13 Types of People at the Mosque/Masjid During Ramadan

Greetings Readers,

The month of Ramadan near and it is during this month that Muslims take the opportunity to become closer to the Creator and rekindle relationships that were otherwise severed during the other months of the year among juggling school, work, and other nuances that keep us on our toes at all times. What comes with this month (which consists of a whole lot of family time) is communal daily night prayers at the mosque also known as taraweeh. It is during this month, and during these night prayers and frequent trips to the mosque that you’ll meet or even find yourself being the mentioned people below (whether you would like to admit it or not). I present to you, my dear readers, the potentially offensive, but intentionally-humorous list that I like to call “Types of People at the Mosque During Ramadan:”

*Note: this has been written out of humor. I mean no offense to anyone who vigilantly identifies himself/herself as at least one of these types below, but simply hoped to address some issues with a comical twist.*



13 TYPES OF PEOPLE AT THE MASJID DURING RAMADAN

1. “The Astrophysicist”

Every community definitely has one of these. Maybe even at least 100. “Astrophysicist” activity normally peaks towards the very beginning of the month and towards the end of the month thankfully, when the Moon Wars, as I like to call them, commence again. Usually, the Astrophysicist, one who has never owned or even held a telescope in his/her life finds it their right to takes it to Twitter (because who uses Facebook anymore, right?) to tweet his/her latest “calculated” lunar findings (usually obtained from the committee that they strongly follow). It can be rather a chore and quite a waste of time to argue with one who identifies this type, simply because they are staunch that Ramadan is indeed on so-and-so-day or even worse: that Ramadan isn’t on so-and-so day. And believe me when I say that they will do everything in their power to convince the world that they deserve the Nobel Prize for their achievement.

2. The Parking Patrol aka “The Flashlight Jedi”

Parking when there’s at least elephants of cars trying to get to the masjid is a zoo of its own. For this reason, the renowned parking patrol have taken it upon themselves to make sure to tame the night stampede of cars full of too many adults and children and make sure that people leave with all of their limbs attached. However, some people who fall under this type take it as far as erratically waving their flashlights in a way that clearly doesn’t show masjid-comers which way they should turn or park. Rather, it makes them even more confused, which causes the parking patrol people to wave their flashlights even more, further complicating the situation even more. Sigh.

3. The Aunty Who Has Never Heard Of Deodorant

It’s unfortunate to be one of this type. Perhaps these aunties have never perused through the deodorant aisle which is *surprisingly* (and conveniently) located next to other critical tools such as toothpaste, shampoo, and soap. Perhaps they thought of themselves as invincible to radiating human odor. Regardless, being stuck next to a person of this type can make taraweeh unnecessarily painful not only for your ability to concentrate on your prayers, but may sadly also cause permanent damage to your olfactory senses. There is nothing else to say that when in doubt, always remember to carry your best perfume and/or body spray and “accidentally” spritz it in the air. Or simply utilize your limbs to move to a less odorous location.

4. The NYFW-ers

It’s one thing to look presentable. It’s another thing to treat your trip to taraweeh like you’re going to New York Fashion Week: Masjid style. There’s no definitive clothing that can sum up people of this persona. Rather, when you see a NYFW-er, you’ll just know. Whether you can see him/her strutting their best through the parking lot, enough to make everyone’s heads turn, trust me, you’ll know.

5. The Front Row Dashers

There are many said benefits of praying in the front row. It’s only natural that most people are encouraged to and would prefer to pray in the front row given the many pluses. For one thing, you get the first breeze of the fan (which is usually placed there given the cramped-ness of the room) and  you avoid the possible head-rear end collision that can occasionally occur. But do not mix up one who simply wants to pray in the front row versus a FRD. A Front Row Dasher is identified as someone who will fight tooth and nail to get their spot in the beloved first row versus someone who seizes the opportunity when presented with an open spot. A true-to-nature FRD will get to the mosque at least 3 hours earlier in order to ensure their spot. Some will go as far as reserving the entire row with purses and wallets in order to accommodate their entire posse. The benefit of being a FRD is knowing who your real friends are; a true friend is one who would actually save you a spot in the front row, allowing you to reap the benefits beside them.

6. The Line Guard

I will admit, there it’s important to keep ones line straight during prayer. I am a firm believer in the heel to line protocol just like anyone else. But it’s a completely different story when someone will pay more attention to the alignment of your feet instead of concentrating on their prayer. Especially if this person is 20 actual feet over to your right and decides to notice how your heels are unknowingly 20 nanometers away from the line and decides to reprimand you before the next set of rakaat.

7. The Chitterchatters

Whilst some people come to pray, some choose to talk amongst other fellow chitterchatters in hushing tones that will cause them to be reprimanded occasionally seeing how their whispering manages to be heard by the front row. These people will usually sit in the back of the room spending their time in conversation, and tweeting/instagramming their  post-fast meal, or their experiences at  #taraweeh or depending on the day they had, might either tweet/instagram something along the lines of   #spiritual or #religious.

8. The Fan club

With every great speaker or reciter, comes the subsequent fan club. Usually a swarm of people who will keep their eyes glued to the TV screen when the said speaker comes into view. Enough said.

9. The Sing Along Aunty

Another type of persona that doesn’t take much explaining. You know, that one aunty that thinks she can recite with the sheikh, and that too, loudly. It has you questioning whether indeed, the Sing Along Aunty is leading the prayer, after all. Again, it’s best not to confront the Sing Along Aunty about her behavior. Rather, separate yourself from the problem and find another suitable location to your needs.

10. The Boogie Man/Woman

Children can only be children. They will find it difficult to sit in one place and listen to someone else without moving a muscle for a long time. The Boogieman/woman is that one man/woman that always urges children to stay out of the men’s side of the mosque and saturate every child in the woman’s side (a better choice, apparently) to be encase their children in a 4’x4′ cage when coming to taraweeh or even a better option: putting their children on a leash because four year olds running around is clearly not normal and is a serious problem.

11. The Shoe Thief

TST are people whose activity peaks at a significantly high rate towards the end of the month. It’s seemingly natural to a true shoe thief thatwhen there is a ton of people leaving the mosque, it’s only beneficial to grab any pair of shoes that seemingly fit so that they can leave faster.

12. The NASCAR driver

It’s that one person who drives their 2000 Toyota Camry like its a Ferrari. This person will attempt to drift their way into a parking spot, practically driving the Parking Patrol insane. Beware of being such a person. You might notice an “accidental” scratch on your car, or slashed tires. Just saying.

13. The Double Parked Turtle

What’s worse than being the NASCAR driver is being the one person who’s double parked and even after being told to get to your car as soon as possible, doesn’t exactly follow directions and comes 45 minutes later when everyone whom you have caused to still remain parked is ready to sign a petition to get your car (which has probably been totaled given how many people you have angered) towed. Rule of thumb: do not EVER be the double parked turtle. Ever.

Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

Until my next blog post,

-AZ ;)

And On Day Fourteen She Decided To Blog Again

It has been a fortnight since I have found my newly found and three month long freedom called Summer Break. The last fourteen days have been such that I cannot recall the dreadful week I miraculously endured called finals. After all, it was only fourteen days ago that I had made the library my living quarters, practically spent every waking moment of my life eating Panera….Bread Co. so to speak. I remember it was only two weeks ago that I was walking back and forth between my home and the library during that dreadful week. Sigh. But that was my past.

In the last few weeks, I have done the following:

1. I had the opportunity to attend a family wedding. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say wedding week. South Asian weddings are simply not a one day festivities. Rather, they consist of a whole week of events. By the end of the week, you are sure to be exhausted. I know I am. :)

2. I have also had the chance to take a stab at cooking–a feat that I was finally able to conquer after fearing the very task itself. What did I cook, you ask? Tandoori fried shrimp. A craving for seafood with a twist of my heritage.

3. I tried reading a book. I had figured I would take a sophisticated route and read something classic and something brag-worthy–something that would enrich my college literary experience. For this reason I chose The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. However, after reluctantly reading 30 pages, I decided I was not deemed fit to read the book and decided to happily return it back to the library where it belonged. Perhaps another book (one I have yet to find) will suit my liking.

4. I have been “training” on and off for my presumed 10K that I will presumably run in August. However, the efficacy of my training has been rather questionable–especially since every one of my training sessions has concluded with cupcake binging all thanks to the members of my household.

5. I have pledged to blog more this summer. :)

Until my next blog post,

-AZ ;)

How I Spent Singles Awareness Day

galentineI looked at myself in the mirror, hoping that my greatness would be reflected back at me. Instead, it was unfortunately the opposite. It was low self esteem, insecurity, loneliness, and negative energy that almost knocked me against the wall. But then I suddenly opened my front door, hoping to see gifts that were only intended for me. But instead I only saw carpet. The same carpet I normally see everyday. I was crushed.

February 14th is exciting for some. It’s a day when the paradoxes and rather not-so-preferable aspects of the world can be ignored for 24 hours; almost as if we live in La La Land instead of planet earth. Those who have a companion to shower them with an abundance of chocolate, roses, and attention are the ones who will spend the day in ease, with every ounce of happiness in their veins. Meanwhile, in the blogosphere where some of us don’t exactly have a special someone except for our teddy bear that we got from our grandma for our birthday ten years ago, and therefore can’t write about how exciting, happy filled, and romantic our day was–have no choice but to improvise for the sake of our blogging career. And that’s what I did.

When you’re a female and unable to find yourself a Valentine and are desperate enough to hire someone to be your secret admirer and “anonymously” send you flowers while you’re mundanely studying at Becker Library so that everyone else would think you’re loved and special to someone else, have no fear. Because that’s what Galentines are for. No, that wasn’t a typo, it was the truth typed in a ten letter word.

Due to my lack of a Valentine (or one that I could hire for the day, in my case) I still had hope that February 14th wouldn’t be spent alone. So I called up a good friend of mine and we celebrated a holiday of our own: Galentine’s Day. And surely, we weren’t the only ones. Type in “Galentine” and you’ll see thousands of pics with that hashtag on IG.

But first, let me answer a few common questions:

1. So who exactly is “Galentine” material?

Anyone fun, fantastic, and totally worth spending time with. I would assume it would be a really awesome friend that possibly shares the same tastes as you…or you could try to hang out with someone you don’t like. That’s not exactly what I would recommend seeing how awkward it would be, but as long as you both can have a good time, make them your galentine. (no rhyme intended)

2.  Is it a date, then?

Date? It can be whatever you want it to be. Call it a hangout, a non-romantic but totally entertainingly fun rendezvous that ultimately defeats the purpose of a rendezvous. Just make sure that there’s always a smile on your face and you are able to take enough pics for the whole world to see on IG.

So yes, get ready and glammed like you’re going to prom. Wash your hair, and pamper yourself for light years while jamming out to your favorite beats. Just because you don’t have anyone doesn’t mean you can’t look amazing and feel good about yourself.

3. So what did YOU do for Galentine’s Day?

First, my Galentine (aka my friend Jeanine) and I went out to a Mediterranean place called The Vine (I would totally recommend it) and got ourselves the most romantic meal ever: a gigantic plate of fries, a gigantic cheeseburger for one (me, of course), a plate of falafels, and shawarma for her. The perfect meal for two with leftovers that could last me for days. The best part, it was so good, we didn’t even have time to take pics. And that’s when you know you had a good time.

Next, we went to Hot Box Cookies (again, totally recommend) followed by a photo shoot with yours truly. :)

 

 

Until my next blog post,

-AZ

 

To Spite The Laws Of The Universe

Dear Readers,

What I am about to reveal may cause some to seethe inside with anger-a word that cannot truly describe the frustration that some may experience upon finishing this 1000 something word blog post. What I am about to write may be confused for something that is undeniably cliché-(perhaps it’s my increasingly busy schedule and lack of ideas to blame?) but nonetheless, after many weeks of thinking and late night pondering over an invisible cup of green tea, I had started to think about where I was *metaphorically* going in life; whether the path I had chosen was really intended to be taken by myself. It was during one unproductive excuse of a night that I had the opportunity to confront my subconscious; I asked myself why I was not pleased despite all that I had accomplished. This wasn’t the same feeling I had experienced when I had lost my lanyard (reference to a previous blog post)-it was different. And then, I realized what was wrong. When looking at the chain of events that had occurred in the last ten years, there was a part of me that wanted closure as I would embark upon a part of my life–a part that I like to loftily call “The Ridiculously-Raging-Twenties”–the beginning of the decade where I would be living the prime of my adulthood before moving onto true wisdom and maturity. And so, after consulting with my blogging team which consisted of my alter ego, my spirit animal, and my common sense, I had decided to defy the laws of physics (hence, making some intellectuals angry) and write a letter to convey *ten* pieces of advice for to ten year old self (which will never be read by my ten year old self, but oh well):

To my ten year old self,

1. Do your twenty year old self a favor and I kid you not–do not—at any cost–pick out the dorky silver glasses at Lens Crafters. You will only shame yourself to complete dorkdom in the realm of elementary school. You will suffer and slightly resemble not a ten year old, but a sixty year old grandmother who–out of boredom– decided to repeat the fifth grade. On the bright side, the pictures of you sporting the grandma-style glasses will prove to be a great Transformation Tuesday photo on Instagram. In the meantime, you’ll be the last one picked for teams in Capture The Flag.

2. Another piece of fashion advice–the palazzo pants must go. It was cute when you wore them once. I advise you to not wear them again for the reasons listed above. Burn them. Tear them into a million pieces. Feed those pants to the neighbor’s dog next door. Seriously though. The palazzo pants must go.

3. Invest in hair products to handle your Amazon Jungle style curls. There is hope at the end of the tunnel-or in this case, the bottom of a bottle of mousse.

4. Your intellect will come to your benefit one day. Keep getting smarter and don’t pay attention to the classroom bully who always called you “Afro”. Although the both of you will one day aspire to deal drugs, unlike him, you actually won’t be going to jail for it.

5. Play outside more. Ride your bike. Race your friends to see who can run to the park the fastest. Play Frisbee. And then indulge in a big bucket of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

6. Smile more. And stop getting into tedious fights with the kids in the neighborhood. It’s only going to make your voice raspier.

7. Find a better hiding spot for your diary. Note: hiding it under your pillow with the expectation that prying eyes will avoid looking there isn’t a wise choice on your part.

8. Just because Johny Q said you were ugly doesn’t mean you’re ugly. In a few years, contacts, hair products, better hygiene, puberty, and your spot on the track team will do the trick. Just wait, in a few years, Johny Q will turn out to be a yellow-toothed, completely unattractive beyond all belief, looking elf that even Santa wouldn’t want to hire to work in his factory in the North Pole.

9. Keep reading and writing and don’t be ashamed of it. One day, it will come in handy. Besides, who doesn’t love a literary genius?

10.  Stop buying so many LipSmacker products. You don’t need them. Besides, one day you will decide that you hate lip gloss. Need I say more?

Sincerely,

Your Twenty Year Old Self

 

Until my next blog post,

-AZ

‘Tis the Season To…

*cue inspirational music*

I have always been one whom had been rather difficult to please. I had always been one to question the world around me, question its mysteries and wonders rather than accept what I had always seen at face value. I had always assumed I would remain this way, questioning, questioning, and remain questioning some more, left without any answers to please my increasing curiosity of my habitat called Planet Earth. But little did I know that soon this would all come to an end, and that what I had been waiting for all along would soon solve all of my problems. Soon, I would realize that I was destined to find the piece of the puzzle that had been missing all along. Little did I know that it would come in the most unexpected way, or even be the most unexpected thing. This is my story.

I had always grown up watching TV. (As if this makes me different than any other child in the United States of America) I had always been mused by the works of Sesame Street, rather fond of Elmo’s World and always wondered what animal he was supposed to be. But among the multiple muses I had encountered in my childhood, I had always felt that something was indeed missing. I felt like I was meant to achieve something greater.  While I always tell stories of fulfilling an emptiness inside of me, this quest was different from the rest. There was a part of me that wanted to feel fulfilled and accomplished. And this feeling, I felt, could only be experienced by those who were champions. When I saw commercials for the Olympics, when I saw football players making their victorious crossover to the touchdown line, when I saw runners persevering and enduring their pain as they ran for miles, when I saw Gatorade commercials of boxers strenuously training through long hours with nothing but the picture of a gold medal in their thoughts, part of me wanted to experience that feeling. To feel accomplished by defying the odds and physical limits of the human body. To achieve great things by challenging my own mental limits. For years, it is those people whom I watched in awe and envy. It was those people whom I wanted nothing else but to be.

However, what challenged this notion was reality. I understood I was never meant to be a star athlete on the cover of People Magazine; I was headed toward the path to medicine, a path that unfortunately did not involve being on the cover of magazines or finish lines to cross. Though I vied for a spot on the track team, my academic duties left me strapped and occupied despite how well rounded I claimed to be. While I occasionally ran, I always wished I was able to compete despite my incompetent speed.

With the stress that is often associated with college, the only purpose in life being to study, and the pressure to be nothing short of amazing, my hopes further travelled down the drain. But one day, as I woke up yet again to study as per my schedule, I finally had come to realize what I believed to be a divine philosophical truth. I decided that regardless of the academic load that I would have to endure, I would still pursue my dream. And that’s when I grabbed my credit card and signed up for the Chicago 10K in August of 2015. And perhaps it was the heat of the moment, and the excitement that I felt at the time, but it wasn’t until hours afterward that I realized that I would be expected to run 6.2 hours in less than an hour and a half and I thought….I’m pretty darn toast.

After hyperventilating for a good five minutes, I finally devised a schedule of events if I actually wanted to make my dream come true. I creatively titled my list “The Game Plan” in order for some enthusiasm toward the task that I wanted to see done this year (since it’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions.) The first mission on my list was to call a truce with my treadmill and commit to running at least four times a week, running a total of 12 miles in the first month. I would gradually increase my speed and intensity in the coming months before the race. Second would be changing what I was going to eat. I could no longer binge on Oreos if I wanted to see results. Sadly, I had to cut down on the number of times I was eating out and had to think of healthier meals to make besides macaroni and cheese. Third was to invest in a box of Kleenex. Every now and then, tears would probably be shed…knowing me, at least. As far as my other preparations for the upcoming 10K, the details will be in my future posts.

Until my next blog post,

-AZ

When It’s Over

The sound of my alarm clock, with its obnoxious and indescribably painful tone, abruptly forced my eyelids open that morning. It was the 10th of December, a day to remember because it was the beginning of the end of all that I knew.  And as I managed to lug myself out of my bed in hopes of sustaining my auditory abilities, I rehearsed the intricate schedule that I had written out the night before. I had also mentally prepared myself in advance for the events that would unfold in the next few days. Ten days to be exact. I prepared myself for the hours that would be consumed just being at the library, the calories that would be burned just walking to the library, the boxes of Kleenex that would be used when moments of hope would be lost and nowhere to be found, the stashes of chocolate that–when I thought about it holistically–would need to be rationed each day in fear that I consumed it all out of stress in order to restore my exponentially dwindling confidence would make its way to E sooner than later.

And indeed, I can say with full confidence that the predictions that I had foretold had sadly come true. And so, for anyone who would be concerned to read this list that I have compiled in regards to finals week, here it is:

ONLY DURING FINALS WEEK THAT…

1. You suddenly become a human clock

You are counting down the days, hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds until your next final. With the next one only hours away, you…

2. Always have a box of Kleenex in your bag

When all hope and optimism is lost amidst stress and thoughts of failure, there’s nothing a box of Kleenex can fix (except a red nose and puffy eyes)

3. Beethoven becomes your BFF

Forget listening to your favorite jams, studying for finals has got you feeling desperate and that means listening to Beethoven even if it doesn’t really make you smarter or study any better. If it’s going to block out the sounds of the person next to you who is always chomping on Doritos in the library, you might as well blast that classic music anyway.

4. You’re basically a ghost.

Friends? What friends? Family? You don’t have one for now. All time must be spent carefully. While social ties are important, you’ll see your friends and family on Christmas, when the times of finals will soon pass.

5. You’re. Always. Eating.

You had a granola bar in the morning. An apple two hours later. Before you know it, you’ve already consumed a good 2,000 calories right before noon. What has gotten into you? Answer: stress. At its finest. Right before your family’s annual holiday party. Have no fear, you can stills shed the pounds right after your last final. Hopefully.

6. You’re now in denial.

One does not simply stop believing that there exists more than what their bare eyes allow them to see. One does not simply wake up to see dawn and force themselves back to slumber like other members of the human race. One does not simply call herself a normal human being. Because you may convince yourself as you please, through all the denial, through all the constant occasional scuffles with your self-consciousness–the very self consciousness which never ceases to undermine you–that you are capable of living a life that is too known to those around you, yet so foreign and un-you. You may try to find sheer happiness in what surrounds you, but at the end of the day, there will always be an emptiness that will subsist with every heartbeat, that will overcome you once the feeling you always knew, the feelings whose presence always closely surrounded you, suddenly disappears. And that’s when you begin to feel your heart beat faster with every second that you realize that you are now indeed, finally, free. Free from the shackles that once held you so close. The shackles that held you against your will. And now that they’re gone, at least for now, the world feels like a different place. Because now it is a different place, indeed. It has been turned into a different realm that you could only experience a flicker of in your dreams; now it is a place guided by the will of your inner desire where you are free to live, sleep, and be as you choose to be. Where you are given the freedoms you so sadly lost so long ago.

This, dear readers, is what happens when you take your last final and you are still in shock of what you have just experienced in the last few days. This is what happens when it’s finally over and you are at ease.

Until my next post,

-AZ

What Was Supposedly Lost

Dear busily-studying, and all the more stressed Readers,

As you all (including myself) are adamantly waiting for Thanksgiving break and Winter break, which will subsequently follow assuming that we will be able to save our grade point averages from their fall over the infinitely steep cliff of doom, I’d like to begin this blog post by thanking you for your consistent support for my some-thousand worded posts and ridiculous ideas that inspire me to keep writing (when I can) considering my heightened and therefore, occupied schedule. And so, without further ado, I’d like to begin my blog post with these assumingly poetic words:

This is the tale of a dreamer.

This is a tale of a dream.

Both are inevitably separated.

Only to be united again.

 

“You…suck.”

Her words hit my face like a crater; hard enough to shatter me into a million pieces, cruel enough to make me feel as irrelevant and useless as floating dust. I was saddened, discouraged, and of course, heartbroken, as if a  plethora of preceding synonyms did not suffice for me to express how my confidence, my future, and my life was ultimately set to end. It was over now. At the age of ten years old, my dream was gone. It dissipated into thin air. Poof.

At the very serious and crucial age of ten years old, as I struggled to wipe away the tears that would reveal my defeat,  I had come to the saddening conclusion that I surely was not meant for the greatness that I had aspired to achieve. I was told- no, I was spat in the face, and told with a sneer and mocking tone, that I was never cut out to be, and could never sport a snazzy snapback, and the ultimately unbeatable, immortal, and” un-mess-able ” persona that most people vie to be when looking at those who are prevalent in mainstream pop culture.  At this milestone in my life, it had (literally) hit me that I could never be Jay-Z or Eminem. Because at this particular milestone in my life, I was sadly convinced that I could never be, and was clearly never destined to be a rapper. Not because I was a female, not because I  was a brown child of a rather smaller and not-so-intimidating physique who was better off holding slides to put under a microscope instead of a microphone. But rather because I was simply told that I didn’t have what it would take.

And so, with my head drooping low, I made my way on my journey through my sad and boring life and was still in search of my medium to greatness. Unless I wasn’t meant for that, either. For years, I searched for solace with the empty space made my in my heart that was in need of wholeness. I found some comfort in journaling, mainly to report fights with siblings, feelings regarding my distaste for my parent’s preference that I could only have ice cream once I finished dinner and not before as I would have wanted. A part of me still wished to write poetry. But I dismissed the thought, and even had to stop my pen, knowing that the words I wrote could never be read aloud and would only stay confined to their two-dimensional form on paper. And that wasn’t what I wanted.

And so, life stayed that way. And soon the dream was almost forgotten, metaphorically speaking, tightly shut in a box and shoved in the back corner of the attic, never heard of again. And practically non-existent. The pain was patched up, and while the wound still hurt, it was now merely a scar that was seen, but numb from being forgotten for so long.

I thought I would never feel the same feelings again. I thought I would go on without knowing what it was like to convey my ideas to the masses, until four years later, when I would find my dream again, but in a better and perhaps more suitable form.

Amidst the pressure to put as many AP and fancy honors classes on my plate during the start of high school, I found myself in an Honors English class that was seemingly uneventful Fall of the year 2009. Clearly motivated only to get the well desired A, more than ready to move onto college where I planned on pursue medicine at the time, I certainly expected nothing short of boring and dry literary texts coming my way. Instead, I found myself more surprised.

As we studied poetry, I found myself assigned to read works by Shakespeare and other elderly men who were far from deceased. That day, however, my teacher had decided to show us a video of Russell Brand’s show, Brave New Voices, a show that allows mainly urban youth to display their talents through the use of something called spoken word. I was instantly mesmerized by the performer’s command of language, her ability to use beat and rhythm (yes, there is such thing as using beat and rhythm in spoken word poetry), while displaying her intelligence which made her all the more convincible and in my mind, pretty fierce. While I still struggle to find the original video to this day, I did however, find other artists that inspired me as I began to discover this new hobby that I had taken to liking.

Spoken word, though it does not require music, is music of its own. It’s the performer who sets the tone; it’s the performer who decides how they want to convey their poem. There’s no technique. There’s no right or wrong. It’s just you, your microphone, and your words. And that is all. After simply watching videos for years, I finally began to write poems of my own. I competed in the Spring of 2013, and though I only placed fifth place in state, knowing that I had performed was an accomplishment. And it wasn’t until then that I started to feel my wounds being healed. And it wasn’t until then that the words of discouragement that were said to me years ago were nothing but wrong. Nothing but hate towards a dream that I had, that was now fulfilled.

Until my next predictably overdue post, feel free to check out a spoken word performance by one of my favorite artists.

-AZ