I think in backwards English, and I have for decades. I may have started in elementary school. I’m not sure precisely why I started developing backwards English. I say “develop” because there is a whole system of rules that I’ve devised and occasionally still modify. For example:
The emphasis is always on the same syllable that’s emphasized in standard English.
The ending -tion (as in salvation or conniption) is pronounced “noyt”; there is no “sh” sound.
I never say God backwards and I never say dog backwards. Bad words to mix up.
I use the word “oy” instead of the word “I.”
The sound “ch” is pronounced like the letter “kha” in Arabic, or like the Hebrew kha in “chanukah.” So “speech” is pronounced “kheeps.” “Sh” is pronounced “zh.”
I usually don’t translate proper names or foreign words backwards.
There are other rules but I won’t list every single one here lest I interrupt the time you need to digest the fact that I do this at all.
Everywhere I go I translate things into backwards English in my head. So if I pass a sign that says “Exit 34” in my head I think “tizgeh etrit ruof.” That’s the best transliteration I can do. Recently I started speaking backwards English aloud (when I’m alone) to see how it sounds. It’s surprisingly hard to speak even though it’s the language I think in.
Now if you’re ever asked a trivia question about me you can answer correctly.
(Trying to get warmed up to write.)
Over the last few months a work-related issue has resulted in my once again becoming the target of the haters. I say once again because I got hated on throughout the time I regularly wrote my Chronicle blog. The very first post, in 2006, resulted in my being hated for being Muslim, but also for being religious. It frequently stung but it also became a routine part of blogging. At times I had tantrums and threatened to never blog again or never post comments again, but I got over it and carried on.
Things are different now that I work for CAIR. There’s not that direct a line between my paycheck and my detractors, but it’s a lot harder to say no when I’m getting paid to do things some find provocative.
I’m being kind of vague because I don’t want to give the incident more attention than it deserves. However, I recently saw on Facebook (damn that social media) that as part of the “campaign” against me (really, poor effort) someone has directed people to this website, my work email and my Twitter account.
It feels weird to be specifically targeted again, even though this “campaign” has resulted in very little response.
Words have power. When they’re whiny but trying to give off a sense of power they are much weaker. So I don’t dare my detractors to be smarter. I dare them to use words for power.
I finally got (or finally understood, or a combination of both) the schedule of key dates for my fourth, last, final and ultimate semester at Goucher.
What it boils down to is that I have a couple months to write like a madwoman and God willing on August 2 I will be a proud Gopher walking in commencement. Hopefully I’ll be a nicer-looking Gopher than the one in that logo. He’s like the Meth Gopher.
Anyway, root for me as I head towards 150 pages of personal essay and memoir.
I’m two months into my last semester at Goucher! My mentor for this semester is Phillip Gerard and I think he’s going to provide the guidance I need to get this manuscript done.
He’s using – and so I’ve started using – two words I’ve resisted since I first applied to Goucher. I never intended to write a BOOK and I definitely never planned to write a MEMOIR. I resisted the thought of writing a book because I wanted to just write individual long-form pieces, then I got a job, then I was writing essays, and now Phillip is calling it a book and guiding me to put the separate pieces together so they actually tell a story.
And the story turns out to be about me, my experiences, my thoughts, around being Muslim, about Islam in America, and about just stuff whether it’s thematic or not. And so it is a memoir.
I used to mock memoirists because it seemed self-absorbed to write about oneself and because I thought of memoirs as diaries. I guess I can laugh at myself now. Or I can get busy and finish this MEMOIR.