30 May 2016

Fire in the belly

You could say I have a fire in my belly.

Of course you could say it. You can say whatever you like. I don’t care. I will not raise a finger to stop you.

Besides, it’s true.

A Kindling, they call me. With a long “I”. Kīndling. I am not aware of whether it is the name of the thing itself – the genetic affliction, that is – or the name of all those who suffer from the affliction or something specific only to my instance of it.

But it is all the same, in the end. My name is Nasreen. I am a Kindling and I have a fire in my belly.

25 May 2016

The one about the key

It was not an old key.

Being several years old by this time, it was not a new key, but neither would it have been characterized as old by a casual observer. It still retained a shine about it.  Those qualities so often associated with old keys in the popular imagination – dirt down in the grooves, finish worn off by the rubbing of fingers, a bit of rust here and there, perhaps – were wholly lacking.

The key owed its youthful appearance to a happy accident: It was rarely used. Most frequently, I entered my home not through the front door (which would have required use of the key in question) but rather through my garage (which did not).

Therefore, previous use of the key was limited to those occasions when I approached my home on foot.

I believe the key had a fault.

The key entered the keyhole without incident. I felt the pins clicking into place, sure, but in general this is not a part of my story upon which I must dwell. I fear I have said too much about it already.  

It was when it came down to the actual turning of the key in the lock that everything went awry.

I should probably take a moment here to explain that I do not have unusually powerful fingers. I am not an arm wrestler. I see no reason why my finger strength would exceed that of, say, the average American.

But I believe the key had a fault. I turned it to the left at a reasonable speed but at just the right angle. Or perhaps at just the wrong angle. I was left standing there holding what is commonly called the “bow” of the key and part of the “shoulder”.

This left me without the “cuts” and the tip which, as I now realize, are truly the most important parts of any key. This experience taught me that. Yet those critical portions were still within the lock, having parted ways with the fragment between my fingers.

The reality of my predicament was slow to sink in.

I sat.

I contemplated homelessness.

“Well, I suppose I live on this front stoop now,” I said aloud.

19 May 2016

My understanding

Take everything in this world that I understand and put it in a pile.

Then take everything in this world that I don’t understand and put it in a different pile, all its own.

In the first pile – the one with the things I understand – you’ve got about three things:
  • The lyrics to Aesop Rock’s 2012 LP, Skelethon, certainly;
  • The basic prayer and fasting rules for Islam, I think; and
  • My brother’s wry sense of humor. 

The other pile – the one with the things I don’t understand – now, that one is taller. Dramatically so. Even prohibitively so, perhaps. Nearly everything is in there. It is a mountain. Teetering.

This Saturday, there is to be a protest. That has been decided. The protest is of a library. The library contains books on Islam.

They call themselves Heart of Texas – the protesters, I mean – and they are a group that fights for Texas secession from America. This is their whole mission and purpose, in fact.

They want to leave America.

I don’t want to leave America, but I went to their facebook page and the people there told me I should:

What does it mean when people who want to leave America tell me that I should leave America?

Is it an insult or a statement of camaraderie?

You can add this to the pile of things that I don’t understand. 

14 May 2016


There are tadpoles in the street.

We go and get them. Some of them, we go and get. Not all of them, for there are many thousands of tadpoles or maybe more. I don’t know. I cannot be expected to count all of the tadpoles.

It seems a strange place for tadpoles to be, doesn’t it? Yet they are there every year. First, the rains come and then when they go, they leave small puddles behind, right up against the curb.

This is where the tadpoles are.

09 May 2016

How we got here, vol. 2

By now, some of you perhaps have recognized “How we got here, vol. 1” as a history. A history of sorts, at any rate. A history lesson at best, which is not the same as to say that I know more history than the next person. I do not.

Depending on who the next person is, I do not.

I say only that it is a history lesson and that I am the one writing it, for good or ill.

When we last saw Steve and Bill, you’ll remember, they were back in their small town staring at the desert, having made a real balls of it.

06 May 2016

How we got here, vol. 1

This could be how it happened. This is my understanding of how it happened:

Once upon a time, there was a small-time mayor named Muhammad ibn Saud.

Muhammad ibn Saud.

Now, for all my non-Middle Eastern readers, do not let the exotic name intimidate you. No. In fact, let’s just call him “Steve.”

Steve wasn’t really much of a leader. He didn’t have much power, but he wanted it. He sat around like small-timers do and schemed of ways to get more power. Much more.

01 May 2016

A near miss

To you, that fortunate jogger who narrowly avoided getting smashed by my automobile yesterday:

You are fortunate.

You have no idea how fortunate you are.

Probably you don’t even know how close to death you came. Or, if not coming to death per se, then to serious injury. Serious enough that any health benefits of your jogging regimen would pale in comparison.