What Do You Do?

Americans introduce themselves by profession as a means of kind of assessing each other’s socioeconomic status right off the bat. We are such a capitalistic, sociologically oriented culture –I’m sorry, a caste oriented culture for lack of a better description– that what we want to do right off the bat is figure out who is worth listening to, who is important enough to merit respect, and who isn’t…We assess each other by visuals but we also assess each others by those non-visuals by that introduction of profession.”

N.K. Jemisin, “N.K. Jemisin’s Master Class in World Building,” The Ezra Klein Show.

My husband listens to podcasts a lot and shared with me this little clip from an Ezra Klein interview with fantasy ficton writer N.K. Jemisin. It affected him quite a bit, because he is a computer engineer working for a recognizable company. When he introduces himself and his job, he automatically gets afforded a level of respect. He’s educated. He’s making an above-average income. His job is secure. His job is considered valuable. While my husband sometimes feels awkward having to explain his job –it’s not the kind of work most people find interesting in detail– he never gets questioned as to why he chose it or whether he is a functioning citizen. And in a way, that bothers him, because he’s aware that when talking to someone who is working a less-paid, less-respected job, an implicit disparity in the respective value of each’s work comes into play and shapes the conversation. Once we met someone new and through the usual ritual of introductory chit-chat exchanged job summaries and found out that this person was working for his family business …of selling used cars. It immediately made the conversation awkward. Like the reveal at the end of a round of cards, engineer trumps used-car salesman, and from that starting point it felt awkward moving forward.

So what card do I carry? What do I do?

I’m a homemaker.

“…So… what do you do?”

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Sorry About That

Sorry, those of you who saw a post published this morning and then saw it disappear. I have a post fully written and had is scheduled to publish today, but some things have happened that make this post inappropriate at this time, so I’ve pulled it back into draft phase until some things are sorted out.

I shall try and give you a Quran posts ASAP in lieu, but I’ll need some extra time to finish my current half-baked one.

Hangups in Blogging

Sorry folks, but I haven’t been able to blog because my computer is in for repair. I’m writing (well “swiping) this on my phone app, which is a pretty rough experience. I usually avoid the app except for doing typo repairs.

Ideally I should’ve had a Quran post queued up to cover this week, but my attention has been diverted. Some other topics have been tickling my mind and I’ve tried typing them out with poor results. I realized that doing posts on the Quran is a little easier than writing about other topics. There are several reasons for this. It’s a little less personal than some of the topics I’ve tried, requiring less of my history to be out on display. I have some skills and materials that equip me with a little more authority than I have for other topics. Then there’s the fact that the Quran and its world is mostly new to me, meaning that my opinions are newly forming and a little isolated from my other opinions and perspectives. This makes it much simpler to write about.

Let me explain that last one.

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Spring Cleaning

The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the whole world calls me outside…into the pollen.

And while I’m at it, why not just open the windows and let the pollen in too? There’s a loblolly pine in almost every view, each with its clusters of pollen sending wafts into the beautiful breeze. But I love Houston’s spring weather, and this week I started to itch for some spring cleaning. While itching all over. I’ll just keep popping my allergy pills and reveling in it.

This also means that I’m not prepared for a post today. I’ll be prepared next week for Surah 22, and in the meantime I hope you treat your eyes to some long distance vistas of the coming green. Cheers.

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Photo by Roberta Guillen on Unsplash

Citation Needed

One of my most shameless abuses of this blog’s category of “opinion blog” is that I link to Wikipedia quite frequently, and there’s a very good reason for this.

It’s free!

In my post-college life, nothing has been more difficult than finding information. Wikipedia is easy to access, easy to explore, and easy to share. Yet still my academic background does twinge with a little guilt at how often I rely on Wikipedia to fill out background for some of the concepts I mention in my blogs posts.

Today I’d like to explain Wikipedia: why I use it, how to read it, and how to make it better.

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Lost in Transliteration

Arabic-letters-pronunciation-drawingIf you want to learn Arabic through written materials, you should learn the alphabet. You just should. There are some books out there that will string you along with English phonetic spellings, but that has problems. And since in writing this blog I’ve had to attempt some kind of WordPress compatible transliteration, I want to spend just a little time revealing my problems to you. If you haven’t caught on yet, I hope you’ve noticed that I try and write transliterated words in italics. Sure sometimes I emphasize English words in italics too, but I’ve decided to use an old Arabic trick and let context tell you when I’m doing what.

So be ye warned, trivia ahead.

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“For women,” eh?

I don’t feel the need to have a woman in a movie to watch it. If a film has an entirely male cast, it doesn’t bother me unless the men make a point of bashing and excluding women. What is hard to swallow is that there aren’t many movies centered around the interactions of women. They exist, but they seem to have a hard time spreading into other genres–particularly adventure type stories. Movies with primarily female casts seem to also often be movies about being women, instead of just human beings who happen to be women. A movie like “Up” could be just as good with a cantankerous old woman and ambitious girl-scout. “Mean Girls” done with boys doesn’t translate too well.

And yet, whenever a movie comes out claiming to be “female centric” my eye gets very critical. I rather wish that it could just come out without having to push for a gender-representation angle on publicity, but I understand why it happens. They’re making an effort to even out the representation, and that’s very nice of them and good for our culture. Yet when they bank the hype of a movie on the fact that it’s aimed to feature my half of the gender pool, it makes it all the worse when they do a bad job. It’s not enough to get a sloppy present and hear them say “But I made this for you.” What movie am I leading to?

Well, well, well…

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