People, when identifying themselves to the world, often use ‘labels’: for example, mother, wife, daughter, grandmother, lawyer, atheist, millionaires, comedian etc etc, etc. My identity has evolved; I am now Muslim, Blogger, Feminist, Born Again Canadian. Those descriptive words, except for Feminist, were unheard of in the very recent past. Although I have been blogging for more than five years it was not initially at the root of my identity. I became a Muslim on October 20, 2020, but that not integral to my existence immediately. I returned to Edmonton after an absence of fifty-five years, leasing my apartment on June 1, 2022. Each passing day it seems more like home although if anyone had said that even six months ago that I would be returning here to live, I would have told them that they were out of their mind.
We shall first address my identity as a Feminist.
This quote, so profound and meaningful was posted on Instagram. “Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it, possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. Maya Angelo.” This is continues to appear in About Me because it is my motto and the underlying motto and inspiration of this blog. It is a blog that is, one on level, most funny but also profoundly worldy, scientific, serious, intellectual and last, but not least, spiritual. As you shall read I became a Muslim, the inspiration for my reversion is Allah’s treatment of women. They are revered, honored and cherished. Western lazy journalists know nothing of the faith – their laziness and lies have cost Muslims their lives. All over the world, glaringly in Palestine but even in Canada. A family in London, Ontario were run over by a crazed truck driver simply because they were Muslims.
The photograph, formerly gracing the blog but now About Me was one taken by an extremely talented friend, Hannah Laycock. I met her during my sojourn in London that began on September 11, 2014 and ended on March 15, 2017. My student visa expired, had dual citizenship so rather than return to California, I went “home” to Canada, the land of my birth, deserted fifty years before. My return to Vancouver was actually rather short lived – March 15, 2017 until the end of March 2019. Vancouver, was, and is, totally inhospitable, but residency there made me appreciate San Francisco for a short while. But March 15, 2020 heralded the beginning of the pandemic – life in San Francisco became a living hell. It remains a crime ridden desolate place, many neighborhoods unsafe for habitation and even visitation, except by the homeless and criminals. All this hidden from the ‘popular press’. It seemed like magic to return to Marin County on December 1, 2020, the scene of my employment as a lawyer in County Counsel’s office, a place called home, buying and selling real estate throughout my many years there. At first it seemed a haven – Covid-19 under control, better than any other county in the USA – second in vaccinations and overall control only to Dubai who cleaned up their act because of Expo 2020 – which got moved to Expo 2021 because of the pandemic. But Marin proved to be hell – faced horrendous discrimination for being a Muslim woman. Went to Dubai for Expo 2020, did not attend but on the first year anniversary of my reversion to the Islamic faith – went to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi became my new ‘haven’. Returned to Marin, put my possessions in storage and left, planning to get a retirement visa and live the rest of my life in the UAE. But it was all a lie – months after applying for the visa it was denied. No reason given but later was to learn that the banks, owned by the Royals, could not get their hands on my retirement fund as it was safely administered by the Marin County Employment Retirement Association. Without an Emirati ID nothing possible, no phone, no bank account, no apartment, not even a needed second booster shot. So on May 8,2022 I left the Abu Dhabi Airport on a Ethiad Airlines jet head for Canada and its freedoms. PHEW. But back to the history of me.
I first moved to San Francisco from Edmonton in 1967, the Summer of Love. Moved to Marin County in 1973 but it was absolutely essential for me to leave Marin County for London in 2014, to meet my Uncle Dave Dryburgh (1908-1948), and (then rather returning to Marin at Christmas or during school breaks) make pilgrimages to his land of birth, Scotland. A return Canada at the expiration of the student visa allowed me to avoid Trump but I was the first long term (4 months) guest at a newly opened hotel on West Georgia Street. Name? The Trump International Hotel and Tower, not owned by Trump – he owns nothing but unruly, dyed hair – but a multibillionaire by the name of Joo Kim Tiah. Fast forward – we did have a relationship, uncomplicated by sex. He named a building under construction in my name, Alix Residences (look it up). The completion is rather precarious due to the companies’ bankruptcy, which all rather understandable, given the pandemic (heavily invested in hotels) and the short fall of laundered money which funded it all. Did research while still in Vancouver, but did not comment because I feared for my life. But attempt was made on August 18, 2019, and is chronicled on the blog written from the ‘safety’ of London in November of 2019. . Obviously I did survive, but it was a miracle. I now credit my survival to the intervention of Allah.
But back to Hannah’s Laycock’s incredible photograph which has been replaced on the blog by Alexis (aka Fatimah) the Muslim. When I first viewed Hannah’s photograph I wept and occasionally still do. I weep because it captures what I love about myself, my look of hope and optimism, despite a life marred by dreadful childhood abuse that left scars, both physically and mentally. I rather feel like a miracle child, well an old child at this point as I was born in 1943. On my good days I spread joy- living well is the best revenge. The joy I feel and spread becomes revenge because of the knowledge that the people who harmed me, their progeny and their progeny’s progeny are not joyful. Living in a state of denial is paralyzing. I no longer see or communicate with my nuclear family – I am under Doctor’s orders not to do so. I always tell the truth – well, sometimes I exaggerate a little- but not in this case. The move to London on September 11, 2014 was enabled by a student visa. A dreadful mind bending school, cruelly administrated by Julie Wheelwright. Left London at the expiration of the student visa, very obediently. This blog contains all of my experiences in the last days of London, in Vancouver, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, Marin, in the United Arab Emeritus and now back home.
When I lived in London people met me, scratched their heads and said: “Were you always like this?” I don’t know, underneath perhaps. One man said: “Where do you get your energy? You are so creative.” A woman said: “What you exude is confidence. Were you always like this?” I thought as I wandered about the museum, viewing an exhibit on underwear. What is different? What is the same? I am way, way more vulnerable. I am way, way more daring and decisive. I am extremely open and opinionated. I have systematically depopulated my world of negative people, planning to keep all from my life but occasionally not succeeding. I laugh more, early and often. Seriously, tens, if not hundreds, of people comment on my laugh, approvingly. I used to think I had to conquer evil but now I see that this is impossible. Evil plays dirty and the only way you can fight it is to adopt those techniques. Who wants to? All one can do is to step aside. Get out of Satan’s clutches and watch them self destruct. It has been such a so difficult to learn as I am a fighter, it is against my nature. But the joy one feels when you step aside, acknowledging defeat is immense. I read somewhere that admitting defeat is energizing. It is. But not only that, Uncle Dave, when I go to the sidelines, they do themselves in.
My has been blessed in so many many ways. I have had many professionals who are able, competent, helpful, supportive and generally just wonderful. The main man is Chris Jackson, responsible for this blog. Well I do admit that I to the writing, but he posts for me daily and is always there for me. Yeah Chris! This reunion took place in a former favourite place: the Rex Whistler Restaurant in the Tate Britain, London England. Chris and I were both amazed at the number of readers, which is the mark of success on a blog.
He: I pave the road. You drive the car.
Is not that a beautiful statement about the power of collaboration?
But again back to the Hannah photograph. I had a poster made with the photograph and a quote from Albert Camus. “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer.” It describes so perfectly the expression on my face. I weep as I write, but not tears of sorrow but tears of joy.
This quote has been with me, cherished for at least fifty-five years.
It was during my brief return to Marin (December 1, 2020 to November of 2021) that upon a visit to my Primary Care Physician of approximately forty-three years that the following conversation took place. I announced that I had become a Muslim.
Me: When you first met me, forty odd years ago – did you think I would become a Muslim.
He: It was the furthest thing from my mind.
He then wandered around the office saying. “No sex? No sex? No sex?” Muslim women are not allowed to have sex without marriage and I am not married (at the moment). I am a Muslim Virgin. There were, of course, not many Muslim men in Marin. Believe me that was not the only reason why relocated to the Middle East. It was the horrible prejudice and discrimination being a Muslim woman entailed learning the fear that blacks must suffer. All lives matter, said I throughout those dismal days but was forced to say that white Muslim women’s lives matter. But fighting it was useless – instead I escaped to a Muslim country. I was safe as a Muslim but all of my civil liberties vanished and I could not speak out, even here on my blog.
This About Me is constantly being rewritten. Always massive changes, but perhaps not now as I am home. Who knows? Stay tuned.