That’s Master of Fine Arts to you bro!

After three years and much self-doubt, procrastination and shaky focus, on August 2 I finally earned my MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. My perspective on the program shifted throughout those years, which included two semesters leave when I started working at CAIR, but in the end I cranked out just enough pages to graduate (the requirement is 150; my thesis was 151) and now I have some pretty good material to polish and publish. I don’t know if it will ever become a book. My brain is resting today and tomorrow I go back to my new full-time job of freelancing. The great news is that last week I got my first gig. I’ll be writing a biweekly column on civil rights for MuslimMatters. More about that when it is official. Advertisements

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Putting it all together

Hooray! I have at last returned to The Straight Path, my blog on the Houston Chronicle’s website. On April 24, 2013 I wrote a post titled “Coming out of hiding” in which I wrote: I guess it’s a good time news-wise to talk about being an American Muslim, so I might as well start now.  Stay tuned! But I didn’t. […]

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So much to say, so much to do

My last day at CAIR is July 24. Next week and the week after I’m working 20 hours a week. In other words, day job is winding down and I’m going back to freelancing. I have so much to say about all this, and have to be writing regularly anyway. There’s a week left of Ramadan, so my transition to the new life is a little low-key at the moment but I’ll be out the gate full force after the eid. I thought I’d grace this brief post by paying homage to Dave Matthews.

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On being hated

(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 […]

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The re-branding

I noted in my last post that I will start a new, full-time job in January.  As things turned out, I started yesterday on a part-time basis.  I’m working as the Communications Coordinator for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Texas.  On Monday morning I had orientation and yesterday morning spent three hours on my very first full-time job working in an office with real people since 2003.  I realized yesterday that this is also the first job I’ve ever had whose basis was not supporting someone else (clerically or administratively), but working on a team in support of an organizational vision. My first “real” job (as an adult, not enrolled in school) was as a secretary.  For 20 years I worked at different levels of that class of work.  I was a secretary, an administrative assistant, and ultimately an executive assistant (although never given that exact title).  I finally completed my bachelors degree in 2002, at the age of 41, and that year I was promoted to the position of associate director of one of the four inpatient facilities run by the healthcare organization I worked for.  It was “associate director” because I would be reporting to the organization director, but I would be the administrative head of that facility.  It was the place I belonged after a couple decades of supporting other people. Literally days before I was to start in that position, my supervisor […]

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