so you think you can hold the world up by a string…

so you think you can hold the world up by a string.

You’re a tough crowd, Blogistan. I recently update this joint after a three weeks’ hiatus, and I get complaints that the post isn’t sufficiently about me. Not to mention the fact that every time I write about male friends/acquaintances/nice guys at Borders/old men at the post office and at cafes, my audience (that would be you) invariably articulates their suspicion that said male figure is hitting on me. JESUS. Peace be upon him.

Lucky for you, I have a love affair with post-it pads (and, more recently, pocket-sized Moleskine notebooks, discovered while shopping for birthday presents for my brother), and carry one (or two or three) around with me wherever I go. The end result? Three weeks’ worth of words, phrases, experiences, snippets of conversation, lines randomly recalled and quickly scribbled down in the midst of lectures and discussion sections, just so I could share them with you all on the weblog. That hiatus turned out to be a but more extensive than I had anticipated. I need to get all this stuff out of my head, and, although I could probably make individual weblog entries out of each of these, I’m far too lazy to even attempt such an endeavor. For your edification and amusement, then, I present an update almost entirely about me, list-style based off my post-it notes, and with minimal references to guys. Imagine that.

– The past month’s conversations included such highlights on my part as:

“Hi, I’m calling to check on the status of that tow truck I called in for, about forty minutes ago… What? No, I’m not in Southern California!”


“I’ve taken almost enough English classes at this campus to declare a minor in it, if I wanted. What do you mean I still need to take English 101?!”

Between these and a host of other disagreeable experiences, I’m sure you’re starting to see why I mentally referred to these as my What the French-Connection-UK! weeks. They were filled mainly with thoughts of homicide, and attempts to squash an ever-present rising surge of profanity in my head, and made me feel, by turns, like crying or smashing something. And since I’m not much of a crier, being a lean, mean, green smashing machine felt like a good option. Except I think Najm already has first dibs on being the Incredible Hulk. It felt like one really, really long day, the kind you’re just itching to use the “fast forward” button on.

– Let me tell you about my major advisor. My major advisor has the expressionless, dead stare down to an art. It’s highly disconcerting to be confronted with that blank look when I’m stopping by to get some questions answered and to ask for advice. Because she’s an advisor, no? No, apparently not. My advisor is not supposed to make me do a teeth-gritting, fist-clenching, sidewalk-stomping dance of annoyance in downtown Sacramento while trying not to shout on the phone at her that, “No, my minor is from the College of Letters & Science! So my minor petition is not supposed to go to the Dean’s office at Ag&ES; it’s supposed to go to the Dean’s office at Letters & Science, even though my major is at Ag&ES!” My advisor is also not supposed to ask in response to this, “Are you sure?” Yes, I’m sure, dammit, because I’ve made phone calls and tracked people down and verified everything I needed to know and even everything I didn’t need to know. Why are you not sure, is the question.

My major advisor also has a deplorable habit of answering one single freakin’ question of mine, then getting up and crossing the room to stand by the door while I’m still sitting next to her desk, mouth half-open to launch into my next question. Apparently, this is her signal that my time is up. No “Do you have any further questions?” No “Is there anything else I could help you with today?” Not even an “Okay, bye.” As I mentioned to my sister once, “I want closure, dammit!” The last time I was there, my advisor pulled the same “getting-up-and-heading-for-the-door” maneuver. I rolled my eyes and followed, accustomed to this by now. At the door, she flicked her finger against the stack of papers I held in my hand and asked, “What are these?”
“These,” I replied coldly, “concern other questions I wanted to ask you, but apparently you don’t have time for them today.”

My major advisor is an incompetent buffoon, my minor advisor is never available and should thus never have been granted that position, and how come I have a faculty advisor I never even knew about? No one tells me these things. Also, people who are getting paid to supposedly make my life easier should be doing exactly that. But, no, I am surrounded by morons.

Yes, I’m kind of bitter. I’m almost over it, don’t worry. Like I said, it’s been a long few weeks.

– H#4 (I have too many friends with “H” and “S” names. I swear I’m going to start numbering them like this) tried to talk me out of skipping class one day by grimly informing me that, based on her calculations, each time I skip one lecture, I am wasting $25 of that quarter’s tuition. My friends are such engineering nerds, can you tell?

– My new favorite word to use in everyday conversation is “periodically.” I do a lot of things periodically. Like skip breakfast, skip class, and not study.

– The last two movies I watched were Fida and The Notebook. I know, I know, I can’t believe I watched the latter either. If I could, I would surgically remove the memory from my mind. The best part about both movies was that everyone dies in the end. There, I gave it all away. Anyway, The Notebook was horrifically sleep-inducing, and I can’t believe all the girls I know kept recommending it to me. Geez louise. My sister and I were not impressed. Bean summed up our disappointment and disgust by pointing out, “Maybe it’s just that we’ve lost our sense of subtle details. We’ve gotten so used to the desi films that we can’t handle stuff like The Notebook anymore, because we’re just waiting for a full-out brawl.” Besides, that night I had a nightmare related to the movie. I swear. And I don’t usually even have nightmares.

– Somayya and I saw a Hummer limousine in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago.

– The first day of NPB lecture, having come to class unprepared, I asked the girl next to me, “Can I borrow a coupla sheets of paper off you?” Yeah, I know, how do you borrow paper? I guess I should have said, “Would you mind if I asked you for a few sheets of paper?” Not that it matters anyway, because I only took about two lines worth of notes and then ended up sleeping through most of the lecture, and the girl gave me a cold stare on my way out. I’m sorry I wasted your paper that I borrowed, geez freakin’ louise. Would you like it back now that I’m done borrowing it?

– My new favorite poem is T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday. Deja vu when I got to the lines, Teach us to care and not to care/Teach us to sit still. I have read those somewhere before, a decade ago in a book I can’t recall.

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us


Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.

– I am taking two science courses this quarter – NPB (neurobiology, physiology, and behavior) and MCB (molecular and cellular biology). Yes, gross, I know. God knows why I felt the need to put these off until now, seeing as how I’m not a science person, except for the fact that I used to be really good at physics. But as long as they don’t start talking about cellular respiration and the Krebs Cycle and all that drama, I should be okay. Taking classes with freshmen and sophomores is always amusing, though. They’re the ones who show up to line outside the lecture hall twenty minutes before class even begins. But it’s okay, because I keep getting mistaken for a seventeen year old anyway, so I blend in just fine. Plus, I’m still perpetually dazed and confused all the time, and I rarely look both ways before crossing the street.

– The first day of class, a guy in my MCB lecture leaned over to ask, “Excuse me, you’re not Fatima, are you?”
Who is Fatima and why does she look like me, is what I want to know.

– I’m officially losing my mind. The following three conversations are all the proof you need:

1) In a phone conversation a couple of weeks ago, Somayya and I were bemoaning the fact that we rarely see each other this quarter. “I know!” I said, “and we don’t even do our regular family weekend visits to see you all anymore.” Except I accidentally said “weekend wisits,” and Somayya and I both dissolved in laughter. It’s over, kids. I am officially a fob.

2) Last week at work, my co-worker K kept urging me to hurry up and finish the stuff I was working on, so that we could have our meeting. “We need to meet before 12!” he kept repeating, “because at 12, I’m leaving to go skiing in Lake Tahoe.”
“Stop trying to rush me,” I finally snapped. “Just because you’re going snowing does not mean our work schedules have to revolve around you and your stupid Lake Tahoe trip.”
“Snowing?” asked Somayya innocently. “What’s that?”
“I meant, skiiing. Or snowboarding. Or whatever the hell he’s planning on doing up there.”

3) “Tuesday Morning’s having a sale,” remarked my dad over dinner the other night. We love Tuesday Morning. How can you not be in love with a place that has everything 50-80% off?
We peered at the ads together.
“I don’t get this one,” I said. “They’re selling watches. Why are there random sunflowers in the picture?”
“You know,” said my dad. “Sunflowers? The sun? Time? Watches? See?”
I continued looking blank. “I still don’t get it.”
My dad gave me a pitying look and rolled his eyes, which is always hilarious to watch, because he absolutely does not know how to roll his eyes, so he always rolls his head around instead. “Okay,” he said. “You know how you can tell the time based on the position of the sun?”
“Ohh…” [pause] “Wait, why are the sunflowers there though?”
“Because sunflowers always face in the direction of the sun. Duh.” Except my dad doesn’t know how to say “duh” either, so it always comes out sounding like “daa.”
“Oh yeah. I think I used to know this, a long time ago.”
In the next life, I am going to be blonde.

– My NPB teaching assistant pronounces the word “iron” exactly the way it’s spelled: eye-ron. [I say “eye-yern.” How do you pronounce “iron”?] This was in reference to the structure of hemoglobin, or something. Clearly, I do not know anything about hemoglobin. Or anything about science at all, for that matter. Biology is bidah. The end.

That was a joke, by the way. I mentioned in an email to a friend the other day: “As one of my favorite Bay Area scholars/students of knowledge said in a speech recently, re. the Muslim community’s tendency to point fingers at one another and obsessively label things as haraam/bidah: ‘Well, you know what, YOU’RE HARAAM!’ “

– I’ve also recently realized that I never pronounce the “d” in “fundraiser”: Funraiser.

– Halaqa outing: As we were driving up Mt. Diablo, I remarked in reference to the hardcore bicyclists who were pedaling up the mountain: “Man, that’s hella exertion.”
My sister: “You just used ‘hella’ and ‘exertion’ in the same sentence. There’s something wrong with you.”
Me: “Hey, I’m a California girl with vocabulary, what can I say.”

– Yesterday, my right eye finally stopped twitching after three weeks. That’s an indicator of stress and exhaustion, someone once told me during freshman year. Some things just never change.

– Not to say that there weren’t good things about the past few weeks either. Like the Friday that was filled with rockstar friends, two (count ’em, TWO!) real meals, ice cream, offers to race down the stairs, jokes about the FBI watch list, and hilarious white-girl renditions of “I love you, 50 Cent! Holler!” And the officially labeled Tuesday From Hell, when I decided to “screw it all” (one of many such decisions in recent history) and finally escaped to the public park and sat on a sunny hill, eating french fries and watching the elementary school team play softball. And…well, I know there have been more memorable (in a good way) moments like that. It’s just difficult to be suitably grateful sometimes, and to keep track adequately. I think this post is an attempt at that. Sort of.

– The funniest thing to happen this week was when I set off the alarm at work. Apparently, you still need to have the security guard swipe you on your way out the main doors after 6pm, regardless of whether you have your employee ID card on you. I, inefficient multitasker that I am, dialed a friend’s number on my cell phone just as I was about to leave the building. At the exit doors, I swiped my ID card, heard a beep, and watched the little red light turn to green. At the exact moment my friend answered the phone, I pushed open the door and the alarms started blaring. It was great stuff, and I think the friend at the other end of the line was just as amused by the whole thing as I was. Luckily, the security guard was, too.

– Does your father call you on his rainy drive home to leave voicemessages in which he sings, “Raindrops are falling on my head! La la la la la lalala”? No? I thought not.

– I’m not a big fan of grape-flavored anything. Except real grapes, and sour green ones at that. But someone’s gotta finish all the popsicles I bought back when I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled. All those mornings of grabbing a red/green/orange popsicle out of the freezer for breakfast on my way out the door to school are over, and the purples ones are the only ones left. Six whole purple popsicles. Not so bad after all, actually, although I’m still not really a fan. But it leaves your tongue looking so dark purple, it’s almost black, which is pretty slick.

– I attended the Birth of a Prophet event at UC Berkeley a couple of weeks ago. It was even more beautiful and spiritually uplifting than I had hoped it would be, and you can keep your outcries of “Bidah!” to yourself, please. Amusingly enough, the event coincided with Cal Day, so I was bombarded with ads and posters and pamphlets and “Hi, do you have any questions?” while making my way through Sproul Plaza. Listen, I know I look like a seventeen year old, but no, I’m not a prospective incoming freshman, okay? I have enough issues being a prospective graduating senior, as it is, thanks.

– Every morning on my way to school, about forty miles from home, I pass a huge yellow/orange billboard advertisement for San Diego, advising, “CHANGE VIEWS, NOT CHANNELS.” 2Scoops, I’m looking right at you: Stop trying to infiltrate Northern California.

– The best way to make yourself feel better about an MCB midterm you more likely failed the hell out of is to sit in the sunshine and drink a medium-size hot chocolate with whipped cream. When the girl making your drink notices your drawn face and bleary eyes and turns around from the machine to ask kindly, “Would you like extra whipped cream on that?” just answer, “Yes, please.” There are few things in life that sunshine, hot chocolate, and extra whipped cream cannot make you feel better about.

– Also, strawberry ice cream with chunks of cheesecake is hella good stuff. Add that to the list. And blue raspberry jolly ranchers, especially when they’re vindictively grabbed by the handful from the candy jar of my major advisor who is a moron.

– As of yesterday, I have officially canceled my minor. Indecisions and revisions indeed. I thought it was going to hurt – and it did hurt for the past three weeks I spent agonizing over it – but, surprisingly, I’m more at peace with the final decision than I thought I would be. So, instead of seven classes (yes, I was somehow registered for seven classes, the seventh one being a microbiology class my advisor thought I needed – which I didn’t, but she’s a moron, as we have already established – and which I had forgotten I was even enrolled in) and twenty-seven units, which is absolutely insane for a quarter system (nine weeks of instruction, tenth week is final exams) if not even otherwise, I am now down to four classes and sixteen units. Much more manageable.

“Pay attention!” I crowed yesterday afternoon to my office colleagues at large, whatever of them remained past 5pm. “This is a monumental occasion!” I typed the “permission to drop” numbers that the Dean’s Office had given me into their respective fields on the computer, then theatrically wiggled my fingers above the keyboard in my best “spirit fingers” imitation.

“What are you doing?” asked K, looking up from his computer.
“I’m saying ‘eff it all’ to the program.”
“What program?”
“The ‘Yasmine wants to graduate with this Social & Ethnic Relations minor that she’s absolutely in love with’ program.”

Thank you to all you rockstars who offered their input in regards to my “How useful/useless/irrelevant is a minor?” questions. If I didn’t ask you, I’m sorry, I love you, I was lazy, and you’re a rockstar, too.

– That said, this “screw the minor” deal only serves to reinforce my feeling that I’m one of those total slackers who diligently pursues something almost to the end, only to give it up in the last five seconds. This is a recurring theme in my life. Like last week, when I was up until 3am studying for an MCB quiz, only to be late to class the next morning because I couldn’t find parking. So, instead, I skipped class (and the quiz) and slept in my car for an hour, then woke up and, instead of heading over to my next class, I walked over to the student union and took another 2-hour nap in the study lounge. This nap-taking business is outta control.

– This morning, I used the carpool lane to pass a slow bus. I’m pretty sure this is highly illegal maneuver, but, what can I say, I love living life on the edge.

– I’m typing this out at work. K just stalked past me to get to his desk, a grim expression on his face. He pulled out his top desk drawer with a deafening bang, muttering, “I’m so hungry!”
“Yeah, me too,” I said sympathetically.
“And there’s nothing to eat around here,” he continued, fishing around in the drawer.
“Are you looking for your topsecret candy stash?”
“No,” he replied, pulling out a handful of what looked like condiment packets.
“Is that mustard?” I asked, spying a yellow packet.
“No, this calls for honey.”
“Dude. Are you seriously going to eat honey out of the packet like that?”
“Yeah. It’s soo good. See?”
“Good lord. Here, eat some Reese’s,” I offered, shoving my bag of miniature peanut butter cups his way.
“No way, honey is so much healthier.”

– My co-worker B just walked by. He stopped long enough to ask, “Have you ever seen a chicken with its head cut off?”
“Yes,” I replied, “several times,” thinking of all those months in Pakistan.
“Oh. Well, I never have.”
“It’s okay, you’re not really missing out.”
“Oh, okay. Just making sure.”

Why do I work with the weirdest people in the world?

– Yes, I still like Maroon 5, but I have a short attention span and I get highly annoyed when songs I once liked are constantly played over and over on the radio. Therefore, Maroon 5 is not as cool as Keane, whom no one except I seems to have heard of. Besides, how could you not like a band who’s British and therefore sings “cahn’t stop now,” which, to my ears, accustomed as they are to American pronunciation, sounds absolutely hilarious and cool. My lovely L lady, after looking at the cover of Keane’s album, wondered quite disparagingly why rock musicians never have much in the way of looks. Somayya and I contended that it’s because rockstars are more concerned with how good their music is rather than with how good they themselves look. So there, take that!

Yes, I admit it, I have fairly mainstream taste in music. I don’t really know obscure bands. All the obscure bands I do know start becoming rich and famous and everyone else knows who they are, too, and that just ruins the whole thing.

Speaking of music, no song has ever made me grin so widely as Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Perhaps I haven’t heard it often enough, so that explains why I’m not tired of it yet. Which reminds me – Gavin DeGraw, you’re a hella slick singer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist and all that, but I enjoy your music more when I’m listening to it off my discman and less when it plays on repeat on the radio. Stop it. Also, new favorite musicians, discovered while browsing at Borders when I should have been in class, include: Amos Lee, Ari Hest, Joss Stone, and Rachel Yamagata. I think. I’m not sure, since I haven’t listened to everything yet. But still, links are fun. Go explore.

– I need to edit my template. I need to edit the sidebar with the Gavin DeGraw lyrics, because I love that song but not when it plays on the radio. I need to edit my blogroll. I need to edit my life. Lemme know if you have any suggestions. Meanwhile, much love, have beautiful days, all that good stuff.

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