Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Taking Advice From the Past To Save the Future

// June 2nd, 2009 // 9 Comments » // Blog

You know those Sci-Fi films where the protagonist receives an unexpected visit from their future self, heralding grave news of a disastrously sticky end if they don't do an incredibly important task, that can conveniently be achieved within the 75 minute remainder of the movie?

The kind of scenario that always throws up the problem: “Well, if they complete the mission, then that version of the future will no longer exist. Therefore the character won't be able to return to the past to warn themselves about avoiding said disaster. But without such a warning, the bad things will happen anyway. Ah, but then if they… no, that won't work… unless they manipulate the space-time continuum…? Yes! No. Wait… using the graviton emissions of a nearby worm hole…. perhaps… Multiverse theory would allow… would allow… wo- Oh look: time for Hollyoaks!”.

Anyway, I experienced something like that this evening, at a sisters-circle I attended – but in reverse.

Continue reading my post at MuslimMatters.org…

Dude! Bacteria Are, Like, Democratic?

// April 15th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Blog

Watching this video reminds me of why I love Biology so much. I'd kinda forgotten during the malaise of my PhD. But I really do love scientific discovery.

If you made it to the end of the video: that's a traditional thing among Biologists when they give presentations; they usually big up the rest of their lab via a group photo. See how many people were working on just ONE biochemical pathway? Admittedly, it's a fascinating one, with potentially huge implications; so I doubt Dr Bassler has any problem finding the funding to hire so many eager PhD students and young postdocs.

During my PhD, the neighbouring lab group that shared our floor was largely focussed on researching one gene. I regularly observed the individual team members pairing off to converse about their latest findings, generating new ideas along the way. In contrast, every member of our group was working on a separate pathway, with little crossover between us. Well, I did have another PhD student researching the same gene set as me: but she wasn't one for sharing, unfortunately.

I never really had anyone to bounce ideas off of during my project. I had plenty of people to turn to for technical assistance, but not inspiration. I have learnt that if am not sufficiently inspired, then I become very inefficient in my duties. You don't go into something as dynamic as scientific research for it to then become one big chore. I may as well return to working as a till girl at the local supermarket: the pay is comparable, and I'd have a far more healthy social life.

Watching the video reminded me of why I love Biology… but also, why I love working with people who love Biology as much as I do. I don't know if I'll ever return to working in a laboratory – but it's nice to know that some loves are more constant than others.

Wanted: A Little Slack

// March 3rd, 2009 // 9 Comments » // Blog

This rantish piece was originally intended as an email response. I then realized that I was 'blogging' at the recipient. Blog rants belong on blog posts. Hence my decision to paste it below for public viewing:

Well, if I was happy to stay in research, I wouldn't have a problem finding a job either, Allahu 'alam.

It's because I cannot tolerate that claustrophobic, isolating environment any longer, that I decided to look elsewhere for employment.

Unfortunately, I am quite clueless as to what I should concentrate on in the long term. I have to factor in the remote possibility of future wifely and motherly duties, which realistically, precludes the pursuit of any career that demands a great deal of my time and energy. This is not helped by the dearth of part-time jobs in my sector (the ones I find are either managerial roles for which I am underqualified, or technician jobs for which I am overqualified).

Add to that the fact that this is the first time I am job seeking as an “obvious” Muslimah (i.e., avec hijab), which does actually put some employers off.

Then there is the debate about whether Muslim women should be in the Western workplace at all. Yes, I do think about such things, and definitely don't miss the regular angst of 'handshaking' incidents, and having to constantly reign in my blabber-mouth personality in front of the opposite gender, all of whom so far have been non-Muslim, and thus don't usually understand the internal conflict that their “friendly” behaviour (and even antagonistic behaviour, at times) can pose for me.

I know I'm not the only one going through this. But my point is that I'd like people to cut me some slack.

Alhamdulillah, I am not in debt. I live at home with parents who can afford to house me. Indeed, if it wasn't for the pressure that they're placing on me, I wouldn't even bother looking for a conventional job. I am happy to tell friends and strangers that I am officially unemployed, but spend my time on other important pursuits – leaving the exact details vague, so as not to show off.

In fact, the only two things that I miss from my eleven years of working are:

  • A regular, stable source of income. I am useless at budgeting. Therefore, when I try to save money, it usually ends up that I don't spend any money, whatsoever. Miserliness sucks, and so I do need something coming in to avoid that extreme. Plus, I hate scrounging off my dad.
  • A regular, stable source of human company. My personal tradition has been to make friends through school, university, or work, usually because that is where I have spent most of my life. Recent exceptions have been some sisters that I met through local classes, such as self-defense and Islamic studies. But they work/study full-time, which means Mon-Friday, I am friendless, bar the odd evening meet-up.

Yes, it's a little embarrassing that a woman with three degrees, and the title “Dr” before her name should be unemployed, and more than that, is now facing a problem that most people sorted out in their late-teens/early 20s: the question of “What should I do with my life?”.

However, the embarrassment factor is relative. People make me feel ashamed, by inferring that I have something to be ashamed off.

Did I purposely pick the wrong career path, so I'd end up in this position? Err, no…

Could I have thought about it more before deciding to pursue a PhD? Err, maybe? Allāh knows best. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

I am not looking for anyone's sympathy. More like: I want to be left alone. Unless you have a real job to offer me; then hey, I am all ears! Other than that, general concern is welcome, but making me feel small, and a bit useless, is not. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, but there you go.

I Don’t Do Labels

// February 7th, 2009 // 11 Comments » // Blog

I have recently discovered something about myself.

I really don't like to be labeled.

I am not referring to my Islam (i.e., Sunni, Salafi, Shi'a, etc.). Rather, me, as a person.

(more…)

Death for the Living

// January 4th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Blog

Many would agree that death is a greater problem for the living, than for those who have actually passed on. Muslims find solace in the prayer that their loved ones are at peace, in a “better place”, no longer suffering. This is especially true for those who died in a state of innocence, such as children, and the oppressed.

However, we, the owners of hearts that still beat, are left to grieve, to feel the pain that resides deep in our cores; a wound that opens every time we realize the absence of the ones whom we loved.

(more…)

Death in the Family

// January 3rd, 2009 // 15 Comments » // Blog

My uncle (mother's eldest brother) has passed away. He was in his 70s, and had been ill for several years due to heart trouble. I pray that he is at peace now.

I would appreciate it if you would include him in your prayers.

May Allāh forgive him his sins, accept his good deeds, elevate his status, and spare him any punishment in the grave, and the hereafter. May Allāh also grant my family patience in their time of grief; especially my mother, who looked to him as a father figure.

Āmīn thumma āmīn.


Photo Credit

No Surprise To Me

// December 2nd, 2008 // 8 Comments » // Blog

I'll admit: when I am upset, I don't always turn to the right places for comfort. The kitchen is usually my first port of call. Sometimes sleep. Sometimes friends.

But what happens when your stomach doesn't fill?

And your brain refuses to switch off?

And friends don't pick up the phone?

(more…)

I’m a Mechanic?!

// November 22nd, 2008 // 19 Comments » // Blog

Whilst a budding Biology undergraduate, I wasted many an afternoon in the computer room, filling out pointless online personality tests, such as: “Which Icecream Flavour Are You?”. I think I was Raspberry Ripple – whatever that means. Or is that my favourite flavour? I forget.

Thus I was quite keen to visit a site I just discovered via Marahm's blog, called Typelyzer, which – simply put – is a personality quiz that requires you to answer just one question:

What's your blog address?

Obviously, it's a service that is only open to the blogging 'elite' (all several million of us).

This is what it had to say about moi:

(more…)

A Leech is Born

// November 14th, 2008 // 8 Comments » // Blog

I assigned myself the somewhat derogatory title of “The Leech” during my PhD years, when I noticed a potentially annoying personal behaviour.

When faced with a problem, I used one of two 'extreme' paths in my search for a solution.

Where I suspected that I knew enough to fix the problem myself, I was very secretive, independent, and head strong. Even if someone offered me advice (though it would not have been requested), I'd politely listen to them, but in my head I was thinking:

“Yeah, yeah, I already knew that.

“No, that won't work.

“Please, just let me get on with it!”.

I think it had something to do with trying to 'prove' myself; either to my supervisors, or just as an ego rush. This behaviour lead to me wasting six months on an experiment, that never yielded any results. I kept repeating and repeating the assay, and I would report my work regularly, but I never actually thought to sit down and talk to someone about why I was failing so consistently; I was that determined to solve the problem myself.

One supervisor openly chastised me for this, and I think the embarrassment from that experience, combined with the frustration of having clearly wasted so much time, caused me to swing the other way completely. Thus, 'the Leech' was born.

Now, every time I had a problem, even a tiny one, I would seek human intervention. It didn't matter whether there were manuals written on the subject, or in-depth how-tos posted online; I still needed reassurance from someone more experienced in that field, to make sure that I didn't mess up to that extent again. I am surprised no-one ran away from me in the hall ways, screaming:

“Noooo… I have given all I have to give! You have sucked my brain dryyyy!”.

(more…)

Protected: He Think He So Gangsta [RegOy]

// October 18th, 2008 // Enter your password to view comments. // Blog

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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