Muslim Girl in America

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

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

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

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

2 Comments »

Marriage Around the World

I saw this article this morning on the New York Times website. The article discusses the South Korean culture and the transitions they are going through in regards to marriage, which is similar to the challenges I have been facing. I don’t think, however, that Muslim countries will be hosting “dating parties” anytime soon 🙂

Thoughts?

 

Leave a comment »

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

Leave a comment »

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

1 Comment »

Once More, From the Top

So, after a rough start to the year, I decided to put myself out there again try speed dating once more. Armed with a very cute new outfit and a positive attitude, away I went. Here’s the recap:

So, despite my planning otherwise, I arrived on time. The event was supposed start at 7pm, but the organizers always give you 30 minutes to “mingle” before the actual speed dating portion of the evening. As Muslims are not really minglers, I’ve tried to plan it to arrive closer to 7:30 than 7:00. Anyway, this evening, I arrived shortly after 7pm and ended up speaking with a few repeaters before the main event, including …

Bachelor #1, Mr. Judgmental Again. So, I’ve seen him a few times before. He seems less judgmental today, or maybe I’m just more desperate; I’m not sure. We talked about movies and other general topics – conversation was easy, but I still remember our past conversations. Was I being too judgmental about him? Hmm. Food for thought.

Bachelor #2, Mr. Maybe-Pakistani. So this guy claimed he was from Pakistan, but his accent sounded very eastern-European (as did his looks and name).  We talked about general topics. He mentioned repeatedly how he was “newly single” and, as he seemed to be at least 10 or more years older than me, I thought he may even have kids he hasn’t mentioned. He kept telling me that “I was interesting” – which I am – but in a mildly creepy way. And while he certainly could have been from Pakistan (even I am somewhat light-skinned in comparison to other American-Paki counterparts), I just got the impression he was being untruthful.

Bachelor #3, Mr. Earwax. So this guy chatted me up during the “mingling” portion of the event. When we chatting during the speed dating portion, he seemed sweet but I was unimpressed. And then he picked his ear with his finger. And then looked at it. And then flicked away the wax. All while still talking to me. Ew. Ew ew ew ew. He also tried to chat me up after the event, but I left to catch my cab. Ew.

Bachelor #4, Mr. Political. So this guy was also older, which isn’t necessarily a problem. He looked older than me, but not decades older. But most of the conversation was about him and how involved he is in politics both here and in his home country (which is not Pakistan, but is undergoing a revolution at the moment). He went on to say how much he loves to talk politics (but based on his comments, I can infer he may have been against the revolution) and to have people over to his house for long political discussions. And that caused little red flags to rise in my head. Something seemed off about him. Sigh.

Bachelor #5, Another Repeater. So this guy has also appeared a few times. I don’t remember what I called him, but he made it clear after our first meeting that my height (which nears the 6 feet range) didn’t work for him (he is more than a little shorter than 6 feet). He wasn’t mean about it, and honestly we had a nice time chatting but it’s just not meant to be. And then he made some comment about how he noticed how tall I was when he “followed me home” – yes, he actually said it – but then immediately went on to say that he meant he noticed my height when I got up to leave to go home. Okay. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to creepy, ill-motived guys trying to follow me home. I don’t think he actually did follow me (I’ve never seen anyone follow my cabs home before, and I look), but I don’t know what to make of him. I say a prayer and move on to the next round.

Bachelor #6, Mr. Classical-with-a-Twist. So this guy and I hit it off after we discovered a mutual history of violin playing. He still plays, though now it’s electric violin (hence the twist). We chatted about music and the gigs he plays as a violinist (which is his side gig). I mentioned that there’s usually a need for classical musicians during Christmas (for parties and the like) and he mentioned that he (and his Christian family!) plays at their church. I felt as though I was a broken roller coaster – my hopes went up and up and up and then zoomed down, down, down super fast, and then just stopped. Sigh.

Bachelor #7, Mr. Potential Yet Again. We mingled at the beginning, and spent time catching up during the speed dating portion of the evening. He still seems nice (and still has lovely hands) and still seems uninterested in me. Moving on…

Bachelor #8, Mr. Unintended Speed Dater. So this guy came with a friend (see Bachelor #9 below) who neglected to tell him that they were going to a speed dating event. #9 only told him that they were going to go downtown for the evening, so he was blindsided by the whole thing. He was a good sport about it and seemed sweet, but he’ll be returning to his home country this year permanently so it’s just not meant to be.

Bachelor #9, Mr. Semper Fi. So this guy is another non-Muslim. His friend, #8, was a Muslim so he brought him to meet new people. I think that shows kindness on his part; he was willing to go to a speed dating event to help out a friend who didn’t really know other Muslims in the city even though he was not a Muslim himself. He was funny, a Marine (hence the Semper Fi reference), and he was lovely to look at. Sigh.

Bachelor #10, Mr. Maybe Repeater. So I think I’ve seen this guy before though I can’t quite remember him. We chatted about sports and made general conversation, but he was quick to deflect any question about himself onto me. Not a good sign.

And that’s all for this evening. More women than men, as usual, but I had high hopes. Of all these guys, Mr. Judgmental seems the most compatible. Well, we’ll see what happens…

Until next time – Thanks for reading!

-MK

1 Comment »

The Visit: Day Two

So, this morning we met up near a Metro station. He wants brunch, but at this stop, which he picked, there isn’t anything open. We head to one of the museums and eat in their cafeteria. It was overpriced and it was lunch not brunch food, but it wasn’t bad. The weather seems to parallel the mood of our time together today: first bright and sunny and hopeful, then increasingly gray and moody.

I ask him if there’s anything he wants to see. He says no, so I take him around to look at some art. Our conversation is light and superficial. We eventually head to a few other museums nearby and I’m glad I have the museum to distract me. At a few moments during the day, I turn and look at him. I think about how he lied about where he worked (why wouldn’t you mention you had your own business and say you worked for a company instead?), and I wonder what else he lied about, and I realize that I don’t trust him. Not with the Metro card I lent him, nor with my heart. I want the marriage but I don’t want it with him.

We finish out the day before he heads out to the airport. We part on good terms though I don’t end it yet. I need advice first to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I talk to my Mom when I get home. She agrees. She gives me the whole spiel about how I’ll only find older guys who will be set in their ways, but she’s concerned about the lying. She says it’s better to end it now. She says, when it’s right, it’s right, and this doesn’t feel right. Don’t call him, she says, but wait for him to call you. So that’s what I’ll do for now.

I feel frustrated and a bit of a failure. I’ve invested 2 months into this and I can’t believe it’s not going to work out. I can’t imagine how it is for others who invest years or more into a relationship and call it quits. I can’t imagine the pain they go through. I didn’t love Texas – I can be honest about that – but I had hoped to.

So, now I’m back to the drawing board again. InshAllah (translation: if God wills it) I’ll meet the right someone soon.

Thanks for reading!

-M

Leave a comment »

The Visit: Day One

So, despite our earlier issues, we did end up making some plans for Saturday night. As his flight got in late afternoon, we decided to meet up for dinner. Well, I should say Texas decided it, and I went along with it. He repeatedly mentioned how he was going out of his way to fly in and that after spending the whole day flying, he didn’t want to go downtown; he just wanted to have dinner somewhere near his hotel. I went along with it – in the spirit of compromise and all – and there was actually a town center with lots of shops and restaurants so we decided to meet there. I’m not inconsiderate to his travel, but I do feel as though he was making a big deal about it over nothing (something I’ve noticed he does often, making mountains out of molehills and making things more difficult than need be), as his flight was only 3.5 hours and he only changed one time zone. If you add airport security time, maybe his travel day comes to 5 or 6 hours, but still. Of course, I say that as I’m the complete opposite. Last time I went to Pakistan (a 2 day journey, mind), I took 30 minutes to freshen up before I was out the door and on my way to do some shopping.

Anyway, traffic made me a little late, but I informed him before our appointed meeting time that I would be late. So we were supposed to meet at 6pm. I showed up at 6:15. He showed at 6:45. Yes, that’s right – we met at a restaurant near him and he showed up later than I did. I also had to pay $6 in tolls to get there. That’s not really pertinent to the story, but I felt it was important to mention. Apparently, his cab was late, which happens. I’m just wondering why it took so long (tune into the end of the post for that answer).

So I am standing outside, freezing in the 30 degree weather, while waiting for him and have started coughing. Not good. (To my best friend reading this, know that I will not let a trifling cough deter us from well-deserved beach time this week). I want to mention here that we have not met before – we’ve only talked on the phone and exchanged photos. So, the first thing I think of when I see him is that the picture he sent me must have been a few years old. He looks kind of the same, but older with thinning hair and a more rotund physical frame. Nothing wrong with that (I’m no Spring chicken, myself), but I’m someone who is not photogenic; I’m way hotter in person than in photos. I don’t know what he thought of me; I couldn’t pick much up from his expression but he seemed pleased. But then again, I’m hotter in person J He did also lie about his height, I realize. I mentioned that I was 5’11”, and he said he was the same (his profile said different, but he changed it to 5’11”. I know because I checked), but he is clearly shorter than me. Sigh. Most guys are, unfortunately.

So we head to the restaurant for dinner. Thai food. Always good and there’s something for everyone (even I as a vegetarian). We sit down, and as I’m still settling in and taking my coat off he starts talking about his job. And casually mentions that he has his own business. Shock and surprise on my face. We’ve been talking for 2 months and he just now mentions he has his own business. When I asked who he worked for back in the beginning, he mentioned some Telecom company. He said he’s a contractor for the company but he’s self-employed. I ask him, “Why didn’t you mention that before?” He just gets a sheepish look on his face and turns his face away from mine and just goes, “Well…” And we both go back to looking at our menus. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “What else is he holding back or has lied about?” Owning a business isn’t shameful or disgraceful; it’s something to be proud of so why didn’t he mention it? Boys are so dumb sometimes.

So we order and immediately he gets into heavy conversation. “What bothers you? Why did you say this? Why did you say that?” I feel like I’m being interrogated and the tension level at the table has shot up considerably. I respond honestly. What bothers me most is dishonesty and dismissive behavior – I’m a human being who deserves respect and consideration, not to be dismissed because my thoughts and opinions differ from others. I say, “In a relationship, any relationship be it friendship or other, you need to know when to lead and when to follow. You need to trust the other person.” I also mentioned that if I moved across the country, I didn’t want to move into a house right away. I wanted to wait a year. “It’s stressful moving across the country to a new city where you don’t really know anyone,” I say. “I’d rather invest time in the marriage than worry about buying a house and mortgage and moving for the second time in the same year.” He responds with, “I guess that makes sense.” I say, “I’m the one who’ll be making more changes than you, and I’ll need time to settle in before moving to a house.” Maybe that wasn’t a fair thing to say, but it’s the truth; women in our culture do give up more when we marry. He responds with, “Apartments are stupid and a waste of time and money. That’s what I think.” I say, “It’s only a year, it’s not permanent.” He just kinds of nods. We’ve already had this discussion before, but he has brought it up again. Maybe he thought I would just agree with him in person, I don’t know.

Then he asks about kids. Again, another topic we’ve already discussed. I say, “I don’t want to wait, but I do want to invest some time in the marriage in the beginning.” He responds, “So what does that mean?” I say, “I don’t, maybe a year. You don’t just have a baby. It usually takes 9 months anyway after you get pregnant.” And we’re on treacherous waters here. I’m not going near any topic that involves sex, so I skirt around the issue as best I can. He says, “Well, I don’t want to wait. I want to have a baby right away and don’t want to wait 2 or 5 years.” I say, “I’m talking about a year here. And it’s up to God anyway.” What I don’t say is that it’s my frakking body, and while I definitely want kids, if I want to wait to have them we will frakking wait to have them. And if God has other plans, then I won’t complain. Children are a blessing and I can’t wait to have kids, truly. But there’s nothing wrong with waiting a little. And it’s my frakking body!

Our food arrives, and the rest of conversation gets considerably lighter. The food is yummy, and we discuss logistics for the next day. I’ve brought bus schedules and I even brought him a pre-filled Metro card for him to use to make it easier for him. I leave what we do up to him, as he was so sensitive about it. He decides to head into the city and see some museums. That’s fine with me, I say, and we plan where and when to meet.

Then we head out of the restaurant and walk around the area a bit. We grab yummy gelato and sit and talk some more. (It occurs to me as I write this, that the best thing about being a girl on the dating scene is the free meals.) The conversation is much easier now. We’re talking about companies and why they did or didn’t succeed. We discuss Sears and, as I worked there for a number years when I was younger, I provide my behind-the-scenes insights. He doesn’t agree with my view (which is fine – you don’t always need to agree with the one you’re with), but I can tell he’s mildly upset that we don’t agree.

We walk around a bit more.  There’s an ice skating rink (though they don’t rent skates, you need to bring your own), so we sit outside and watch the skaters. He wants to call the hotel to arrange for the taxi back. I say, “Why don’t I give you the number of the cab company I always use?” He responds, “No, I want the hotel to arrange the cab for me.” Okay, not a big deal. But it takes 10 minutes on the phone to arrange said cab. When a quick call to the cab company directly could have arranged it in under 1 minute. He’s making things harder than they need to be. He feels that is the only way to order a cab and he won’t deter from it. Oh dear.

We sit and talk more. We realize we were both born in the same city, and even the same hospital. Is this a sign? Should I move forward with this? Is God giving me a sign that this is it? I can tell marriage with him wouldn’t be easy. Marriage is never easy, really, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to be as open I wanted to be with a husband. I’ll hold things back and continue to carry some burdens on my own. I’ve never had an “easy” life. I’ve been shouldering burdens my whole life. Even now, I work 2 or more jobs to help others shoulder theirs.

I was engaged once – have I mentioned that? Well, during my engagement my father had a mild heart attack. My fiancé didn’t come to the hospital, didn’t really call to check up on things. Not even after his surgery. I felt so alone. My Mom doesn’t drive and my brother lived a few hours away, so I was left to shoulder the burden of things. And I saw how my marriage would have been – I would have been forced to be the strong one all the time. I always have to be the strong one. I just want someone else to be strong every once in a while and help me. Is that too much to ask? There are more medical issues in my family now. There will be more hospital visits and problems. And at this point, I just don’t know if he will help me shoulder that burden. I need someone to help me, even it’s just a shoulder to cry on. I’m so tired of crying on my own.

So, we’ll see how things go today. I’m still going to keep an open mind. Maybe he was nervous yesterday, I don’t know. Maybe I’m deluding myself. Maybe God wants us to be together and that’s why our similarities keep popping up despite our differences. I just don’t know. If any of you faithful readers have any advice for me, please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

-M

3 Comments »

A Conversation of Argumental Proportions

So, just to give you an update, things did not work out with Jersey. I talked to my parents and they agreed, and it actually ended up being a mutual thing as he felt the same way.

Well, now let me update you on Texas. So he’s coming to see me. This weekend in fact. Today in fact. At this moment his plane has already landed in my lovely and charming city. But deciding what activities we’ll do when he’s here has resulted in something like our first argument. Here’s a recap of what happened.

So, when we discussed him visiting, I had mentioned that the first week in January would work best for me. He wanted to wait until the end of January. I think he realized we were entering the “lets-move-forward-or-break-up” stage, because he decided to come this weekend. But he didn’t check with me before booking the flight. This results in him flying into an airport far away from my location and staying in a hotel that in not accessible to public transportation. He contacts me one day and asks which airport is best? I tell him the one near me is best and is metro-accessible. We had discussed this before (which airport was better), and I had also previously mentioned the airport near me. He tells me he has already booked a flight into the other one. I tell him that it will be harder for him to get around the city and he’ll have to cab it. He asks me, “Why aren’t you going to pick me up? I had planned on you picking me up and driving us around.” I respond with, “Well, I wish you would have checked with me first before making plans that concerned me”, which I feel is completely appropriate. I tell him that my parents aren’t comfortable with us in a car together until they’ve met you, and I’m going to respect their wishes. He asks, “So, does that mean you’re not even going to come to my hotel and meet me there?” I firmly say No. Maybe he didn’t mean anything … lascivious….by it, but I don’t go to hotels to meet men. Period.

So then I ask him why he had booked a flight and hotel, when I, who have lived in this city for a number of years and know what I’m talking about, suggested the other one. He said when he lived in my city, that was the area where he lived. And he expected me to spend the whole weekend there. He didn’t want to go into the city. He didn’t want to ride public transportation, and never did when he lived there. He said he only drove around that suburb and that was good enough for him then and it should be good enough now. Wow. And he said this all very defensively. Very adamantly. But there’s one thing to mention here: there are no musuems, no downtown, no real fun activities to be had in said place. Only restaurants, really. So I ask, “Did you expect us to just sit and talk for 2 days? Why are you against going to a museum or doing something fun?” He says that he does not expect us to talk for 2 days, though his tone of voice suggests he might have been, which to me does not sound like fun. We’re meeting for the first time, not negotiating a business deal (though in our culture, some might debate that point). He states that he went sightseeing when he lived there several years ago and he doesn’t want to see anything again. I respond by saying, “It’s not about the museum or sightseeing. It’s about doing an activity together and hanging out together.” To me, he just sounded afraid. He keeps bringing up that he doesn’t want to ride public transportation as he doesn’t want to get lost or end up in a bad neighborhood. I tell him that I would never take him to a bad neighborhood.

I decide to try a different tack. I mean, this is a man who has told me that he loves to travel and loves to explore new cities like I do. Either he has multiple personalities, or he was exaggerating. So I try talking to him calmly, rationally, and unfortunately, like I’m trying to talk him down from his fear. “You told me that you love to travel,” I say. “That you love to explore new cities.” He says he does go to new cities, but stays near the hotel and doesn’t venture out. “So you don’t like to travel then?” I ask. “No, I love to travel,” he says defensively. “I’ve actually done a lot of traveling. I even ride the Boston subway when I’m there.” So I respond with, “And I’m sure you studied the map and where you needed to go, asked for help if you needed it, and once you rode it a few times you were fine.” He just kinds of grunts in the affirmative, as he can’t really say anything to that.

And I try yet another tack. I say, “If this works out, I’ll be moving to a city where I don’t know how to get around, and, yes, that’s scary, but you get a map and make your way through it.” He responds, “But you won’t be alone, you’ll have me.” To which I reply, “And you won’t be alone when you visit me, either. You’ll have me.” To which he just grunts in the affirmative again and doesn’t really say anything else.

So, I’m left wondering what’s really going on. Is he just assuming things about himself that aren’t true? Or is he just afraid to take risks? Maybe both, but definitely the latter. In the back of my mind, I actually think that may have been one reason why his marriage didn’t work out. I think he got afraid and ended it before it got too real, so to speak. I also think that he is too used to thinking only about himself, and not really considering others. Maybe this is a guy thing, I don’t know. I’ve been “independent” for a few years now, but I’m usually thinking about other people. Not that I’m not selfish (I’ll be the first to admit that I am), but I’m a very caring person. I don’t love by halves – I’m all in or I’m all out. That simple.

My feelings about Texas swing back and forth on a pendulum each day. One day I’m excited at the possibilities, the next I’m scared of the realities. Getting married and starting a family is what I want, but I’m afraid of that as well. Is there a Dummies guide for Muslim brides I can read? I’ve waited my whole life to share my life with someone and, if things move forward with Texas, am I settling? I never wanted to settle – it’s one of the reasons I didn’t get married earlier in life. The problem is that even as practical as I am, I’m just as much of a romantic. Curse you, Jane Austen, for making me believe there could be a Darcy out there waiting for me and that I don’t need to settle for the Mr. Collins in the world. And being a romantic is not a good thing for a Muslim girl to be. We’re told from an early age that romance plays little part in our married lives. But I know in reality that marriage isn’t like those in romance novels, and movies, or even Jane Austen. That it is more practical for most.

I recall a conversation with one of my cousins (who has been married several years) regarding marriage. She asked me what I wanted most from marriage. I said I wanted someone who was a true partner that I could share things with, and someone who would be there for me emotionally when I needed it. She easily responded, “That doesn’t exist. Get that thought out of your head, because you won’t find it.” But why? Everybody needs someone to talk to, to share things with. Why can’t it be the person you’ve pledged your life to? Sigh.

Well, I’m going to keep an open mind as the weekend progresses. We’ve had other pleasant conversations since this pseudo-argumentative one, so we’ll see how things go. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading!

-M

3 Comments »

To LinkIn or Not to LinkIn? That is the Question …

So tonight, I received a message from LinkedIn letting me know that someone wanted to connect to my network. Not usually an odd occurrence, but today this request was coming from a former suitor. An ex, as it were. Which begs the question, do you connect with your exes through social media?

 

This ex was not my ex-fiance (though I have seen his name pop up as someone I might know and have ensured that it does not pop up again). This ex was someone I had spoken with through my recent bout of online dating. This guy was nice, but he didn’t really have a job (at 36) and was having Visa issues which meant he might get deported back to Pakistan. I am an American girl, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxing, and relaxing all cool, and all shootin’ some b-ball outside of school … well, you get the picture. I couldn’t live in Pakistan. And, though he was a nice guy, I knew it wouldn’t work out. I’m more confident in my decision now that I’m on Team Texas, and we did part on good terms.

 

So do you connect with an ex on an innocuous site such as LinkedIn? On Facebook, I would definitely say no, but I tend to keep my profile private just for family and my closest friends, whereas other people I know have thousands of friends and that works for them. As the purpose of LinkedIn is to extend your professional network in hopes of finding a better position (and I am searching for a better position), I’m going to say no Mr. Visa Issues. We’re not in the same field at all, so it doesn’t seem to make sense on a practical level.

 

What if he was in my field? On an emotional level, I’m still going to say no. If he was in the US and had a career here, it gets trickier because we probably already share some of the same network contacts anyway. Generally, though, I have no desire to find out what my exes are doing. I wish them all good luck in their endeavors, but I don’t really want to hear about it. And if they hit the jackpot or are really successful, then I really don’t want to hear about it. I know some people stalk their exes on social media, but that’s just not me. Do I look up people who were mean to me in high school and see if they’re less successful than me in true Romy-and-Michele fashion? Sure – that’s just normal. Nothing wrong with looking up an old frenemy or nemesis, but stalking is a no-no in my book.

 

What do you guys think? Am I right to avoid Mr. Visa Issues? Or should I connect to him and awkwardly explain to my future husband (whomever he may be) why I’m linked to him in the future?

 

Thanks for reading!

-M

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: