Eid Interning

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September 21st was my first day as a reporter assistant intern at News 12 New Jersey.  News 12 New Jersey is the local 24-hour cable television news channel, reaching more than 1.8 million homes in northern and central New Jersey and is part of News 12 Networks, the first, largest and most watched regional news channel in the U.S.

I work weekends. I’m a sucker who’s got classes Monday thru Friday, and my nights tend to be busy anyway, so it works out. Last Sunday, I suggested a story which I wanted to come in on Tuesday (yesterday) for. And the assignment editors took it.

A few years ago, my friends and I got ourselves into the fight for AlFalah Islamic Center’s mosque in Bridgewater. It was yet another case of people going, “Not in our town!,” although they cleverly backpedaled and presented the building of the mosque at the former Redwood Inn as a “traffic concern”. Mind you, we’d been having holiday prayers and I think some Friday prayers there for years.

On September 30th, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp ruled that Bridgewater Township can’t enforce a zoning ordinance that effectively meant the mosque could not be built at the site, as the ordinance was not passed until after AlFalah had submitted their application to build there. So after three years… victory! And guess who’s sitting in a newsroom when this happens?

I suggested to an assignment editor a story on Eid al-Adha for Tuesday, because Muslims are such a significant community in New Jersey, the state with the 2nd largest percentage of Muslims in the nation, population-wise. I wrote up the proposal and gave them the background– how Eid al-Adha is a major Muslim holiday in which we celebrate Prophet Ibrahim (aka Abraham)’s willingness to sacrifice his son (either Ismail [Ishmael] or Ishaq [Isaac], as it is not specified in the Qur’an) in submission to God’s command as well as his son’s willingness himself to be sacrificed. (For those of you who don’t know, don’t worry, God intervened and replaced the boy with a lamb, hence another Eid al-Adha tradition of sacrificing goats/lambs/cows/etc and distributing the meat to family, friends, and the poor.)

Now, stories aren’t decided on at News 12 until the morning of, so I had to call in around 7 o’clock in the morning yesterday and was connected to the reporter on the story, Sally Ann Mosey. She gave me the green light, and I met her at The Days Inn in Bridgewater, NJ where she covered the story quite spectacularly. It was only a vosot (short for “voiceover/sound on tape”) rather than a fully packaged story. I have yet to see any of it, but from what I heard, they showed the actual Eid prayers, people hanging out afterwards, and also an interview with a woman explaining the significance of the holiday that happens to be my mother. (I actually wasn’t there yet for that, but needless to say, she is now more okay with my career choice than ever.)

News 12 New Jersey speaking with AlFalah Center board member Omar Mohammedi. Photo courtesy of Arif Khan.

News 12 New Jersey speaking with AlFalah Center board member Omar Mohammedi.
Photo courtesy of Arif Khan.

Sally Ann Mosey speaking with Arshad Jalil, a member of AlFalah Center. Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Sally Ann Mosey speaking with Arshad Jalil, a member of AlFalah Center. (You can see part of yours truly on the right edge of the photo.)
Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Photo courtesy of Nelson Tun.

Photo courtesy of THE Nelson Tun.

I’m only an intern, but this is basically me setting into motion one of my career goals as a journalist. Not only did I bring more media attention to AlFalah’s fight for freedom of religion, but seeing Muslims pray and celebrate a holiday that commemorates an event familiar to Jews and the Christian mainstream points out what should be apparent to the average American, but isn’t: we are a faith just like any other, people like any other. We are nothing like those extremists who have hijacked our religion and brought terror to our world through their attacks on innocent people.

I took this one.

I took this one. Sally Ann speaking with Jalil.

One of the questions that I’ve heard or been asked the most by skeptics of Islam being a non-violent religion is Why don’t Muslims come out and condemn these terrorist attacks? Because, as you can see, we are busy living our lives.

I have heard many other Muslims say that it is not our job to speak up and say what should be obvious, that we shouldn’t have to answer for those who are distorting our religion beyond recognition. But I disagree. I think we should, as an ummah, come together and take offense to those who take the name of God and Islam in vain. If people can riot over an idiotic cartoon, then we can speak out against a suicide bombing or a plane crashing into a national landmark. I personally feel sick to my stomach every time I hear of a Muslim being connected to an attack– Mohamed Atta, Hani Hanjour, Richard Reid, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Faisal Shazad, Nidal Malik Hasan,  Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev. These people are nowhere near being the majority, and yet we are letting them be our representation in the media. The rest of us are going on and living our lives, and I personally think we should stop and try to find ways to contribute to the name of Islam. We are the legacy of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions, and we are not taking it seriously.

So this was my contribution. Eid Mubarak, everyone.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

Pakistan’s peace issues: the Shia genocide

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I once had a friend who told me they felt disrespected and looked down upon by their Sunni friends for being a Shia Muslim.

Now, I am no longer friends with said individual for a few very legitimate reasons. But not one of them has anything to do with religion, race, sex, orientation, or class. Nor do I believe that any of our friends cared what this friend believed in either. However, the fact that they even said this is very indicative of a huge problem the Islamic world has had since the death of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

We have absolutely failed as a collective Ummah when it comes to solidarity and acceptance of each other.

Nearly 50 people were killed in a bombing in Abbas Town, a predominantly Shia area in Karachi, Pakistan earlier this month. The attack is just the latest in a series of recent attacks by Sunni militant groups.

According to an article by the BBC:

“Some activists called 2012 the worst year in living memory for attacks on Pakistan’s Shia community, with rights groups estimating that about 400 perished in militant attacks.

But this year is also shaping up to be among the deadliest: nearly 200 people were killed in two separate bombings targeting Shias in the south-western city of Quetta in January and February.”

I was interning at The Express Tribune (Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated newspaper in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times) when several bombings took place in Quetta and the northern Swat Valley on January 10. 130 people were killed and at least 270 were injured. For days, the headlines covered the effects of the blasts as well as the ensuing protests, particularly one in which members of the Shia community and local Shia officials refused to bury their dead for four days until the army took control of security in the city.

Shia Muslims demonstrate by sitting amongst the bodies of blast victims two days after the attacks.PHOTO: AFP

Shia Muslims demonstrate by sitting amongst the bodies of blast victims two days after the attacks.
PHOTO: AFP

The very next month, at least 84 people were killed and 190 injured in yet another attack in Hazara Town, right outside Quetta. Most victims were of the ethnic Hazara community, a predominantly Shia demographic.

Pakistan has a history of Shias being persecuted, as do quite a few other predominantly Sunni Muslim countries. For as long as I can remember, every Muharram (one of the four sacred months of the Islamic calendar, and an especially important one for Shias) I hear about riots and attacks on Shia religious gatherings in my birthplace of Karachi. This past Muharram (November 14- December 14) seemed to have catalyzed something even worse than in years past. Thousands of men, women, and children have become victim to the violence, often caused by militant groups Lakshar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a Sunni militant organization with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Tabliban.

The violence is the work of militant groups with whom the large majority of Pakistanis strongly disagree.  But the fact of the matter is that not enough of the Muslim majority are speaking out against this.  And that stems from the fact that there is bias, there is misunderstanding, there is even hate coming from both Sunnis as well as Shias.

Both sects have a disturbing amount of ill will towards the other. Most of the time it is mild, but it is there. I do not personally know a single Muslim who condones violence in any form against others regardless of who or what they are, yet the subtle prejudices do exist. The aforementioned individual once went on a rant about the differences between Shiaism and Sunnism and literally deemed some of our beliefs “stupid”. This is a person whom always struck me as an intelligent one, yet here they were not only disrespecting their fellow Muslims but actually saying it straight to someone who adheres to Sunni Islam. I know quite a few Sunnis who have said things about Shias such as “They’re not true Muslims,” and “If you’re going to marry a Shia, you might as well marry a Christian.” Both Sunnis and Shias have inflicted violence upon each other, both groups have been discriminated against by the other but in many countries, Shias, as the 10% minority, lose.

I myself do very much disagree with some of the doctrines of Shia Islam. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be Sunni. But that does not mean that I feel I have the right to disrespect someone else for their beliefs. Us Muslims tend to be very intolerant of those who differ in beliefs from us, whether it is on the subject of the oneness of God or how high of a skirt a woman should be allowed to wear. We fight over these petty things and set a horrible example for rising generations when what we should be teaching them is tolerance, respect, and a love of peace and harmony. Without those basics, Islam is not Islam. Period.

And in Pakistan, where a little mentally challenged girl received death threats in a village for burning copies of the Qur’an, where a Christian federal minister was killed by the Taliban for pushing for reform of blasphemy laws, where the Hazara community has lost 800 of its own to terrorist attacks, its people tend to forget the words of a one particular Shia Muslim whom they claim to respect and adore:

You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader), founder of Pakistan and a Shia Muslim.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, also known as Quaid-e-Azam (Great Leader), founder of Pakistan and a Shia Muslim.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

New Year’s note for friends and family– old, new, and lost

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I can’t really explain 2012– it was confusing, both amazing and horrible at different times and in really intense ways. But I can say that this year absolutely solidified for me who is and who isn’t true to me, true to others, true to themselves. And rather than discovering, I clarified for myself just who I am and what I’m here to do.

I finally came to terms with the demons that have taken me under for the past four years, with the things that haunted me for far longer.  I realized that pursuing a career in medicine was a waste of my time and that my delusions of grandeur and being someone that I’ve had since childhood are perhaps not simply delusions. I realized that I have a talent for a reason, and that I want to live every day of my life being in love with it.

As usual, however, this year I lost some friends. There have been those that had already drifted who fell off the radar completely and some who went from ‘friend’ to following suit. Quite honestly, it bothered me not on my own behalf but on theirs. The irony here, the sad part, you see, is that many did so because they believe me to be judgmental and/or untrustworthy… when the truth is that the people they spend time with now are the ones with a history of spreading gossip, and my mouth has been shut to the point where they themselves aren’t even aware how much I know of all their dirty little secrets. (Of course, perhaps they now have an inkling as I’ve recently dropped a few hints to some of their in-the-loop friends.) I earned the Lois Lane title for no reason other than my knack for always finding out without much effort. Yet people think I’m an unaware gossip, ostracizing me or– in some cases– using me even though I know and don’t judge a thing. The people you care about so often don’t seem to realize how genuine you are… And how disingenuous are the ones they’re surrounded by. It seems that being fake is what gets people to think that you’re a true friend, and that’s one of the harshest realities I’ve realized this past year.

2012 made me realize that public opinion, popular demand, the majority mindset is often mistaken, misled and that working to change it rather than conform is worth doing. For once, I actually tried the whole being overly nice and holding back from saying what’s on my mind thing, but I was miserable. It made me realize being brutally honest is how I work best, popular opinion be damned.

Freshman year of college had me feeling so alone and like an outsider, something I haven’t felt for years. I’ve begun my sophomore year with an effort to make new friends, and through classes and a certain new organization I joined as a board member this semester, I’ve found people willing to talk about more than gossip, drugs, alcohol, partying, trashy and ridiculous shows, the opposite sex, and other mindless, mind-numbing topics. I’ve met guys who have no problem with a girl holding her own in an argument or hitting them with a sharp verbal jibe. I’ve met girls who don’t need my constant gushing upon every reunion or to compete with me for approval, popularity, boys. Have I made any extremely close friends, relationships that will definitely last a lifetime? Not yet, but I’m hoping all of these are headed in a direction where they will become so. I really do.

Do not mistake this post for an “ahh, here’s the end to The Great Story of 2012″; those are written far too often. Every year is just a date. They all run together, flowing in a linear fashion and in many ways, the story’s just beginning. Every new year I have a feeling as to what the next 12 months will bring, and 2013 is going to be a big one for me. I say this out of prior knowledge and anticipation of certain things, and just gut instinct about all the rest. We always think that our future is so far off and then one day, all of a sudden, you’re right at its door.

2012 was insane. I got into the biggest fights of my life with my mother. I had new kinds of conversations with my father. One of my best friends was off at sea or busy at military school, and it made me terribly lonely and forgotten until he finally visited with a buddy who confirmed my fears were for naught. I got back in touch with an old best friend who’s steadily coming back into my life, although it honestly feels as if she never left. I spent the year working through issues from the past with my closest friend of these three, getting further than I ever thought we would, and our friendship is stronger for it. I’ve come to accept the fact that there are some family issues that will never be resolved, that some people will never realize that there is another side to one story or a different perspective to another. I’ve realized just who my crew was in high school from the way we’ve kept in touch and missed each other in our odd, subtle ways. And I never stopped reading Harry Potter.

My resolutions are never new for the year. They are what I’ve already been working and improving on: writing more blogs posts, articles, poems, and fiction; getting back to my normal weight;  getting my shit together with MakeWaves; getting more politically and socially active; bringing the grades up; improving on all my relationships; making SJP bigger on campus than anyone could have thought; and reading a hell of a lot more. I will calmly but surely show those who do not see how much they’ve been mistaken that I’ll always have their back and that I’ve never faltered from being true to them… that I care more than they know. I will prove that my journalistic ambitions are far from small and ordinary.

I’m pulling myself out of a four year rut for good. And I’m going to make waves and take everything and everyone by storm… just the way I like it.

Just watch me.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

Getting the Peter Parker treatment

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The Express Tribune was launched over two years ago as Pakistan’s first internationally affiliated newspaper. Owned by the Lakson Group (think the Murdochs of Pakistan… or 2nd to the Murdochs of Pakistan), the Tribune is in partnership with The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. Today was my second day interning at its Karachi office.

I work at the City desk and my boss, the City Editor, is… Well, let’s just say I feel she’s taken the whole tough editor stereotype from movies a little too seriously. Sure, a good editor’s a Perry White, but this woman is channeling J. Jonah Jameson. Of course, having picked out five errors in the leading front page story (Pakistani English isn’t very strict) while waiting in the lobby before my interview a few days before, I’m too cocky to be anything but amused. Seeming to not realize she’s dealing with a kid who’s been going to school in New Jersey for eight years, she’s been throwing the F-word around like it’s a whole new thing. And while I slightly and silently agreed when she called my mother over-protective to her face the day before when Mommy Dearest wanted to come in with me to see where I was working, I couldn’t help but wonder if the woman had ever heard of Daniel Pearl. Turns out my boss hadn’t realized I not only studied in the States but lived there as well until she asked to clarify what I meant when I called in earlier to check whether I should come in today because the Consulate had told us to be extra careful. ( As usual, there’s been some violence on the streets after an assassination attempt of a local political/religious leader which freaked my mom out and led to her forcing me to call ahead.) But all this wasn’t until after my darling boss had already managed to tell me I shouldn’t be in journalism if I was going to be a pansy. Needless to say, I’m no longer involving my mother in any of this. And even more needless to say… I’m definitely going to show her how much I’m not a pansy.

Still, I’m learning some new things, and I like it. After Miss Congeniality made some changes to a piece I had edited, I went to fix it on my desktop when she took the print out she had marked up, turned it over and told me to make the changes from memory. I had to translate Urdu quotes into English and remember to stick to British spellings. (Thank you, Inkheart and UK versions of Harry Potter.) The power went out a few times, and I was handed chai without being asked if I wanted any. Typical Karachi in a typical newspaper office.

Being a journalist,– a proper one, at least– you want to see the world, meet all kinds of people from all kinds of places, experience different cultures, and learn that which you cannot from textbooks and lecture halls. Actually working at a media outlet on the other side of the world is the perfect experience. You learn a different language, different lifestyle, immerse yourself in another culture, see another viewpoint of media (a much more objective one at that). Journalists record history as it happens. We tell stories in the eyes of those who were there. And being in another country, the story is one that never fails to intrigue.

Tell me a story; HIMYM’s season 7 finale

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I’m three days late, but give me a break. Procrastination. It’s happened to you too.

How I Met Your Mother‘s 7th season ended Monday night, and if you haven’t watched every single episode up until then do not read past this paragraph. Get off my blog, get off whatever else you’re doing and go watch all of it and then come back. Seasons 1-6 are on Netflix. Yes, even if you don’t want to.  This show is hands down my all-time favorite.  The writing is absolute genius and it’s a comedy with a purpose, with an actual story to which we seek an end (even though part of us never wants to see that day come).  Everyone I know who’s watched it, getting past the first half of Season 1 without missing an episode, has not been able to resist, falling in love harder and faster than Ted Mosby with anyone of his countless girlfriends. Well, almost.

Alright, as for those of you who watched Monday night’s two-part finale (because the rest of you should be off watching), I loved it.  I personally didn’t get to watch until the next day, but as they say, worth the wait.  So much was going on, I’m kind of having difficulty organizing my thoughts, so bear with me and add your own in the comments at the bottom!

The Baby Erikson storyline:

  • Immediately after the episode in which the gang attended Marshall’s father’s funeral, I said that they would end up naming their son after him. Or maybe I said that in the Season 6 finale when Lily found out she was pregnant. Either way, called it. Bragging rights.  Although, for some reason, when Ted and Robin kept making fun of the “old man” name, I half-expected Lily to change her mind. But then again these are the same guys who are naming their kid Marvin Waitforit Erikson.
  • The middle name. Was that great or what? You totally expected at least Lily, if not Marshall, to say “Barney, that’s stupid”. Figures that the one time they listen to one of Barney’s ideas, it’s when they’re naming their KID.
  • Marshall getting there just in time was so perfect and so him.  You just can’t see him ever letting any of his loved ones down, let alone Lily.  And it was sweet to see Barney talk about how much he appreciates that in his friend to the bus driver. Anyone else love that all the old people faked heart attacks for him? What goes around comes around.
  • Lily’s dad is starting to grow on me.  Her relationship with him is still pretty dysfunctional, but you can see him growing up (finally) and starting to be there in his own inappropriate but well-meaning way.  He may be Marv’s only grandpa, but I don’t think he’ll be so bad.
  • LAME’s reaction upon realizing that their baby’s first outing was to a pub.  Interesting and clever way to introduce an issue they’ll be facing next season: what’s going to happen to them hanging and drinking with their friends now that they’re parents?

The Barman/Robin/Harley Quinn storyline:

  • Once again, bragging rights.  While everyone was discussing once we met Quinn whether it would be Robin or her that Barney marries (no one I know really thought it’d be Nora or some mystery girl), I threw my theory to a few people.  I said that in the season finale we’d see Barney proposing to Quinn and then at the end, we’d see that he’s marrying Robin. Boom. Dramatic effect. We’d all be like BUT HE’S ENGAGED TO QUINN?!?! I’m so good. I think it’s the writer in me; I tend to predict twists in movies, books and shows before they happen, because that’s what I’d do.  Not that I’m saying I’m as good as Carter & Craig. No way. But that just would have been good writing, and it was.  Those guys never fail to deliver.
  • It was also quite obvious, and I’m sure it was to most, as soon as they took hold of Barney’s suitcase at the airport that he was going to propose. And as things got more crazy, it became more obvious for two reasons. 1) A lot of the stuff Barney does would have any airport security shoot him or tackle him to the ground, and while HIMYM fans are often asked to suspend disbelief, it’s never in such a ‘okay, seriously?’ kind of way. 2) Barney isn’t stupid, and he’s a businessman.  He’s traveled a lot, and as far as we know, he could have gone to MIT. As very subtly hinted thus far, he’s a lot smarter than he acts, and so I just knew he was up to something.
  • Barney and Robin are not a horrible couple.  A significant amount of people think so.  They were just both horrible at being in couples at the time they were together.  I personally feel that’s why the writers broke them up and put them with other people.  Barney needed to date Nora to finally figure out how to have a functional, healthy relationship.  Ditto for Robin with Don.  Barney also needed to be with Quinn to finally learn to want to commit for life.  Ditto for Robin with Kevin.  Since Season 1, these two have been the most dysfunctional and immature of the group, and they’ve had a lot of growing up to do.  Craig & Carter don’t let any of these guys get where they need to be until they’re ready.  Robin and Barney, it seems, are closer to being ready to becoming Robin & the Barman than ever before.

The Ted and the One That Got Away storyline:

  • I’m furious with Ted.  He’s getting desperate and, as always, it isn’t pretty.  This is even more upsetting than his declaration of love for Robin this season.  The most infuriating thing about all of it is, of course, that it’s happened to him before. Victoria is doing to Klaus exactly what Stella did to him, and he’s doing to Klaus exactly what Tony did to him.  Ted even said to Tony that he was over Stella because what kind of person would do what she did to him…. leading Tony to leave Stella temporarily because, well, it’s a solid point.  And yet, Ted, it looks like Victoria is also that kind of person.  What are you thinking?!
  • Another thing I can’t help but point out is that Ted only dated Victoria for two months whereas she’s been with Klaus for six years.  She’s just having wedding jitters, and neither of them is in a state to be able to see that.  They don’t really know each other as much as they think they do, especially since it’s been six years.  Once again, Ted takes the leap he shouldn’t be.
  • It should also be noted that Ted is doing this on the advice of Robin. Robin. Who can’t even get her own love life right, let alone be qualified to advise anyone else. The girl’s a train wreck and she feels guilty for breaking his heart, she’ll say anything to get something to happen that will make her feel better.
  • I also disagree with Robin when she says he keeps going for girls that he knows he has no chance with.  He honestly thought he did.  With Robin, he was young, stupid, and probably felt he could change her mind.  With Stella, she lied to him and herself, so what chance did he have?  And as for Zoey, every guy has that one b*tch he goes after that he just can’t see through unlike everyone else around him… They had a lot in common, and I believe that she really was already distancing herself from her husband when she met Ted, and he felt that too.
  • According to Craig Thomas, the first episode of Season 8 will bring us back to the car ride with Ted and Victoria, and Ted’s gonna ask her if she left Klaus a note like Stella did for him.  Upon discovering that Klaus was not left any such note, he turns the car back around.  I can see where that’s going.  Most likely something along the lines of her writing the note and either her or Ted realizing how much she truly loves Klaus, leading her to run back into the German’s arms. And I kind of suspect we’re gonna get a big hint right after in regards to the Mother or something’s gonna happen bringing him closer to meeting her. I mean, after all, they gotta give us something after putting us through this Robin/Victoria torture, right?
  • As annoying as it is, I get the Victoria storyline.  It needs to happen, just as it did with Robin.  Victoria is his “what if”, and he needs to let that go in order to be ready to become what he will with the Mother.  I believe in true love and there being only one person who’s really truly made for you.  The writers are having Ted let everything else go and proving to him that it is in no way Robin or Victoria or anyone else.  There’s only one girl out there who’s truly his soulmate, and she’s getting here as fast as she can.

The Mother:

  • We haven’t met the Mother.  It isn’t Robin, and that fact has been established since the very first episode.  It will not be Victoria, because we know he meets her at a wedding… And yes, Barney and Robin’s wedding.  A significant amount of people believe it’s Robin and some believe it’s Victoria. They aren’t giving the writer’s credit: they’re good.  They don’t pull switches and red herrings on us unless it’s really well done, and doing that with Robin or Victoria would be in really bad taste.
  • I’m in the party that thinks it’s Barney’s half sister, Carly. The only thing that tells it might not be is back when Ted pulled that joke on his kids that he met their mother while she was a stripper at the Lusty Leopard, in which, he said her name was Tracey.  But the Mother being Barney’s sister would give it more of an OMG factor. Plus, why would the writers even have Barney’s dad mention that he has a sister if we don’t meet her?  He said “college” but he could have easily meant post-grad, and how great would it be for Ted to get back at Barney for life over all the I’m-gonna-bang-your-sister jokes?
  • Craig Thomas has stated that there’s a reason the pilot episode was the story of how the gang met Robin.  Keep in mind that the show is, in fact, called How I Met Your Mother.  Robin is key.  If Ted had never met and dated Robin, he would never have broken up with her, gotten jealous of her and Enrique Iglesias, and gotten drunk with Mandy Moore, ending up with the butterfly tattoo on his lower back.  If he’d never gotten the tattoo, he would have never met Stella.  If he had never met and nearly married Stella, Tony would have never felt guilty for breaking up the wedding and never offered to help him get the job at Columbia.  If Ted never got the job at Columbia, he would have never accidentally been in that Economics class where the Mother was nor would he have met and dated Rachel Bilson, the mother’s roommate, and seen the mother’s ankle or returned her yellow umbrella.  That yellow umbrella is it, my friends.  Ted even said it’s the short version, the version his kids already know.  I don’t know if anyone else remembers, but the day of Barney and Robin’s wedding it starts to rain, and Ted tells Marshall he forgot an umbrella….

Extra Thoughts:

  • This show kicks ass at continuity and cohesiveness.  At the end of Season 5, episode 11 “The Last Cigarette Ever”, Ted told his kids the dates of every single one of the gang’s actual last cigarettes ever, and said that Marshall’s was on the day his son was born.  Sure enough and without mention, you see Marshall smoking in Atlantic City in this episode.  Even more subtle, when Robin keeps talking about all the deliveries she’s done, she mentions she even delivered a human baby once.  Anyone else remember the episode where Ted finds out Lily’s been sabotaging all of his past relationships and you can see Robin having a really eventful day at her broadcast job in the background, delivering a baby on live television?  She comes home with placenta on her jacket.  I could come up with a hundred examples of this throughout the seasons and extremely subtle ones between and within episodes. This is writing at its genius best, folks.
  • Marshall’s two steps while drunk. Simply great comedy.
  • Marshall and Lily are very respectfully too busy for Ted’s love life BS at this point.  Their request for “nothing below an 8″ was hilarious.
  • “That guy’s a dad!”
  • Robin: “That was not cool, Ted.”
    Lily (in labor): “CONTRACTION!”
    Robin: “That wasn’t cool, Ted?”
  • Dr. Sonya:  “Lily, if you don’t push, I will shove this baby up your throat and pull it out of your mouth!” This season’s really been paying off perfectly on all the flash forwards we’ve seen.
  • lilysinlabor.com Yes, it’s real.  Every time they feature any kind of website on this show, it’s real. And it’s glorious.
  • I’m coming to absolutely adore Jason Segel.  I saw The Five-Year Engagement a couple weeks back and realized it then, but it really hit me when Marshall and Ted were standing outside the bride’s room and his acting in this simple exchange turns out to be superb:
    Ted: “The road to this day has had a few twists and turns, hasn’t it?”
    Marshall: “In a way, it all makes sense, doesn’t it?”
  • And yes, of course, the stories Ted and Robin tell Lily to distract her from the pains of labor.  Even the smallest things in HIMYM, although they seem like they’re just filler, they show us a lot about the characters and subtly get us to know them better… They’re the reason we feel like these guys are our good friends seven seasons later.  My personal favorites were I Wonder Where That Door Goes? and The Halloween We Decided to Go as the Breakfast Club, But Failed to Coordinate Our Costumes.  God, I want to be as good of a writer as the guys that work on this show.

Season Eight:

  • We’ll meet her.  We know it.  And I’m thinking/hoping we’ll see her sooner than later… Maybe during November sweeps?
  • Farewell, Bob Saget.  This was the last episode with his voice as narrator.  Next season we’ll be awkwardly transitioning into hearing Josh Radnor’s voice, as we’re getting closer to meeting the mother and will eventually have to see 2030 Ted talking to his kids.
  • Apparently there’s going to be a significant story arc with Robin and another guy… Maybe someone she needs to be with in order to realize she’s supposed to be with Barney?  Something I read somewhere made me think it’s someone we’ve already seen her with.  Don, maybe?  She didn’t exactly get total closure on that one.
  • How exactly are the writers going to get rid of Quinn?  They really have to spin this story right or it’ll just be horrible and heart-breaking. Maybe she finds someone else and leaves him?
  • Robin should propose to Barney.  It seems fitting because she’s “her own daddy” and she did kind of screw things up last time.
  • Less filler episodes, please.  There were too many this season, and it became unbearable at some points.
  • We’re moving into the house! Ted’s house! I just know we are!
  • I miss Robin Sparkles.
  • theslapbetcountdown.com I calculated. This should be happening end of Season 8, maybe the finale.  Can’t wait.

Alright well, I’ve ranted far too long and too much.  Comments, questions, rebuttals, ideas are all welcome so post below and help me get through the summer!  I’ll be spending mine speculating and trying to convince my best friend to change his middle name to Waitforit upon receiving his citizenship in a couple of years.

 
Ab imo pectore,
Syjil

Obama comes out (no pun intended)

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I’ve always heard people going on and on about finding themselves in college, discovering who they really are and their purpose in life, and exploring their options, and always thought it was complete and utter bull.

Then came freshman year, and that’s exactly what I found happening to me.

I know it’s been only two semesters, but I have a knack of figuring things out quick, and my freshman year saw me figuring out myself further not only academically and career-wise, but also realizing things about my past and who I am and why. It’s been an interesting why and it scares/excites me to see what’s going to happen in the next three years. Stay tuned; I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing some life-changing events.

But since I’m no celebrity (yet), my life is not of much interest, so let’s move on. Today became one of the biggest news days of the year, and most probably history, with President Obama coming out (no pun intended) with his support for same-sex marriage.

Like President Obama, I guess you could say I’ve been evolving on the issue too.  I’ve had friends who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and I’ve always hated when they’ve been met with ridicule or cruelty.  It’s never once turned me away from them or made me think of them any differently… Unless, of course, they did something that I wouldn’t like to see coming from a heterosexual friend either.

But at the same time, I am a practicing Muslim.  To me, no matter how anyone spins it, homosexuality is forbidden in Islam… But as my uncle reminded me the other day, it is the act that is forbidden, not the preference itself. In Islam, we are taught to learn to discipline ourselves and obey God no matter what.  In my own interpretation, homosexuality seems to be a challenge for people and is something for them to figure out, between themselves and God if they believe in Him.

But that brings us back to the fact that the United States of America was founded as a secular nation.  As a practicing Muslim, I cannot condone homosexuality and say that gay marriage is okay.  But (as my uncle again pointed out) as a Muslim in the U.S., I am bound by the laws of my country and its Constitution.  The Constitution clearly states that all people are to be given equal rights and that religion shall not play a factor in our country’s governance.

One thing I have to say, however, is that I feel that on both sides of the argument, there has been quite a bit of disrespect.  My moral and religious upbringing has also taught me tolerance.  Not only am I disgusted at those who call homosexuals names and treat them as subhuman or criminals, but I also cannot help but be disappointed at the lack of respect many people in our society have come to have for religion.  Yes, it is wrong for someone to persecute another just because of their sexual orientation, but if they are not doing so, I think it is equally wrong for someone to disparage someone else for the simple belief that something is wrong due to their religion.  While I see the similarities this has to interracial marriage and rights for women, blacks and immigrants, I still also see the difference.  Many religions, including the most prevalent ones in our society, teach us that homosexuality is a sin.  The fact is undeniable, and far too many times, I see people simplifying the issue.  Just because someone believes in a set of religious teachings, it does not mean they are a bigot.  And just because someone doesn’t, it does not mean they are immoral.

In the end, same-sex marriage is an inevitability for the United States.  But I don’t see why this has to be such a disaster for those who are religious.  As a friend of mine pointed out to me a few weeks back, same-sex marriage has been legal for years in Europe, because state marriage and religious marriage are kept completely separate.  Much of the battle in the U.S. is because here, the priest, rabbi, imam or whomever has to sign the legal document when they marry a couple.  While Americans need to respect the rights of all citizens, the government needs to respect the rights of religious institutions.  If a religious leader or institution does not wish to perform same-sex marriages, they should not be forced to do so.  While we are protected from becoming a religious nation, our religions are also protected from becoming secular institutions.

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil

Side note: Yesterday, author Maurice Sendak passed away at age 83.  I still haven’t seen the movie for Where the Wild Things Are but I bought my little brother the book around the time it came out, and I absolutely love it as well as the novelization of the screenplay by Dave Eggers.  You can find his 2-part interview with Stephen Colbert earlier this year on the Colbert Report here and here.  Worth watching.

“Oh, please don’t go– we’ll eat you up– we love you so!” –Where the Wild Things Are
R.I.P.

–S.

My name is Ashraf and I am not a terrorist

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Since my last post, my blog has seen nearly 300 hits.  Wow.  I have to say thank you to everyone who’s willing to listen to what I have to say and passing it along… For a Jersey chick with a template-blog that works for no one, 300 is a lot.

In fact, I’m starting to think about maybe turning this into my one and only job in life.  Writing, informing.  Of course, that remains to be seen as my Pakistani mother is currently acting as if Karachi is under siege… Perhaps I shouldn’t have told her what I’ve been thinking.

But to follow up on a few things people have been saying… Invisible Children is not a scam.  Does a significant chunk not go to Africa? Yes. But it goes to their films.  IC is not primarily a charity– their main goal is to raise awareness.  That money goes to their films which, as you can see, have made a big impact.

In fact, give Invisible Children a chance to address all criticism here.

One thing the latest viral video you’re all watching did not address is that while Kony may be now just doing everything he is for power, in the beginning the LRA did have a purpose.  Pretty much, Uganda’s seen a lot of ethnic conflicts and civil war… A woman by the name of Alice Auma started the Holy Spirit Movement, which pretty much advocated Acholi (an ethnic group in Uganda) interests by saying she was a prophet receiving the word of God… Kony came along and kind of started copying her, adding violence into the mix and thus bringing about the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Hold the phone there. Lord’s. Resistance. Army. The Lord. As in Christ. Kony and his men portray themselves as a Christian movement, fighting for their people in the name of God… Sound familiar?

But you never hear anyone call all Christians terrorists, now do you?

Ab imo pectore,

Syjil