Ramadan Day 8 – Fast Brain

Hi grumpy bears,

Y’all know what fast brain is, right?

Fast brain (definition) – when a person who is fasting becomes unusually forgetful, is unable to remember details or entire parts of conversation, mixes up words while speaking, forgets what they are saying (usually in the middle of a sentence), forget what they wanted to say, inadvertently flakes on scheduled activities or schedules conflicting activities, looks up and remembers where they are.  Or, any of the above.

Fast brain – paradoxically named – slow brain is more like it.

Fast brain usually happens around the second week of fasting.

Warning: depending on your individual weight, liquid saturation, and overall pre-existing conditions of absentminded-ness – fast brain can occur prematurely.

Warning: people who are ordinarily absentminded will become even more so. Any attempts to blame the situation in which you find yourself as an absent-minded person on fast brain shall be rejected as crying wolf.

This weekend I bought tickets for a show that I’ve heard a lot about from the Don, Coming Out Muslim featuring Wazina Zondon and Terna. I love this quote on their webpage:


“For me, being both [queer and Muslim] has never been a source of internal conflict. I’ve never felt Islam asks me to be something other than what I am. If Allah is closer than my own jugular vein, is the creator of my heart–ya Khalaq! ya Bari! Ya Mussawir!–the source of its blood and beat, how could I despise myself?”

– from Coming Out Muslim


I even coordinated with friends about the date we’d attend, and of course, we all purchased tickets for Wednesday. So yeah, there’s that whole awesome Kweli writing conference for which I also purchased tickets on Wednesday night. Shall I become two?

Ta-dah!

My sister called and said, Meet us at the grave!

When my mom and I pulled up, Bernice was already there holding a glorious bouquet with Booker and Phineas. Phineas was sleeping in the car. Booker was skipping along the gravestones with a notepad and a pen, pretending to take notes. Bernice drew out orange-handled scissors from my mom’s house and snipped away at the stems of the bouquet: roses, carnations, and white mums.

Why’d you get that? I asked.

I just wanted him to have something nicer.

Nicer than the two roses mom and I gave him yesterday? They’re from our backyard. He planted them himself.

She stared at me.

Who’re we kidding? I said. He really loved the backyard roses. But about now, he’d be really grateful that you went and bought him this big bouquet. That way people walking by would know how much we loved him.

We laughed.

We know our dad.

***

I’m in my second day of fasting in California, eighth day overall. Of course this morning, I set my alarm for 3:20 PM instead of AM, and yes, (everybody turn your eyes away), I ended up taking water and some food in after suhoor, the pre-dawn meal.

Key words: pre and dawn.

I chose to continue on my fast today and ask Allah for some understanding. I’m not feeling very skippy about it all. As somebody who plays fast and loose with rules, it pays to have an intuitive sense of why the rules exist in the first place.

Jury nullification – a term that shows you the knuckle-headedness of our criminal injustice system – is the concept that a jury may choose to vote that somebody is not guilty of a crime because they think that the law itself is inherently wrong. Jury nullification, well advocating for it, is illegal. Allegedly, I once crossed the line by arguing in a petty theft case that Walmart was stealing from tons of people everyday, workers, etc. Would it really miss a small item like a CD?

My court partner Debs used to compliment me and say that I was really great at backing up my cases with relevant propositions of law because “You get it.” What she was saying was that I understood the law.

Fair enough. It’s not really the law that ever mattered to me or the law that makes a good lawyer. It’s a propensity toward understanding human behavior – how it manipulates itself and gets all twisty in order to gain power – good power and bad power.

I’d see lawyers all the time be sticklers for interpretation one way or another – or quote passages of law painstakingly. They wouldn’t understand what it meant, and they couldn’t interpret it. They couldn’t see when the words needed to be flexible, and when they needed to stand unbowed.

If one understands a code section, the ability to apply the law (rather than simply recite it) will manifest.

I took that sip of water, after what is indicated in the Qu’ran as the black line and the white line touch – i.e. the white streak of dawn hath appeared distinct from the blackness of night. What bothers me is that I didn’t just forego water and food for the day to see if I would be okay. Instead, I took the water and food thinking that I couldn’t fast without it.

So I’m fasting today, but I’m not fasting because I did or did not follow the rule. I’m fasting because I’m meditating on the reasons why what I did bother me.

I shouldn’t have precluded my ability to get through the day by taking food and water. The food and water are irrelevant. It was my mindset. By doing what I did, I precluded the possibility that Allah would’ve found a way to help me. It bums me out to say I lacked faith, but that’s also the truth.

This is why I believe so much in quiet people who do not react to things quickly – because whether or not they know it, or do it for that reason, their lack of reaction (which I can only achieve by fasting), is also a sign that they are willing to allow things to unfold. They don’t try to control things that aren’t theirs to control.

I don’t think Allah would want me to punish myself in this situation. Rather, I’m fasting anyway, and it’s been feeling more and more peaceful as I gather momentum through the day. The angst starts to fall away. I’m okay, I think. I’m okay letting things go.

***

I’m at the library in Cupertino, up on the second floor where the sun is warm.

Earlier, I tortured myself at Paris Baguette watching my mom, sister, and little cousins eat. I considered stealing Booker’s pizza baguette before my sister saw the look in my eye and shooed me into the corner.

Hypothetically, say I want to go up to this rather sizeable white guy who is playing video games out-loud in the library – no, not that tunnel! This is not happening — and face-slap him. Would this be wrong?

I start to feel guilty because I’m having so many angry thoughts. Where’d they come from? Ew!

It’s a litany of injustices tripping through my mind. All made worse by the fact that I just logged onto Facebook and saw a bunch of people’s feeds who have in some small, Facebookish way or another, slighted me. My mind engine is noticing things that previously I hadn’t even bothered to consider. I’m going down the FB hole. Oh no. Grrh. Grrh.

Adelina Anthony, an amazing performance artist and teacher, once told me on the first day that I met her that people who are angry all the time are actually becoming less intelligent; anger causes their brains to adopt certain pathways that lead to the feeling of anger. This means that they are more likely to be angry and less likely to be flexible in their thinking. (paraphrase)

I wonder if writing about angry feelings helps me to process that anger, or if it only heightens it. Kind of like the way punching your fist into the wall doesn’t actually alleviate anger – it just hurts your fist and you continue escalating.

So I’m sitting around, feeling angry, but NOT reacting because I’m fasting and tired. Now, the dude’s video-game buddy, equally sizeable white guy, is making breakfast plans out-loud with somebody on his cell phone.

My temper is like a worm winding its way through the pathways of my mind.

I hear the call from the speakers: At 3PM, there will be a Forensic Analysis of the JFK Assassination, free at the Community Center.

Must be a sign from Allah.

I mean, I’m just sitting here writing this blog trying to block my pathway of anger?

I pack my bag and make my way to the presentation. The teacher’s creativity is a balm for my festering annoyance.

GMO’s
Twins from Brazil
Shroud of Turin
9/11 WTC
FBI v. Black Panthers
The JFK Assassination

Everybody, please see forensic scientist Mark Okuda, an adjunct lecturer and former high school teacher. He cares deeply about using the Assassination and other events as a way to apply mathematics and help students value math.

Also, he drops awesome tidbits:

“Did you know that there’s a shot of Jacqueline Kennedy crawling on the trunk of the car after the President’s been shot? It looks like she’s trying to help the secret service agent into the car. Later, she says that she was trying to collect her husband’s brain matter. That’s the strength of the human instinct.”

One law of physics:

An object in motion remains in motion in a straight line unless a force acts upon it. In which case it changes direction.

I don’t know always know how to control my temper, but can you imagine this?

 

Red yarn, Stacked chairs, overhead projector

the magic bullet, second shooter, elevated plank seats

sixth floor, Lee Harvey Oswald, Trigonometric table

8 mm camera, Zebruder’s, Dallas Star, printed route

wannabe Walker, rifle, acceleration, conspiracy

several Ear-witnesses

 

***

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ramadan Day 29 – Is This The End, My Beautiful Friend? | Drunken Whispers

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