06 April 2011


So, now that I am neck deep in thesis, I find my creative juices depleted and this has motivated me to move towards using the simplest language possible in all other areas of life. Today's word is STUPID.

There are many things that are stupid, including but not limited to disproportionate budget cuts to ethnic, area, and women's and gender studies centers at UT Austin. Additionally, not sleeping as much as I want, not being able to enjoy the beautiful weather, and having no time to bake cakes is STUPID. So is money, trying to find employment, the Republican Congress, concealed weapons on campus, Rick Perry, Hummers and expensive plane tickets. There is so much more, but procrastinating my thesis is also stupid...and I digress. Someone give me a shoulder/head rub. Bah-Humbug.


21 March 2011

oh, hay! where have you been?

It has been a long time since my last post, but things have been moving right along here in the beautiful, fabulous, Austin, Texas. I've been keeping busy, primarily with school and organizing, but I've also gotten better at having fun too. Like anything else, you have to make time for it! So, my thesis, exploring the building and performing of queer Muslim American identity is occupying the majority of my time, and will probably force me to not see or speak to most of you the entire month of April unless you want to sit in silence with me at a coffee house, I could always use more study pals. Also, Tati, Carina and I are prepping for two upcoming conferences, The Feminist Action Project's annual conference (April 1st-2nd) and CWGS Emerging Scholarship Conference (April 8th). Blurb below! (thanks to Tati)

Through creative performance and critical self-reflection, this panel explores recent organizing efforts on behalf of three feminist organizers from the Students Speak (TSS), a student and community-centered organization at UT-Austin. Currently slated for disproportionate budget reductions, ethnic, gender and identity centers at UT-Austin brace for unprecedented financial attacks. This panel gives commentary on these attacks, providing critical perspective to administrative mandates, including details on the Academic Planning and Advisory Committee’s (APAC) proposal to reduce funding for ethnic, gender and identity centers at the university, and student and community responses against these actions. Using sweet potato curry as a metaphor, panelists describe the ongoing process of feminist organizing and the difficult work of tethering seemingly disjointed perspectives, experiences and ideologies to common points of unity against proposed budget cuts and the infrastructural power paradigms that sustain them.

Beyond this, we've been working hard against budget cuts at UT, and fighting for equal access and the right to quality education for all through The Students Speak (the studentsspeak.com).

Also, Sheeva and I have been kicking some ass on behalf of women's health and Planned Parenthood by organizing Austin's Walk for Choice 2011!

Plus, I am graduating in May! HAAAYYYY!!!! Beyond all of this academic/organizing business I have really been enjoying the queer community in Austin the last few months. With the revival of Camp Camp (queer performance night/variety show), GayBiGayGay 2011, and upcoming QueerBomb! this summer I will definitely be enjoying myself. (and this is the beautiful Rebecca Havemeyer!!)

I've also made a habit out of Austin Poetry Slam the past year now, and try to never miss a Tuesday night slam at Spider House. It is really the one thing that I do every single week, and I hope some of you will run into us regulars in the coming months and enjoy some of the most talented wordsmiths you'll ever have the pleasure of experiencing.

Also, here is this to enjoy! Workout! with Erica Nix! God, I love her!!

So, that's what I'm up to! How about you folks? I would love some updates! Emails and snail-mails about your lives would be fantastic! SO so so so much love!!! Muah!

07 December 2010


To my women,

You lovey strong women (of color, or not, queer, or not, and of fluid gender, or not) who have inspired, loved, and comforted me this past year...thank you. I give back to you all as often as I can, and being as diverse as our needs are this sometimes means tearful hugs in bed, cooking delicious meals, dancing, bike rides, writing papers all night coffees houses, or distracting each other from our "real" work by discussing Gloria Anzaldua's "Borderlands". In honor of the diversity of ways in which we support one another I wanted to share an excerpt from "We Don't Need Another Wave," entitled "A Time to Hole Up and a Time to Kick Ass: Reimagining Activism as a Million Different Ways to Fight."

Here, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha describes how she struggled to remain active (in a large-scale organizational way) in her causes, but never ceased to struggle towards justice in everyday life. This is one of the few places were I found what I felt was an accurate representation of how we all struggle together. She describes how disheartened she was when it came to dealing with the post-9-11 harassment of people of color and the violent images broadcast of the casualties from the places they were fighting to save. Being afraid to leave the house or be present at large-scale actions and feelings of hopelessness with regards to our causes seem to be issues that echo in our family.

She describes how isolated and despair-ridden she felt after attempting to get involved with the local movement against the wars, and how she chose to stay at home and avoid organizing all together becasue of the way organizing was approached. "This is what it felt like to try and do traditional activism when you're so physically and emotionally attached to the subject matter...[we were] stuck in the kind of old-school activism that Aya de Leon describes as 'an endless series of meetings where people sit on their butt, get stiff backs, feel hungry, have to go to the bathroom, get dehydrated, and stay up in their heads'" (170-180). As we move forward in organizing for these causes that we are so intimately involved, it will be important for us to remember all of the things that count as activism. Realize that everything we do is activism. Piepzna-Samarasinha says it best here: "I decided that my kind of activism was the kind of activism women of color do on a daily basis. Everything I did to keep myself alive--from holding down my job to painting my toenails to building and using my altar to cooking up big pots of sweet potato curry with my girlfriends..." (172).

It itsn't the whole way in which we struggle (we need large-scale organization as well), but it is a significant hunk. For this reason we must seek to get creative/validate creative approaches to fighting on behalf of the emotions that brought us to the table to begin with.

As we continue to support one another and organize towards a greater realization of human rights for all, I want to commend you for being the most amazing people I have ever met and most of all congratulate you on kicking so much ass.

I look forward to many many amazing years with you all.

All my love,


16 October 2010


I'm sitting at the Bennu coffee house, next to the biggest window I can find, soaking up some sun and casual tunes. The reason I am really here is because I absolutely must write today. I need to write my statement of purpose, or at least a skeleton version, by the end of the day. I am perplexed as to how this is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. How can that be?

To begin, I needed to pinpoint exactly what it was that led me to this moment. Why study religion? Why have I become concerned with multi-layered identities, particularly regarding overlaps of religiosity, sexuality, and nationality? It took a few cups of coffee and paced journey around the building to realize exactly when that switch had flipped.

The moment I set foot on Yemeni soil I grabbed my bags from the ground in the shadow of the plane and dragged them into the airport. I was greeted by a representative from the college I was to attend and he handed me a pen and a single sheet of paper, “Inti laazam tuqa’ kida, lo samaat.” (you have to sign this, please). So, I gripped the pen and began the first letter of my signature, I was in a travel-induced daze, that is until my eyes glimpsed the word “jinssiya.” Sexuality. For the first time in my life that word actually had meaning, it was real. I was signing a gag order on my sexuality. I was signing a document that stated if I discussed my sexuality while in the country, the college would no longer be responsible for my safety. As the death penalty is still a viable punishment for homosexuality in Yemen; this meant if I disclosed my queerness while in the country, they would not be on my side of the aisle in the courtroom.

For the time being, I was no longer a queer American feminist and activist, I was just an American girl. Being of a national, religious, and sexual minority complicated my already delicate and muddled identity while in the country. I believe it was this period of my life that helped me understand what was so unique about minority identity development. Upon returning to the States, this experience helped me reorient my ideas in thinking about diaspora and minority communities and the difficulties of cultural assimilation.

So, maybe none of you reading care, even the slightest bit, about my grad. applications, but at the very least, send good vibes my way. I have my work cut out for me.

Love you all,


22 September 2010

"We had been everywhere. We had really seen nothing."

Today, deep breath out, was eclectic and full. The day started out a bit reflective and somber, a bit of writing, reading, and napping, only to look up from a half-written paper to realize I had just completely missed math class. Although, missing math class was not all that big of a deal. So, the somberness moved in a crescendo that peaked with great sadness and settled in gratitude. As many of you may know, I lost a great love to a horrible bike accident in the last year, and some days my thoughts are just full of him. Anyhow, by the end of the day, I was just so happy to have ever been afforded the opportunity to experience that kind of ocean of feeling, I could do nothing more than smile.

Also, today was a day that ended in reward. My new bike finally came into the Peddler bike shop, and wow, she is fantastic. Steel, great geometry for a person with a longer upper body, sturdy, smooth, fantastic. There she is pictured below, although, I also have a steel frame on the back of her to carry my roll-tops.
So, this evening I went to meet Ashley at Bennu, and got a bit carried away with my new ride and passed one of my turns by nearly 10 blocks. By the time I had gotten home, I had ridden her nearly 20 miles, it was so nice to have a bike whose pieces all actually fit together and work properly together. There is nothing wrong with a skillfully assembled piece meal street bike, but a brand new one...damn. Anyhow, so my goal in taking her out tonight was to find her a name. Usually my bikes are named after male literary characters: Roark, José Arcadio Buendía, Darcy, Yossarian. But, this bike had some cute pink stripes on her and I had this urge for her to be a "her" this time. So, drum roll....she shall be called Lolita.So, the rest of the week looks like: Exam tomorrow, PSC tabling, and plenty of errands, as well as Thesis meetings all Friday, Tubing, potluck, and harvest moon ride Saturday, and garage sale/homework Sunday. Have a good one people.


21 September 2010

Sexual Harassment for Breakfast

"Hey gorgeous," called the forty-something year-old man from his silver Honda as he slowed down to talk to me, "where are you headed? You need a ride?"
Embarrassed to be called to (especially wearing the ankle-length grandma skirt and frumpy sweater I was sporting), I replied, "No, thank you, I am just headed right up the street to the bus stop."
"Oh, I mean after that, you pretty thing; I can drop you wherever," he assured me.
"Well, thanks for the offer, but I rather like riding the bus, thanks."
"Ahh, come on gorgeous," he moaned as he pulled his car closer to me, "I can be your boyfriend for the day. I can take you to school, pick you up, take you to dinner, and afterward..."
"No thanks," I interrupted, as I was pretty sure I did not care to hear the rest of that.
His temper rose, "Oh, what...you some kind of lesbian or somethin'? Cause I would pay a whole lot of money to watch that. Come on gorgeous, get your pretty ass in the car and let me take you home with me."
At this point my hands were shaking, if he grabbed me and pulled me into his car on this street...no one would see, no one would hear. Two more blocks until there would be people, maybe not even people that would help me, but at least people. He was becoming angry, as I just kept repeating, "No thank you, no thank you, no thank you."
"Don't fuck with me honey, just get in the car."
We rounded the corner to see there had been a car accident, which meant loads of firemen were gathered just across the street from my bus stop. What to do, what do I do...run. So, I did just that. I ran. I ran and my eyes filled with tears and one of the firemen turned around just as I was a few yards away. I grasped both of his hands with mine and gasped, "This man has been following me for four blocks, please help." Just in time for Mr. silver honda to peel out, run the red light, and be too far away for anyone to figure out who he was.

After taking a moment to calm down, I became angry at myself for feeling so helpless. But, honestly, what could have been done differently, nothing. I suppose I assumed that dressing and acting rather conservatively would protect you from this kind of harassment. The difficult truth is, nothing can protect you from this kind of harassment. Maybe getting some pepper spray, or a tazer or something would be of some use, but at the end of the day, that would not have kept this man from calling out to me, or propositioning me, or cursing at me from his car. Nor would it keep my hands from sweating and my heart from pounding, because sexual harassment and rape are scary things, and everyone's hearts should pound when the subject comes up. And it comes up often: approximately 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

Anyhow, this morning was eventful, to say the least, and I felt that I could not go on with the rest of my day until I told someone about it. So, I'm telling all of you. Keep a lookout for a middle-aged man in a silver honda in the Muller area (East 51st Street).


16 September 2010

business hours.

Why does the world seem so much bigger at night. Is it becasue it is emptier? People are sleeping and not filling the air with words and car exhaust, not filling the streets. Everything feels bigger, even my courage is greater. I have so many things I will say to so many people when it is night. When the sun comes up it all disappears-my big grand ideas and all of my courage. Daylight means get back to school, commuting, managing life; get back to work, it is business hours.