Nigeria atheist ‘ruled mentally ill’

Nigeria atheist ‘ruled mentally ill’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28010234

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The TV and Me

Unlike the last several personally bleak posts…. Here’s a personally goofy one.

Blogging on the bandwagon but against popular opinion, I loved the finale of How I Met Your Mother! Full disclosure- I watched it three times, crying into my pillow each time. I understand the outrage- but I just thought it was great. Each character found a resolution, each character got to go their separate way to accomplish or find their personal goals. The finale was not about things that were necessarily “meant to be”- It was about growing up and how drastically things can change. It was about living out your life and doing what you need to do.

Anyhow- reading all the outrage about the How I Met Your Mother finale and comparing my personal opinion got me thinking: How deeply am I affected by pop culture? The answer is, pop culture runs deep. Sadly, I find solace in music, movies, and most often TV shows.

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The lessons I learned from How I Met Your Mother will rank among these other gems in their significance to my life.

  • My philosophy on friendship can be summarized in the final scenes of “The Jungle Book”.
  • I include “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias in all my workout and running playlists.  The intensity of the song translates into many realms.
  • Everything I know about confidence, sex, and femininity, I learned from Prince.
  • One of the first impressions I had about going to college was: “This is as close to Harry Potter as I’ll ever get”.

 

What Do You Expect, Mother? I’m Half Machine!

As I round out my 6th consecutive week of being offshore, a very sad reality bares itself in my mind. I go about today like all the other days on the rig: wake up, lay in bed for hours, turn on computer…..

I’ve been joking for weeks that Buzzfeed and Youtube are my only friends now. I guess I’m not really joking. It’s not just for work, I rely on this machine as my portal to the human world. I chat with whoever is lingering online, usually my mom. I wake up and go to bed many many nights having only exchanged a single email with a manger and chatted with my mom. This is the extent of my human contact. I fight back tears, thinking about my 7th grade speech project arguing people have an over dependence on technology. Alas, I am living my nightmare, falling asleep every night feeling only the warmth from a laptop.

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I go days without speaking full sentences. I go full days without making a sound sometimes. When is the last time I had a conversation with someone, out loud?…. The answer is poignant. Full disclosure: I only talk at work. I speak work related things with a very professional guard. I speak with people who don’t understand my language and vice versa. This goes on for months before I see other humans. It’s frustrating. I sit alone most of the day, thinking of all the past human interactions in my life. Any friend or foe in the last 25 years to grace my presence, I have thought about you. I replay old conversations. I remember the kids in my neighborhood who we used to tease mercilessly for their glasses and eccentric ramblings. I regret being such a cruel child. I wonder how they’ve adjusted. 

I haven’t given this much thought until today. This is how people become socially awkward. I have never been a master of social settings, but this must be destroying any personal skills I did have. I wonder if there are noticeable changes in my behavior when I am finally around the dwindling population of friends here in Doha, and certainly among friends back home. I must be a hyper puppy, allegorically jumping and pawing at them- possibly pissing my pants.

In a way, it is my fast from humans, a community cleanse, society detox. They say no man is an island. I disagree. 

I Would Never Lie to You, No

I sink into the bubbles, cradled in hot water.  The lavender tea candle burns slowly atop the bath, the object on which I’ve fixed my stare. I’m everywhere and no where at the same time.

The sound emanating from my small speaker on the floor melds into my body and we become one with the water.The music playing is a blur. My blank concentration always fades right at the same time in the song- almost instinctively, I cry out loud with The Background,

“And I would never lie to you, no. I would never lie to you, no.”

I am awakened back to consciousness with a lump in my throat. My eyes water as if I’m choking. The blurriness comes into focus, and every word is a new object of my fixed concentration. It plays over and over. I feel the words for hours.Image

Some days, I watch TV instead. The warm and fuzzy bath double teams with the theme song. I sink into the bubbles, cradled in hot water. My mind is blank and I absorb the welcoming piano, leaning my head back and forth to the music,

“You want to be where everybody knows your name.”

The same lump in my throat appears. I close my eyes, battling the choking feeling. I transport myself into Cheers, where I walk in and sit at a table to the right of the bar. I sit there for hours, people watching in my bathtub.

Projection of Oppression

I revisit old experiences and compare their context with more recent ones. The following thoughts developed through a conversation with a cousin. She is from the middle east,, and western educated. We talked about rights. In the United States, people are very attached to the rhetoric associated with their “rights”. They often try to apply American rights in places they don’t belong.

What are these rights, exactly? Where do they come from?

America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but has some of the poorest people, wide variety of health problems, diseases, violence and crime. Why don’t people worry more about that instead of the infringement on their rights? I feel the need here to address a recent example highlighting the many ill-conceived opinions about “rights.” Lately, there has been a  flood of articles, posts, blogs, and comments about Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality in GQ magazine. A&E temporarily suspended him from the show and an outpouring of internet users had very strong opinions on the matter. A common theme from internet commentators supporting Phil had things to say like: “It’s called freedom of speech” or “Read the Bill of Rights.”

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Without delving into any politics or opinions on the gays- let’s focus on FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Again, we revisit the question What are these rights, exactly? Freedom of speech protects you from the government. It’s why we can blame the president and hate on gays ALL DAY LONG on the internet, in magazines, and everywhere in between. Phil Robertson could literally shout what he said from the rooftops, and the government can not prosecute him for voicing his beliefs. The bill of rights has nothing to do with what your employer may or may not allow you to say when you represent them.

Small example: In my company, we have to take a “Professionalism in the workplace” training course every three years. They teach us how to not sexually harass each other and to not talk about politics while at work. Is this a violation of freedom of speech? Absolutely not- its called being a professional with a paycheck. Do you want your paycheck? Don’t say controversial things while you represent a professional organization. 

I digress, back to the point. The whole idea is that people are extremely offended and feel rights are violated when their entire conception of said rights is altogether misinformed and uneducated. The subject matter is irrelevant. What are the terms of these rights? You should know what they mean when you feel they’ve been violated. We are a nation full of “the people who cried rights”. This syndrome is so severe, that the attachment follows us wherever we go. Back to my conversation with my cousin in Bahrain- She told me about expats who try to explain and educate her on her rights. The tragic in this is….. when you leave the United States, you are no longer playing by the same set of rules. As a traveler, you ought to know this. They try to explain to her that as a woman in the Middle East who covers her hair, she is oppressed. Meanwhile, they actually know very little about women’s rights or Islamic culture, or its laws.

Below is a photo of me enjoying my rights in Qatar, dressed in red, white and blue on Qatari national day, climbing on top of cars during their parade.

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My cousin explained to me, in very brief terms why these conversations bother her. It’s the facts which people choose to ignore or remain ignorant to. They leave the US and never understand that the same rules don’t apply everywhere. 

In our culture, women do not share with men. A man can neither tell me to work, nor keep me from working. A man can not access my wealth or my inheritance. My money is mine and mine alone. I don’t even change my name for him. This is the essence of my rights and the laws here. I am protected by the laws of my country and the laws of my religion. Who are you? You are either your father’s daughter or your husbands wife. You can not even choose your own name.

 Know your rights and what they mean. Know your surroundings and recognize other people rights. Their rights may not be the same as yours, but they feel just as strongly when their rights are challenged.