic of faith and spirituality. And that’s where it really fell apart.

He basically said that, as a scientist, there’s no proof of God and there’s no proof that prayer works. And, if we think it does work, it’s basically in our minds.

What. The. Frak.

This is not the first time I’ve run across someone who doesn’t believe in prayer (and, just to clarify, he never outright said that he didn’t believe in God, just that there’s no proof of Him). But he was very condescending and disparaging when he spoke to me. And he recognized it. He flat out said, “I know I’m being disparaging, but I’m a scientist, I can’t help it.”

And that’s a bullshit cop-out if I ever heard one.

I know PLENTY of scientists. Doctors, even, who still believe in the power of prayer, and have faith. And they don’t talk to me like I’m an asshole. Or treat me like one.

I asked him if he prayed. He said he did. I asked him if he felt anything when he prayed. He said that he didn’t; he only prayed because he was obligated to, not because he thought it would do anything.

I honestly welcome open discourse. I do. If you have another opinion, let’s discuss it like adults and agree to disagree, if it comes to that. But when you disparage someone, you are very clearly telling them that you don’t respect them, you don’t respect their beliefs, and you think the only right opinion is yours (which he also said, by the way. He said I was wrong and he was right, and that was the last word on the subject).

And, even with the anger at being dismissed over my faith, I felt pity for him. I felt really sad that he would never know the peace of prayer.

Now, I was not always so, consistent shall we say, with prayers and such. When I was younger, I sometimes felt that I didn’t know why I was praying and I felt it was an obligation that I needed to fulfil.

But then I went through some serious shit in my life. There was a lot going on that no one knew about, that they still don’t know about, and, in some cases, wouldn’t care to know about now either. And bad experiences change you. Adversity changes you. And going through those experiences made me a more faithful person when, sometimes, they do just the opposite. I learned how to pray. And I don’t just mean the physical movements. I mean the words. I learned how to pray for the things I wanted in my heart and soul, things I barely mentioned even to myself. Things I thought I may never have or even deserve to have. And I’m still learning.

I still don’t have an ‘easy’ life as some might call it. I still struggle with things (besides the obvious search for a decent man to marry), but I still pray. I still believe in the power of prayer. I have seen it work in my own life.

What some people, like Dr. Disparaging here, don’t realize is, that when you pray, sometimes you don’t get what you prayed for; sometimes you get something better. You just need to wait for it.

I do feel sorry for him. If he’s not open to even the opinions of others, then he’s not open to the belief in prayer, or God, or maybe even love. He missing something amazing in his life, and he doesn’t even realize it. Maybe he’s afraid of it; why else would you verbally attack someone for what they believe if you weren’t afraid of it or ignorant of it yourself?

And, in the end, I deserve better than someone who would be cruel to me, or to my children. I deserve better. Some might say that I’m getting too old to be picky, but I just can’t be with someone who would belittle me every time I prayed. And I don’t want my kids growing up in that environment, either.

And now I know that I was wrong about him. So, (sigh) another one bites the dust.

But I’ll persevere. I BELIEVE that there is someone out there for me. Someone who will treat me with respect and kindness, even when we don’t get along. Who will be a good father for my children, and a good son-in-law to my parents.

I believe. And I have faith that my wedding day will come. Please pray for me.

Thank you!

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I Am Not a Spinster (Wikipedia Says So)

Hello, readers!

It has been a long time since I last posted. So much has been going on and life often gets in the way (births, deaths, sickness, and happiness, too). So, I thought I’d start with a bit of catching up.

I shockingly realize my last big post was around the New Year. Well, at that time, I did have a reason for holding back; I had met a new man and things had been progressing well.

I say ‘had’ because (SPOILER ALERT!) after I realized he was a lying, controlling asshole, my family and I decided it was best to part ways. Here’s how the latest story goes.

We met online through one of the Muslim matrimonial websites. His name was a typical Shia name (I’m Sunni), but he said he was Sunni (probably a little too quickly in retrospect). Our first meeting was at a coffee shop, and it went pretty well. He called me the next day to ask if we could meet again, for dinner this time. I took that as a good sign. (In case you’re wondering, my parents were aware of my meeting him from the first time we made contact through the website, and knew of the other times we met.)

Dinner also went well. We had some good conversations, but I could tell that he was obsessive in some respects. I’m a little OCD myself, and I thought ‘no one’s perfect’, not even me, so I let it slide. He didn’t ask me a whole lot about myself, but I’ve found that guys like to talk about themselves. But then that movie, He’s Just Not That Into You, kept floating through my mind. The movie (I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on that) states that if a guy’s interested in you, he’ll let you know it.  Hmmm.

From there we progressed to a day outing together, wandering museums. If you’re a previous reader, you know that I have done this with previous gentlemen callers. You can find something for everyone to enjoy, and it gives you a sense of how patient they are, how they interact in public, how respectful they are. (P.S. – I was dressed in a super cute sweater, jeans, and boots, though nothing designer; this will be relevant later).

After the museum trip, my parents preferred we only talk on the phone (not meet again). I was fine with that. He wasn’t. Our mothers had spoken to each other at this point (!) so his mom called my mom to complain ask her to permit the boy and I meeting. My mom said okay, just a few more times. We also arranged for the families to meet in December.

So the boy and I went out another time or two. It was fine, but I did start getting the sense that something was slightly off about him. He liked everything just so, and didn’t like deviation. He really liked to be in control. He also had switched jobs a few times in the last few years and was planning to again because his newest job wasn’t “working for him”. Hmmm.

So our families met in December. We went out to dinner. Twice. They insisted on paying the first time, though my father took the check initially. Then the second time, when they knew my father would be paying, they invited more people and ordered more food than would be normal (this perturbed me quite a bit). In any case, it went okay. And I was dressed super cute both times (which is very relevant – stay tuned). Afterwards, I spoke to my father, who spent time with the boy during both dinners. He also had some reservations, and thought the boy was holding something back. My father did get him to admit that he LIED about his education. The resume and information he had sent us had some degrees and certifications listed that he never received (nor was he in the process of pursuing). Hmmm.

After the family dinners, I get a call from him asking if we can meet for coffee. (FYI – at this point his family had not mentioned an engagement or marriage at all.) He specifically asks me to wear one of the dresses I wore to the family dinner to coffee. Midday coffee. I ask him why, and he responds with “because I’m asking you to”. I tell him it’s very inappropriate to wear an evening-ish dress during the day, but he asks me to “just wear it”. I talk it over with my mum, who says to just indulge him this time and see what he wants. So I wear it. With a long black coat that covers it while I’m walking around (it was winter – totally acceptable winter wear. Ahem.)

I show up and he looks at me very seriously and tells me there is one thing that is very important to him that his future wife must do.

I ask him what that is.

He said, she has to dress well.

I sat there trying to hold back a laugh. Of all the things that are important in this world, that’s the most important to him? More important that caring for his parents, or being a good mother? I didn’t say that, though.

He started going on about how he is always impeccably dressed, and how he likes to set a standard for dressing well. And he expects his wife to do the same. He brings his “A-game” and he expects his wife to bring it, too. And, yes, he actually used the phrase “A-game”. He also went on to tell me that he even asks his mother to change when he feels she’s not bringing her “A-game”. I should mention that his mother was ill and recently hospitalized, and he still had her change before our family dinners. He said he spends at least an hour getting ready in the morning, and he would expect me, too, as well.

I tell him, I dress appropriately for occasions. If I’m going to spend the day with my niece, for example, I don’t dress the best because we’ll likely get dirty. And I tell him that he needs to have realistic expectations for the future. (Who wants to bring their “A-game” all the time? That’s not me.) He said that the occasion doesn’t matter. Just buy new clothes if they get ruined, he said to me.

I tell him that buying new clothes is unrealistic for some people, who need money for food and shelter, etc. (i.e., me). He said that doesn’t matter, either.

He then tells me that he “was offended” by some of the things I’ve worn in his presence. Like he’s a king or something and I’ve broken some royal law.

I KNOW! Offended by what? My great sense of personal style? I don’t say that, but I want to. He tells me he was offended by the clothes I wore to our museum day trip. I really want to dump the coffee on his head and tell him to fuck off (he mentioned he hates public scenes so I think up a really fabulous one in my head), but I hold myself in check. After all, I really do like the coffee shop we were sitting in and I know I’m going to come back. But I HATE it when people try to make me feel small or lesser than who I am, when I’m just being me.

So, I very politically reiterate my thoughts (i.e., have realistic expectations, etc.) and we leave. We are parked on the same level of the same parking garage so we walk there together. We reach his car first, which is parked in a handicapped spot. He is not handicapped. But he has the handicapped sticker because of his elderly parents. Which aren’t in the car with him. But he’s still using the spot that could, in fact, have gone to an actual handicapped individual. Total dick move.

As I drive away, I think back to our conversations. He mentioned that he had seen other girls (who likely brought their “A-game” more than me), but they weren’t that interested in caring for his parents. I don’t mind caring for my husband’s parents, as long as husband realizes that we’re taking care of my parents, too (this is why most men break things off; they don’t want to deal with my parents). Hmmm.

A few days later (after I had told my parents what happened, and my mum agreed with me on my take), my parents want to know his birth year (which he has been evasive about). He finally texts me his birthdate, and we discover he has lied about his birthdate and is, in fact, 3 years older than he stated he was in his online profiles and on the information he sent us separately.

We also find out later that he has also lied about being Sunni, and is actually Shia.

So, suffice it to say, I broke things off with him. But, being the obsessive sort, he had his mom contact my mom a few times to try to change our minds (my mum never picked up her calls). I was really nervous when he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and kept bothering us. All sorts of horrible scenarios ran through my head about what he might do (I’m sure you can imagine). I imagined several scenarios about what I would do to him if I ever saw him again.

Why did I have to go through that? Why does any woman? NO MEANS NO.

So anyway, now I’m back out there, trying to find a non-creepy, honest, kind individual who recognizes the importance for women to take care of their parents as much as men do (or should).

I’ve been called a spinster. I don’t agree with that term. Wikipedia essentially defines spinster (by the historical definition, I’m not talking about the more modern versions) as a woman who hasn’t married someone by the time they reach menopause. I’m nowhere near menopause, so that really doesn’t apply to me.

Oxford Dictionaries defines spinster as a derogatory term referring to “an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage”. I would argue that I am not “beyond the usual age for marriage”.

It’s true that women in my culture do get married young at times. But was it wrong to avoid the lying, controlling assholes? Someone in my family actually told me that I should marry someone, even if they’re mean or might be mean to me. I even had someone who, after the suitor’s family said that marriage meant I would never see my family again (no parents, siblings, extended family, etc.), still thought I should get married. Um, I’m sorry, but I refuse to settle for someone who will be cruel to me. I’ve been treated to enough cruelty in this world, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living with another one. And I refuse to accept that this stance is somehow wrong.

Women in our culture put up with A LOT. We do. We are exceptionally kind, giving people (not all women, but a lot of them are). We easily give up what we want and need for the wants and needs of others. I do that, too (hey – I’m not totally selfish).

I had an epiphany a few years ago. I was engaged. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but I was. I remember one day thinking, “Well, I won’t have the best marriage but maybe my daughter will do better than me.” And I stopped dead in my tracks. Why don’t I think I deserve to have a good marriage, with someone who truly cares and respects me? Why should I put up with someone unkind just to say that I’m “married”? Suffice it to say, that this epiphany, coupled with revelations about the family, meant we called off the wedding.

I don’t think finding a kind, decent person is unrealistic. I believe it can be reality. “Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it” (Sleepless in Seattle). God knows what is best for all of us, and I pray that God will provide me with direction to the right path and person.

So, now that I’ve defended my non-spinsterish stance, I leave you with this old poem. Thanks for reading!

 

Old Maid Poem

 

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ISNA (Male POV)

So a reader to my blog (thank you!) sent me a link to another’s piece on the ISNA Matrimonial Banquet. (You can read about my experience at ISNA here). It was interesting to read about it from a male point of view (POV), though I feel I should point out the following:

1) Dress. The author spoke about how the men were dressed. Well, I have to say the same attitudes probably applied to the women as well. I was dressed nice, but others were dressed a little nicer (with eye make-up) and others were in traditional dress. Since I started with Muslim speed dating (oh, so long ago), I have come to accept that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Were you dressed nice and “presentable”? Yes, to both of those for me. As I have met with people who were dressed not to impress at times, everyone at the ISNA banquet seemed to be dressed very appropriately.

2) The author spoke about Club ISNA – a late night gathering for those singletons attending ISNA. I did hear about Club ISNA (and the after party), but I made a decision not to attend though a few of my friends did. It was interesting to hear that the goings on were pretty much like the banquet (awkward, to say the least). And, as I am not a fan of hookah, I did not want to attend the after party (which took place at a hookah bar). Does that make me a fuddy-duddy? Some might say so, but I prefer to think otherwise; I know what I want, and what I need, and I didn’t think I’d find it at Club ISNA. Based on the article – I feel I made the right decision.

3) The author lastly talks about what to do now, and how to find the right person going forward. It was interesting to hear the male POV (I really liked his suggestion to other males to “stop being douchebags”). But I think he missed the point about the women. He suggested that women travel in smaller groups and to put away our phones, at least in regards to behavior at Club ISNA.

I will say, at the banquet when I was either on my own or with one friend, a few guys did approach me and speak to me. But I have tried making eye contact and giving a friendly smile (as the author suggests), to no avail. Some guys think I’m too forward, others think I need dental work done, and yet others give me a small smile back and go looking for someone else. Girls find it just as difficult for guys in those situations, sometimes, I think, a more difficult time than the guys do. Because while guys are not necessarily judged for going to these events (or even being a little older and searching for a spouse) women are judged. A lot. Every day. By everyone.

Every promotion an unmarried woman gets somehow becomes a symbol of her not wanting to be married. Every time she goes out with friends or makes plans, or is independent in any way somehow becomes a symbol of her not wanting to be married. Basically, almost everything she does gets twisted into a symbol of her not wanting to be married. It’s frustrating and annoying, and not at all true. Keeping busy doesn’t mean I don’t want to get married. It just means I’m keeping busy, period. That’s all. Simple as that.

And if we do look at our phone, it’s because we don’t want seem pathetic, just standing in a corner waiting for someone to speak to them. That’s why, in my opinion, most people are always on their phone anyway – they want to seem busy and in demand. So my suggestion to the guys would be to approach women who are looking at their phone. They’ll likely be pleased and put away the phone to speak with you. As the author puts it: “Take the initiative. Approach. Be friendly and inquisitive. If you don’t get the response you want, assume that the lady in front of you may be shy and new at this too. If she still doesn’t give you the interaction you’re looking for, then excuse yourself and move on.”

4) My follow-up. I gave my email to a few guys at the event. After waiting a respectable (i.e. not-desperate-seeming) amount of time, I emailed them. But, perhaps, this makes me too forward a person (especially I as received little response back). I like when the author said we should just admit we’re all looking for someone and, I would add, those that are looking for “fun” should just admit it, too (though I don’t understand what he means by “weird, Muslim game”). I’ll keep trying and praying (because what else can I do) and hope I find that person soon.

Here’s the link for the author’s post. Let me know what you think.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2012/09/looking-for-love-and-finding-awkwardness-at-isna/

Thanks for reading!

-M

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A Banquet of Matrimonial Proportions

So the main reason for today’s post to describe yet another attempt to meet someone decent in this world to marry. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is hosting their annual convention in DC this weekend. As part of the convention, they hold “matrimonial banquets”. Here’s a breakdown of how my day went.

7:00am – I wake up calm and serene, made a yummy breakfast of southwestern-style eggs with salsa, hashbrowns, and avocado (a superfood to help me have a super day!).

1:00pm – After spending the morning running errands (and fruitlessly searching for something new to wear for the evening), I decide to wear the very lovely dress that I was wobbling about wearing. The banquet starts around 4pm, but with travel time I’ve got to leave around 2:30.

1:30pm – Clothes are ironed and ready.

1:45pm – I realize I haven’t prayed yet, and do so, adding in some extra prayers for a good evening.

2:00pm – I realize I haven’t eaten anything since 7am and quickly inhale a salad while getting my purse organized (more avocado/more superfood!).

2:10pm – I realize my bag is too small to carry everything – wallet, contacts (yes, I am wearing contacts this time), glasses for when I take my contacts off after the event, extra hair products to combat the DC humidity (because sometimes 4 products in your hair are just not enough), and the various papers and printouts I have been told to bring with me. But, darn it, the bag looks cute with the outfit so I forge ahead.

2:15pm – I realize there is a bit of static cling in my dress.

2:15:30pm – I spray static guard on my dress.

2:15:32pm – I realize I now smell like static guard.

2:15:35pm – After a furious internal debate, I decide against wearing perfume to hide the static guard. Plus, perfume+DC humidity = not a pleasant smell.

2:20pm – Base makeup is now on, lip gloss is flung unceremoniously in small-yet-cute-bag.

2:21pm – Hair is weighted down with additional product, and fixed.

2:22pm – Debates begin over jewelry decisions. As I’ll be taking the Metro back late in the evening, I don’t want to be too flashy.

2:25pm – Jewelry decisions made, I put on the new shoes I bought. I know – new shoes on a night like this? I’m positively mad! But I break them in by walking in them around for room the next five minutes – clearly enough breaking in time.

2:30pm – I put in my contacts, after fighting with my eyes against the unnatural intrusions. My eyes are now red, watery, and some of the makeup to hide those dark eye circles has faded. Too late now!

2:32pm – I grab a scarf on my way out the door. It doesn’t match the best with the dress, but it is cute and I don’t feel like I can go to this thing without some sort of scarf.

2:40pm – In the short distance (about 100 yards) between an air conditioned building and the entrance to the Metro, my hair has expanded and I am sopping wet from the humidity. DC summer – welcome to it!

2:42pm – As I walk to the end of the Metro platform, I can see lingering gazes on me. I think they can still smell the static guard, but I’m hoping it’s because I look cute despite my soppiness.

2:43pm – I realize I forgot eye makeup. Frak.

3:30pm – I arrive at the Convention Center. The convention is really nice, what little I see of it and what I read in the program. They have lots of lectures on various aspects of the Islamic experience and what it means to be a Muslim in a modern world. Reading some of the descriptions, I can tell some are skewed in a more conservative direction, but I like that ISNA at least realizes that they can’t ignore the challenges that I and other Muslims face.

3:45pm – I arrive at the ballroom where the banquet is being held. There are hundreds of people milling about outside the doors (which will open around 4pm) and everyone is looking at everyone as they come up. And did I mention that some people also have their mums and other family in tow? So, yeah, a very awkward meat market, to say the least.

3:50pm – I recognize someone I’ve met through one my Meetup groups, I’ll call her E. She has done this before, and tells me how completely disorganized they were last year. We catch up and I tell her about my new business venture selling skincare (by the way – if anyone out there loves ProActiv, they’ll love the skincare line I’m selling! Contact me using the form below if you’re interested) and we catch up on other news.

4:10pm – We both head into the ballroom. The set-up is a lot like the speed dating, though they were clearly unorganized this year as well. We’re split up by age groups, so E and I are both in the same group and head off to an assigned table. The men are organized to be in a staggered age group (so they’ll be at least 2 years older than us, if that makes sense). For example, if the girls are 25-30, then the guys in that group will be 27-32.

4:30pm – A gentleman comes and sits down at our table (three people can sit on each side) and sits in front of E.

4:40pm – Another guy comes and begins to sit down in front of me, and then changes his mind and sits in front of the other girl at our table. Wow. I will not let this deter me. I did have avocado today, after all.

4:45pm – Another guy comes to sit in front of me (I’ll call him B). We are all chatting with each other across the table, very casually. E is very outgoing and friendly, which keeps the conversation moving.

4:50pm – I realize that B is not the nicest guy. Example – DC has a new panda cub (yay!) and we are quite excited about the little one. B thinks we should stop trying to save species, particularly the panda, and let them die off. He also said that ugly species also shouldn’t be saved. And that’s after I’ve told him I work in environmental conservation.

4:51pm – There’s an announcement that they are pushing back the official start to 5pm. And now I have to make idle conversation with jerky B until they start.

5:00pm – The event starts. They actually had the gentlemen move down before we started, so at least I don’t have to talk to B anymore. The next guy is very nice and a doctor.

I met a lot of doctors during this night and, I have to say, I was surprised.  There were also a lot of female doctors, too. I was surprised because, at least from what I’ve seen, doctors are snagged pretty quickly in the matrimonial scene. I mention this to E at some point who suggests that maybe it’s because the doctors of our generation are likely less conservative and less traditional. Interesting to think about anyway.

5:45pm – After meeting about 30 people (yes, 30!) my brain is fuzzy. They pause in the rotations while an Imam gives a short talk about the meaning behind this event. He tells us that you shouldn’t expect to fall in love tonight (even my romantic nature knew that going in), that he won’t be performing marriages, and that the families should realize that, too. (Oh yeah, forgot to mention. Those family members who tagged along? They are now seated in a section that overlooks the banquet room and are watching all the goings on. At least they weren’t on the floor where we are. Still kind of awkward, though.)

I met a few cool people, some of them very lovely looking, and even fewer from the DC area. I met a few guys from Canada who were surprised when I said I would prefer to stay in the US (yay, America!) as my parents live here and I want to be close to them. I exchanged email information with a few of them.

I did meet some other not so nice people. Example: one guy I met asked me my ethnicity and I said Pakistani. He asked if I go back often and I say not as often as I like but I try to go back for weddings (because the whole family is there and I can see everyone at once, plus they are crazy fun) and he tells me that I’m not really Pakistani because I don’t care about what happens there. I call him out. I tell him that is a mean thing to say. Of course I care about Pakistan. Just because I have fun while I’m there doesn’t mean I don’t care about my family or what is happening there. He seemed unconvinced (and clearly was not listening to the Imam when he said should be respectful to everyone you meet) and we sit in awkward silence until the next round.

6:00pm – The rounds begin again. I meet perhaps another 20 people. Most of them are very nice and I seem to connect with a few of them (none of them from DC though). Some people actually left when the Imam started speaking, so I have a break from time to time, which my voice really appreciates.

One guy though, tried to jump the age groups and was found out! E was sitting across from him when the event folks came up and told him to return to his age group. Creepy!

6:45pm – “Social Hour” begins. They have food set out and it’s a good chance to mill around and speak with people. E and I grab food and walk around when one of the guys I spoke with approaches me because he wants to trade info. He suggests phone numbers. I say, why don’t we start with email and go from there. He seemed a bit desperate to be honest. I find E later who tells me that he’s been going up to everyone asking for their information. Well, that’s good – at least he won’t feel bad if I turn him down.

I also run into someone I met at speed dating who never contacted me because he left town and was unable to access the email (excuses, but I give him the benefit of the doubt). He hands me his card, so I might email him. I also spend parts of the social hour avoiding other people I have met at speed dating and have no interest in speaking with again.

I stand off to the side at one point eating, and a random guy I didn’t speak with before comes up to me and stands WAY too close. I move a few feet over, and then he moves over. Finally, I politely say that I am going to get some more food and that it was nice to meet him.

Then, as I headed to throw away my plate, I run into a guy I did like. During our rotation we talked about music and other fun things and, it turns out, his sister is there as well (and participated in the event) so I get to meet her, too. He acts like a typical older brother, teasing his sister, and his sister and I have similar tastes in tv and things, so we get along well, too. And he’s taller than me! It’s only probably an inch or so, but it still counts.

8:00pm – Social hour is still going on, but E and I decide to head out as the crowd has thinned considerably and I have a massive headache from wearing the contacts so long.

So, all in all, it wasn’t terrible. I got to meet some cool people and maybe something will work out – you never know.

P.S. – 5 minutes is clearly not enough time to break in new shoes.

Thanks for reading!

-M

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Eid

Eid Mubarak to one and all! May everyone have a blessed and happy Eid day, Ameen.

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Ramadan Revelations

This intense month of prayer and reflection does, at least for me, leads me towards some startling revelations about myself.

Several years ago, I realized the impetus behind all of my actions; I figured out why I do the things I do. And that’s a biggie. When you think about it, we make hundreds of decisions a day. Most of them are pretty small, but every once in a while, there’s a major life-changing one.

I have briefly touched on this in the past, but I was engaged before. No, I’m not going to go into details, except to say that I find dishonesty abhorrent. But the whole thing had felt wrong from the beginning, even from when we first met. And then we announced the engagement, and we took photos, and I looked happy in the photos. I was happy on the day I got engaged, but I realized that was more because I loved my engagement dress and the ring was quite nice (and, apparently, that I was more shallow than I realized).

Once I realized the “why” behind my actions, looking back, I also knew why I got engaged. And it wasn’t for me. Realizing why you take the actions you do makes a huge difference in your life. Every new decision, from small to large, holds a new meaning and a new potential outcome.

Another revelation I’ve had is about my decision-making process. You need to know more than the “why” of your decisions. You need to know “how” you have come to those decisions in the first place. This concept can get a bit confusing, but I realized that even though I knew why I was making decisions, I would still make a wrong one from time-to-time. I almost missed out on a great opportunity because of it. I would go back and forth, weigh pros and cons, and still be indecisive or be leaning towards the wrong decision.

Another revelation I’ve had is that I tended to disconnect the decisions I was making with the prayers I was saying. I would pray for one thing, and then not realize that Allah had listened to those prayers and was providing me with an opportunity. I would debate the decision endlessly. As an example here, someone could pray for an ease to their financial burdens and, when a job opportunity presented itself, not realize that Allah provided the job opportunity as a means to ease their financial burden. They may instead debate if the job was the right one for their career, or if the transition was the right one to make at that time.

There’s a quote from the movie Evan Almighty that I just love and that I think is absolutely true:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

By spending the month of Ramadan in prayer and reflection, you start to realize the opportunities you may have missed and the opportunities that are before you right now. Once you realize the “whys” and “hows” of your decision-making, you are no longer stuck making the same mistakes and the same bad decisions over and over again; you now have the power to stop yourself and make the right decision.

So I encourage all my steadfast readers, and any that may stumble upon this website, to search within themselves in these final days of prayer and ibadat to discover their own “whys” and “hows”. May Allah hear all our duas and answer them positively, Ameen.

Thanks for reading!

-M

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Ramadan Brain

Ramadan Brain is a real and true phenomenon. Ramadan Brain occurs each day during Ramadan, though the time of day varies from person to person. For me, Ramadan Brain typically occurs around 1-2pm.

A main characteristic of Ramadan Brain is memory loss. You find yourself inexplicably in a room and with no idea as to why you entered it. Despite the many calendar apps on your phone (and the physical paper backup you keep), you can recall nothing but the times to stop and start eating each day, and rely on your prayer calendar to remind you for the timings of other prayers.

Another characteristic of Ramadan Brain is clumsiness. Those who were clumsy before (such as myself) have a new and debilitating sense of clumsiness that strikes when we are at our weakest. Others, formerly graceful and gliding, find themselves tripping all the more.

There are other characteristics of Ramadan Brain – which ones do you exhibit?

But despite these characteristics, God gives you strength and focus for the day. He lifts you up when you fall, and guides you through this month of reflection, prayer, and penitence. May God give us all the strength and focus we need to become better citizens on this Earth, Ameen.

-M

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Pardon My French

So tonight I met with one of the guys from my latest speed dating venture – Mr. Name Change/Heritage Hater (I’ll just call him N from here on out). I know what you’re thinking: “How could you meet with him?!” I did not “match” with him after the event. For those who don’t know, after a speed dating event, at least the way these are run, you can go online and select the guys you want to meet with and, if they select you, then you’ve “matched” each other. Clearly, I did not select N as someone I wanted to meet with, but he contacted me anyway. The truth is that I’m a hopeful person, often to my own detriment, and I thought it couldn’t hurt anything to meet with him, so why not? And, I figured, if nothing else, I’d get some amusing anecdotes for my faithful blog readers (thanks for following my blog!).

So the two of us emailed back and forth through the speed dating website first. I asked him about his comment regarding Pakistani people (that he hated/disliked them). He responded with (and this is a direct quote):

“yes i did say that i should have not use the word hate. hate is a very strong word. let me explain or let me say it the wright words i dont hate paki ppl it just sometime the way they act i cant stand. some time they speak tooo loude its like you can here them for miles and miles away i am a very quite person.”

And yes, that’s how he wrote in an email. Not even a text. An email. With proofreading and spell-check capabilities. And, yes, I still met with him. Sometimes things get lost in email translation, so I thought he might be better in person. So, I suggested meeting for coffee. He agreed. I suggested a Panera  in a mall near my house – lots of options and I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t find something they liked at Panera. He agreed.  But then he emailed me for directions, which I found … interesting. In our digital age, where you can literally ask your phone to direct you, he emailed me to ask me. Whereas Google could have told him in the time it took him to email me, provided 3 different routes to get there, and provided information on parking nearby. It gives me the impression that he’s lazy. But, I did provide directions and, thinking about Google, I even provided him with nearby parking opportunities. Then, an hour before we were set to meet, he emailed again to ask where we were meeting. Okaaaay.

So, he arrives and we get in line to get some coffee/beverages. The second thing he tells me (after “Hello”) is that he hates Panera, that he ate at another location 6 years ago and his sandwich was horrible. Okay. I respond with, “Well, we could have gone somewhere else.” Truly, I just picked it for ease and their varied menu. He responds with, “I don’t care. I really don’t care. I don’t give a s*** where we meet. Pardon my French.” Okaaaay. And why would you hate Panera? That just doesn’t even make sense to me. So you had a bad sandwich once – do you routinely give up on things if they don’t work out once? You don’t think it’s important to give them another chance? And am I looking way too much into a decision based on a sandwich? All of these could be true. Moving on.

I look away to peruse the menu. I decide to go the smoothie route. There’s a new superfruit smoothie that I’d like to try, but it’s the most expensive and I don’t want to be one of those girls that orders something expensive, so I order the less expensive mango fruit smoothie. He orders the same. We chat as we wait for the smoothies. Or he talks. About himself. He owns his own business, and he mentions all the problems that came up just as he was leaving to come to meet me, and his tone suggests said problems are my fault.

We get our smoothies and sit down. He immediately says that there is something wrong with the smoothie, that it must be missing something. The conversation then moves on to various topics. Or, I should say, his talking moves on as he shifts between various subjects with no prompting from me. Eventually, I see an opening and ask him about his family. I should mention that he curses in every other sentence (at least), saying “Pardon My French” after many of them. He talks about his truck a lot; I don’t think too much about this (he is a boy after all and, yes, I realize that’s a sexist comment but that doesn’t make it less true here).

I bring up his comments about Pakistan again, and he says he’ll go to Pakistan “if he has to” and he’ll meet with my family and other Pakistanis “if he has to”. More cursing, pardon my French. I mention that while no one is perfect, and there’s no reason to discount an entire ethnicity. He says that’s true and that Turkish people are great (he’s half Turkish, half Pakistani). I don’t point out here that, based on some of the reasons he provided to dislike Pakistanis, he probably wouldn’t like himself if he met him.

Then he asks me a few questions, interrupting my answers each time. He seems to recognize the fact that I’m an intelligent lady, because, when I call him on his … interesting …. answers, he tells me that I “shut him down” with my “little brain” and that I’m clearly “old” (though I think he meant mature on that last one). And these are the first “compliments” he has given me in our conversation thus far. I’m not the type of person who needs to be complimented all the time or even that can’t take veiled insults, but on the first “date”? Really?

He asks me if I live alone (my creepy guy radar beeps more quickly) and then if I like to stay out late and go to bars (beeping even faster now). I ask him point blank if he drinks (which is not permissible in Islam). He pauses for at least 4 seconds before saying “Yes and no”. I respond with, “So yes, you do drink”. He repeats his response. I say, “It’s either a yes or no question not a ‘yes and no’ question”. So he explains that he started drinking in 2010 and is planning to stop … as soon as he gets married. That he can just put the drink down and walk away. Same with smoking, he says. Anyone who’s had a cigarette or had friends who smoke(d) know that it’s really hard to quit, so I don’t know that I believe his “cold turkey” approach will work. So I ask why he started drinking. He says he started because he was lonely and there were bars near his house where he could meet people. I can sense the sadness in him; I have sadness myself and can recognize it in others. But, at the same time, I didn’t choose to dull my loneliness with alcohol. So I mention that there are non-alcoholic drinks at bars. He says he knows. Okay.

So then he asks if his drinking is a dealbreaker. I say, “Yes, it is.” He responds with: well, since we won’t see each other, I can now tell you that I was married before. What??? When I tell you I don’t want to see you anymore, then you tell me about your past. And then, ironically, he says he’s going to leave me with 2 pieces of advice: be honest and be loyal (specifically telling me not to cheat on him with someone else). Okaaaay.

We’re now 45 minutes into the conversation and I’m more than ready to go. I wish him good luck and say goodbye, and don’t regret my decision to part ways with this guy. I’m disappointed that another meeting didn’t result in something better, but I’m still hopeful about the next meeting (whenever that might be). What I do regret is not going for the more expensive superfruit smoothie. Well, I’ll remember for next time.

Thanks for reading!

-M

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Is Seven My Lucky Number?

So, I tried speed dating again. For those of you keeping track, this is Round #7 (read up on the past events here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6).  I don’t know why they decided to hold it over a long holiday weekend. Because of that, though, I wasn’t expecting a lot of people to show up. When I arrived, I asked the organizers how many people were signed up; 20 they told me. As it was a gorgeous day outside (after several not so gorgeous days), I thought we’d be lucky to get even half that.

As I waited, I saw more and more women show up (as is usually the case) and only a few men. When we started, there were 7 women and 5 men. When there are fewer men and more women, I always tend to notice the other women more. There’s more competition for the same resources, and you need to know what you’re up against. Looking around, all the other ladies seemed nice but I felt like I was prettier than some of them and at least equal to the others (I’m humble, too – did I mention that?).

They had put us in these horribly awkward seats; we ended up sitting on these odd bench couches with the gentlemen next to you (not across from you), while another girl and guy sat across from you trying to have their own conversation. The girl across from me could not look any of the guys in the face; she still spoke to them, but just doodled on a piece of paper during the whole conversation. It must be difficult if you’re that shy to try something like this, or maybe she was being coy on purpose. I’ve been told I’m too forward at times and not all guys like girls like that, so maybe that gave her an edge. I don’t know. But as someone who likes to people watch, there’s no better opportunity to learn about human nature than at a speed dating event.

Anyway, if you’ve read my previous speed dating blog posts, you know I try to come up with pithy names for the guys. At this point, in Round 7, I’m pretty pith-ed out, but I’ll try just the same.

Bachelor #1, Mr. Name Change/Heritage Hater. So this guy said his name was one thing (a very Western name, shall we say) but his online profile stated another, much more Eastern name. I could tell he had just shortened his name to make it easier to say but his name was not all that complicated to begin with, and I know complicated names, having lived with one my whole life. I don’t mind that he did it, but he never mentioned it during our short conversation. I myself have used a shortened version of my name at times, and definitely use a different name at restaurants (I don’t think the people at Panera or my local coffeehouse care all that much about the accuracy of my name when taking an order).

But what did bother me about this guy was how he really seemed to dislike Pakistanis. Which I am. And which he is as well. He’s half-Pakistani and half-Turkish. When I asked if he ever went back to visit either country, he went into a long-ish speech about how he really doesn’t like Pakistan. When I told him I go to visit family, he just said it was an unattractive country and that there’s not much to do there. I counter with the fact that there are several beautiful areas to the country and plenty to do, but that I’m the type of person who tries to find beauty in everything. He counters that with “Well, I’m from New York City, so …” – What does that mean??? I actually think that’s offensive to New Yorkers. Okay. Moving on. I just couldn’t be with someone who hates a part of themselves so much and who wouldn’t let me or our kids visit my family overseas. You will always be Pakistani, and so will your kids, and their kids, and so on. It’s a heritage to be proud of, not disdainful of. It’s true, the country is politically unstable (to say the least), but that’s no reason not to embrace your heritage.

Bachelor #2, Mr. Head On.  So, as I mentioned, we had to sit on these awkward bench couches where you really could only sit slanted toward the other person. Well this guy shifted his whole upper body to face me head on, not at an angle. At least he was looking at my good side. But he was nice, tall (!), relaxed, and funny. We seemed to have things in common, but I think my “strong” personality might have been off-putting to him. Guess I’ll find out soon enough. He did linger at my table before moving to the next girl, so that could be a good sign.

Bachelor #3, Mr. Repeater. So, I can’t remember what I originally named this guy, but he’s nice enough. I’m just much taller than him and we just won’t suit each other personality-wise (and we both know it), so we made general conversation until the bell sounded and he moved on.

Bachelor #4, Mr. Foreign Service. So this guy seemed really nice. He’s joined the Foreign Service and will be leaving in about 6 months, but at least he was honest and forthcoming about it. I don’t mind that he’s in it; I thought about joining myself many moons ago. But it does make life difficult. His family is based in the area, which I think would be helpful. Maybe after a few more conversations, I could better gauge how I feel about it. We’ll see what happens.

Bachelor #5, Mr. Shy. So this guy also seemed nice and a bit shy, as he didn’t really look at me much, but did spend a lot of time glancing at his sheet of paper (I think he and the girl who sat across from me might make a good match!) but I wouldn’t mind talking to him some more just the same. He was nervous and, as there were fewer guys, he did mention that he felt pressure because of that.

And then the evening ended, and I made it home while it was still light outside. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

-M

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