03 January 2019

the new tales of the odango hijabi

Welcome and Assalam Alaikum to the renovated Sherry and Cookies!

I've added some fun features, so just scroll down for blog content.

General suggestions, comments, questions, feel free to leave them here.

It's still a work in progress, but years overdo, it's finally shaping up!

Thank you for your patience!

14 March 2016

What You Need to Know About My Medication

It's almost predictable...yet another bout of "You're a champ, ElleJay, you don't need no stinkin' meds," because of countless people telling me how much better I'll be, won't it be great and how much healthier I'd be. ...if I could just get off of them with the help of this spinal stimulator, its trial just finished and permanent surgery pending insurance approval, the miracle technology for two years I've been fighting, is my chance, to essentially, be the human being they want me to be. I realize how truly idiotic it is because I've been prescribed my medication for very good reasons.

Indeed, I want this stimulator to work. I want a more active life, one in which I am no longer literally imprisoned in my home. Independently of that, it would be ideal to be free of medication. That could be a long ways a way. It might never happen. And it sure isn't a value of my fucking worth.

I could make millions of copies of all of my medical paperwork in pretty coloured paper, hire someone to fold it into origami, throw a party for everyone who have urgent "questions, suggestions, and advice," and have the lovely creations rain down from the ceiling from a net like confetti, or less dramatic, prepare them all very neat binders with sticky notes, passive language, lots of emojis, photos, and friendly words they can understand, but it would not make a difference. You know why?

They watched the news the one time and heard BAD. They don't know how, but they know that everyone who takes opioids regularly, ahem, narcotics, well that definitely leads to addiction. That word narcotics, what is it associated with? Drug sniffing dogs. Teenagers popping pills. Failed drug tests that gets the bad eggs fired. Those people on Law and Order who shake and sweat who were once "good people" and now "have a problem." Your friend who knew someone who's a total loser. People who sell their extra from the dentist for hundreds of dollars. It explains every time someone who takes medication has a not pleasant emotion because we're not allowed to be angry sometimes. Are you studying my pupils? How many times I've taken a pill today? Do I look nervous to you?

Do you know how ridiculous you sound?

Yes, addiction is real. No, it does not apply to the majority of people with physical chronic illness and disability. To those of us who literally grew up being sick. Who spend our lives in perpetual fucking misery cherishing any good moment. Who look at our pills and want to flush them down the toilet. We have to take so damn many that some days the sheer number we swallow, just swallowing them, makes us feel nauseated. Then a few minutes later we feel nauseated some more from the side effects. Maybe they make us forget things constantly, make it hard to put together sentences, give us nightmares, give us half the brains we used to have.

So go on, remind me how sick I am. Kick me while I'm fucking down. Remind me how the thing I take to make laying in bed slightly less excruciating isn't good for me when without it laying in bed would be akin to Medieval torture. Have your experienced the sensation of when your veins simultaneously feel as if they are being lit on fire, ripped apart with knives, and are about to burst?

A photo posted by ElleJay Volpe (@frill_ability) on

Do you want to hold my hand as I scream and cry inconsolably? But no, you can't always touch me, because sometimes when you touch me it hurts. Do you want to bring me my meals when I can't get to food? Do you want to carry me when I can't walk? Do you want to make sure my head doesn't hit hard objects when I have a seizure? Watch me as I drool over myself and loudly vocalize, losing control over my body? Do you want to bring me to the bed when it's over?

Do you want to make sure that I have food so I don't pass out? Can you make sure I don't forget to take my medication? (...because I do, frequently.) Can you deal with the mental illness I've acquired because of all of the bullshit I've racked up over the years, the anxiety, the OCD. Do you want to deal with this? Do you want to take me to every doctor's appointment? See me naked in the least attractive way? Do you want to be in charge of saving my life when I can't?

No? I didn't think so.

Then please, shut the fuck up about my damn medications so I can get to a healthier place in peace.

22 February 2016

I'm not a good Muslim...

art by Andina Irvani, her self-portrait, and I related! great work, Andina!

I don't think I ever will be. I was never a good Catholic, and I was a pretty mediocre Wiccan. Here's my issue: I don't think any religion that, at its core, preaches love is incorrect. I truly believe our Creator gave us life, made us different, and encouraged us to wonder about the world in different ways to test us, to see in part how well we could take care of each other despite those differences. Would we rage war, hate, ignore, and segregate, or would we learn to blend some traditions (appropriately, not in a way that is appropriation), respect, learn, and admire?

It is obvious and depressing which answer the world has chosen time and time again, at least with the loudest voices and the most horrific methods. ...always that single off-key voice, forte, in a choir singing pianissimo, cutting through and wrecking the gentle overtone. That is a very different conversation. I hope it is not always so. The quiet, beautiful things, the kindnesses shared, are never the ones picked up by the news or trended enough on social media. I guess they haven't sunk quite far into our pores to start the chemical reaction needed to make the difference humankind desperately needs. (...in my mind, to survive.)

Islam is where I feel closest to God. There are more than a few things I disagree with and definitely separate me from the greater community. Namely, I'm gay. (You can read what the Qur'an actually says about homosexuality here.) I don't think as long as you're responsible and do it in moderation, drinking should be something for which one is condemned. I believe a person should be allowed to date before married if they please, and there's a bunch of other things the haram police would come after me for, I am sure. Like leggings.

sourced from Zaina Arafat's article on VinePair.com

No, I don't believe I'm going to Hell for any of these. I don't think I need to repent for my occassional glass of wine, the gender or absence thereof of the people I love, or my yoga pants. A lot of people will tell me differently. Years ago, I did drink way too much because I lost my self-respect, there was an alcoholic in my life that made my behaviour seem normal to me after it had started. After they had started to scare me, I saw what I could turn into, I put my foot down and made a change in my life that I'm glad for. I stopped drinking for a few months, and when I felt comfortable, I slowly reintroduced alcohol in a healthy, normal way. I was unhappy with the relationships in my life and the attention I was attracting. That is what I needed to focus on and what I need to continue to make sure never happens again.

So, who am I? What do I stand for? What is the role of Islam in my life? Well, I'm a pretty progressive person. I stand for equivalency and the right to choose in the context of a safe, compassionate environment where people take responsibility for their actions and feel the reasonable, humane consequences of them. I believe in self betterment, a balance of independence and interdependence, constantly learning, emotional intelligence, open communication, and putting oneself outside their own perspective to understand another. That's a few things, briefly.

peeks of what I've been up to lately...
In terms of Islam, I am continuing to learn. I know what's most important to me are the teachings and life of our Prophet, Muhammad, (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). I want to read all of and learn as much as I can about the Noble Qur'an. I want to find a schedule and method of prayer that is amicable to my health and a new masjid close to my new home. (I finally feel stable in my living situation.) I also want to continue to enrich myself by learning about other religions over my lifetime because I think not educating myself about things I don't understand is foolish. (No, no interest at all in moving away from Islam!) I will continue to incorporate little parts of past traditions because they will always be important to me.

My friend Ammar who is also Muslim stated in a post on his personal Facebook post today (not linking yet for his privacy,) that he's not religious, but he is spiritual. He continued, "Being spiritual is between you and whatever you believe in or don't believe in. Being religious, to me is following what everyone else is adhering to, which are generally a bunch of traditions that weren't part of the original message in the first place." It struck me, which is why I wrote today. Be true to your personal beliefs. If they have to change, change them, but make them meaningful. Follow through.

I wish you blessings and light on your own path, whatever it may be. As you walk down that road, use your candle to light your neighbor's or a nearby lamp. You won't extinguish your flame by lighting another's. You will help light the way for more to come.


28 July 2015

so, are you converted yet?

"When did you convert?"

"You should be doing it this way..."

"Are you...converted??"

Saying, "Yes, I have fully converted! I am now officially a Muslim!" in this short of a timeframe would be fairly unprecedented, and I think irresponsible. I started wearing hijab for all of the reasons I explained in my previous post and as a symbol of my decision to make this transition of faith. It is my desire to be Muslim. I am here to learn so that I may one day say, yes, I have completely converted.

A transition of faith, a feeling, a belief, no matter how heartfelt will never give me all of the knowledge I need. All of what I have been doing are baby steps. They are not going to inform me of all of the relevant social issues that, let's face it, are numerous in Islam. They will not ~magically~ give me experience. They will not make me wise.

People have told me that Islam is not just a religion; it is a way of life. I'm basically stepping into a whole new culture that is rooted in a lot of other cultures. Not to mention, the fact that I am in a relationship with a woman puts me in a very difficult position. Do I have expectations that this will be a rainbows and sparkles, reflective of the of the dreamy pastel world with which many believe I am so obviously disillusioned? No, of course not. It's not very easy now, but I am allowed to be happy. I am allowed to not dwell on the negative aspects.

Today, I started the process to sign up for classes. I am not sure if I can take the three of them concurrently, or if they must be taken progressively. Either way, I am looking forward to them! They are evening classes and on separate days of the week. Thankfully, they are also free! One night of the week is that night everyone meets up, first for weekly prayer, then for socialization. I think this will be a very positive experience.

Every Muslim convert's experience is different. Let's first take a look at the following individuals, for example, from the article "Why Do Western Women Wear Hijab" published in 2010 by Dr. Janet Testerman, a faculty member in the English Department of Gulf University for Science and Technology. (If you're reading this, Dr. Testerman, you can stop now. I am not well-written. I apologize that you've made it this far.) It is a look into why women wear hijab, why they converted, and their experience in a clash of cultures which something that most Westerners, including myself, will not have experienced. She has some other interesting academic articles around the topic of religious conversion and Islamic fashion that you might find interesting.

It interviews several Western women living in Kuwait who had converted to Islam, began wearing hijab, married a Muslim man in Kuwait, or some combination of the aforementioned. The focus of the article was mainly on the women wearing hijab, and Testerman noted that the hijab had a slightly different meaning for each hijabi:

"The significance of wearing hijab varied among the interviewees with some, like Rashida, Sakina and Teresa, assigning great importance and deep meaning to the headscarf with others like Brenda, Mickey and Lana finding wearing the abaya and headscarf to be handy in that it freed them from expending energy on fashion and hairstyling.  In every case, however, peer pressure, social pressure and male pressure bore profoundly on their decisions, perhaps overpowering their ability to practice hijab purely from their hearts.  The dichotomy between voluntary, genuine devotion and conforming behavior grounded in fear presided over the women’s actions."

However, the stark cultural differences between the United States and Kuwait, as one would imagine, are many. Life has changed significantly for them:

"While she worked as a phlebotomist in Saudi, Mickey faced sexual harassment, rude comments and unsolicited advances until she decided to cover, even before she converted. Even Lynda, who is still Christian, feels the sting of public disapproval if she does not dress modestly, and she conforms to protect her husband and his family from public humiliation. ‘He knows I’m American, he knows I’m not going to wear a hijab. Now, that does not mean that I can wear just anything.  If we’re in the United States, then I wear sleeveless tops.  I have to watch what I wear here (in Kuwait).  I would not wear sleeveless out.  It’s amazing because a lot of times people would think of someone who wears that as a loose person.  I don’t want to embarrass him or his family and make them think I’m a wild American. I dress more conservatively because of him. The people living in our apartment building would see me and think that my moral fiber is less than it should be.  You don’t want the neighbors to think that you’re…there are prostitutes in this country."

Have you ever had serious concerns about your reputation and your family's reputation, potentially for generations, because of wearing a tank-top? This is a reality for women in Kuwait. This is not akin to worrying about getting posted to a hate website because your outfit is bad or someone doesn't like you. I have never had to think about this at any point in my daily routine. Have you? One woman, Gwen, had to accept the fact that jogging was no longer an option:

"I was surprised when Gwen told me she missed running, and activity she frequently enjoyed in the US: ‘The fact that I can’t go running out here really bothers me.  You can’t even go walking as a woman out here.  That’s a cultural thing.  I can’t go walking.  Well, with somebody, a male somebody.  As a family we go to the park and we walk and everything but like for me to go, especially like I used to love to run in the evening, to just go out, you know.  It’s not an Islam thing, because in California and Michigan I went running, I had a spandex hijab I even made. It’s funny but I used to run and swim, everything, but over here…’  When I told Gwen I both ran and walked by myself at all times of day, here, in Kuwait, and asked why, since it was Islam she was practicing and not the culture, she couldn’t’ still run and walk without a male escort she replied ‘I could, but there would be cultural implications.  So do you want to be seen as “oh, that woman, that woman on the block who runs”?’  I then asked her about what social effects could possibly arise.  She said ‘…the culture here affects your family.  It affects a big, big circle of effects.  That’s what I picked up about the culture, that you do one little thing, good or bad, usually bad, it spreads more, but it has these ripple effects throughout history.  Your children’s children will be judged by that thing that you did.  That’s strictly culture.’ When I joked that she should strap her running shoes on and go run she said ‘That’s a freedom you have in the States you don’t have here.  You can behave like this is my religion, so I’m going to cover, but I’m going to do this (run).  Over here you can do that but you’re going to justify yourself to 100 people.’" 

Despite this, she's not in opposition to the hijab. She readily accepts and supports wearing it without forcing her beliefs on others:

"For Gwen, however, the hijab was not that big of a philosophical deal ‘It’s part and parcel of being a Muslim.  It’s not huge; it’s huge in the fact that it’s visible.  You know, prayers are invisible, fasting is invisible. So it’s big and I recognize how big it is to everybody else.  And it is about modesty…I think I’m doing the right thing.  I try to do what I should be doing and I believe the hijab is something I should be doing.  As far as what anybody else does with their hair, I don’t really care.  It’s not like…when my daughter gets of age, she chooses it.  I won’t force.  I don’t think it’s a real reflection of how great a person is.  I really have a problem with that.’"

Paradoxically, Gwen also takes part a little in the judgment of others. This was interesting to me as she was under pressure of potential judgment herself, being held back from a favourite activity that could effect her greatly if she participated. It seemed like she was particularly aware of social pressures and against them here,

"Theresa’s and Gwen’s beliefs that a woman’s character should not be judged by the presence or lack of hijab is not widely shared in the Muslim world.  There is an enormous amount of social pressure for women to conform to modest dress standards.  And even though Gwen, herself, may not ascertain others’ worth according to their headwear, she is acutely aware, and fearful, of the wrath of public censure for those who do not conform.  ‘There’s a lot of judging other women and how well adorned they can be and whether the hijab can be pink or not.  In the States you can recognize a Muslim by (whether) she’s wearing a headscarf.  So whenever I see one I smile, you know, but if I was wearing jeans and she’s in her full thing, sometimes she won’t smile back.’ " 

 seems to be relaxed at home,

" Thus, Gwen wears a looser, more revealing veil indoors but outdoors, out of fear of public censure she covers her hair and neck completely because of what neighbors will say. ‘Outside I’ll wear the actual scarf so they’re not asking ‘Oh why is she showing a little hair here?’  I think there’s way too much interest placed on dress.” She whispered “Way too much.  People here see you wearing a hijab and (think) “Oh you’re a great Muslim” but maybe I don’t pray.  It’s very frustrating.’"

but then goes on to make the following remark,

"On the other hand, Gwen had already begun to practice the cultural custom of judging others’ hijab-worthiness: ‘So you have the Quran and the sunna which make up how you practice.  So you put it all together and I believe that you should cover your hair, but not just your hair.  You see people cover their hair but they have full makeup on.  Yeah, so how modest is that?  In my view, you will be answerable for wearing the hijab.  But that’s not just covering hair. You’re wearing skin-tight everything else and just covering your hair, whoop-dee-do. Got full makeup on and covering your hair?  God’s not stupid, right?  Who you think you’re fooling?’"

As you can see, this is a deeply complex issue, and in the example of Gwen, there seems to be a battle externally, as expressed by what she can and cannot do, and internally as her mode of cultural expression varies or changes over time. This was five years ago. How do you think her opinions have changed? How about how she expresses herself?

I live in an enchanted place where I have a great freedom of expression. As I enter into Islam and conform to rules of dress, it's because I have chosen it. There won't be these layers upon layers of additional ideologies I have to think about just walking outside.  The only time I could be judged similarly would be by stepping into a Muslim space where, depending on the cultural background, school of thought, and level of conservativeness of an individual or group of individuals, will I be judged. It would not by an entire society like the woman in this article.

I'd like to end every post with the daily Hadith from my app "Hadith of the Day." Today's Hadith is about undesirable traits. (It can also be found here.)

I had no idea what Al-Mustafaihiqun was, and according to this Hadith which looks the same as the above, but further elaborated, it means, "the arrogant people." Garrulous, I'm embarrassed to say I did not know the definition of it, and darn it, am I very guilty of excessive talking in a rambling, round-about manner. 

Looks like if I want to do okay on the Day of Resurrection, I need to work on my brevity. We all could do well to think of our manners more often, and be more humble. It is part of the path to Jannah, and a great way to help others feel more considered everyday.

26 July 2015

A Return to The Parlour for Sherry and Cookies: A New Path

For the time being, if there was such a thing, I'm drinking the non-alcoholic variety of sherry, or perhaps just a lot of milk tea. I returned to the Queen Anne two weekends ago, and I had my last few sips (with cookies.) I had technically stopped drinking before then, but I had to make a small exception for such an occasion. My life has vastly changed and is still changing. Incredible, terrible, and wonderful things have happened, and to have lived them, I am blessed.

I am returning here because there are too many things I want to talk about that don't quite fit into Frill-Ability, but I think are worth talking about. Apparently, you want to hear about them. That is very cool! I want this to be about you, too, like when we used to do Lolita a Lolita! I talk about myself too much, and it gets boring. When one is in her head and the majority of her time is spent with three cats and a chihuahua, she might occasionally forget her social graces. By now, it is entirely possible I am more cat than human.

Lolita is a very different role in my life now as you may well already know. I still love la vie enchanteur and quaintrelle and kawaii aesthetic, but right around the point where I stopped writing here, I realized there was a hole inside of me. I couldn't write here anymore because I had too much to work through on my own. When traumatic things occur, occasionally things that once were paramount no longer take even fourth priority. That was Lolita fashion for me.

Lolita was not what I lived for. It could not be my purpose. I think I was only so obsessed as the typical "lifestyler" that I was because I was extremely disillusioned. I felt blocked from ever being a successful person. I didn't think there would ever be answers to my health, and I was in a troubling relationship.

After I left the relationship, my life crumbled. It was all I ever knew since 18 years old, and I didn't know what to do. After some rides and crashes, I started having successful runs, but I had to knead the dough of my own trials, roll around in their mud, and let all the mess I created slowly cake in the sun before I could understand what was happening. (My romantic life is both fascinating and tragic. I could write a book.)

Coming a-ways down will be something that was already posted on Facebook. I'd prefer that blurbette didn't get lost in the abyss of disorganization and lack of ability to reference past posts that is that social network thus, a repeat. The decision this post is ultimately about that I'm zigzagging around is up there with my bigger life decisions, and it could not have happened at a better time for me as I have been experiencing significant personal strife lately.

I had been getting small inklings that this was something I had to do as I spoke to Muslim individuals I knew as friends/loosely as acquaintances for some time, or admired their lives from afar online. This yearning to make a change was kept it in the back of my mind because (1) major religion hadn't done well by me in the past despite being highly spiritual, and (2) more recently, I wanted to stick to my guns with the path I had [previously] chosen. However, sometimes old friends drift away, and by divine intervention, someone new comes into your life to teach you an important lesson. Resisting this will only bring you grief, sorrow, and a missed opportunity.

When I could no longer ignore it, I started to do research to discover if...Islam...was indeed the path for me. So that it wouldn't entirely be a surprise, I slowly (1) dropped (2) hints (3). Unbeknownst to the Internet, I made the decision to wear hijab in public on this past Tuesday, July 21. I was watching some tutorials on YouTube, and this one from HijabHills inspired me to be true to what I had been feeling for so long:

and here was my very first try:
"Allahu Akbar" means "God is the greatest" in Arabic. it is a very important Islamic phrase in prayer, as I'm learning.

The scarf I was wearing is something my mother gifted me some time ago as a "normal" scarf that happened to look nice. The underscarf I was wearing is less legitimate. I was crafty. I was concealing it very well because it's not a proper one at all. It doesn't match, but it does the job. (It's like this spandex neckwarmer deal that's roughly the length and shape-ish of an underscarf, but really not the right colours or material.)

If you're following the dress code, one must follow certain rules of modesty. This is something I am choosing to do. I am now choosing to cover myself to about my wrists, my neck, all of my chest, all the way down to my ankles, not wear form-fitting clothing, and of course, cover my hair. What does this mean to me? A little more than I can articulate, but I am going to try.

Alhamdulillah, (Praise to Allah,) I am liberated. Many would think me oppressed. Instead, I am my own, and I am of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). While I will always be a sex-positive (definition: in support of enjoyable, consensual sex) person, I am pretty tired of being objectified, and I am loath to put myself in situations where I will catcalled, hit on, groped, or worse because of the way I am dressed. 

Am I the problem? No. Do I feel like other people need to make my decision? Absolutely not. Dressing modestly in this way and wearing hijab, however, makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I have a better chance that someone might see me as a person as opposed to an object of sexual desire. My past makes me very frightened to exist in this world. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) is my knight, and my hijab is my shield. Everyday I go into battle, for my modesty, for my dignity, for my life. This is all I have.

There are those who hold beliefs that Islam is naturally oppressive towards women and anti-feminist. If you were one of those people, I hope this has helped dispel those feelings. If not, you can also read these articles (1) (2) (3) and watch the following poignant video surrounding the topics of Muslim Feminists and the hijab as a sign of feminism itself.

It wasn't very scary coming out as lesbian for the first time. (The second time to my Muslim friends, YES, but that's another story.) Coming out as Muslim and a hijabi when I barely know what I am doing. Absolutely terrifying. Allahu A'lam. (God knows best.) Luckily, there is a large Muslim population here, and plenty of resources. Right away, I ordered my first "real hijabs" online, and I went to an Islamic bookstore. There I bought books, my prayer rug, prayer beads, and one hijab and one underscarf to hold me over until the rest of them arrived.

When I went to the bookstore, the sister who worked there, ("sister" and "brother" is how Muslims refer to others within the faith,) was even more kind than I could have hoped for. She was a good teacher, a hard worker, very complimentary, and so willing to be my friend. I can't wait to go back. She even had the coolest galaxy-printed hijab. Mashallah, I'm so happy we met.
the hijab I bought that day--it's a chiffon material with roses and sparkle detail. the underscarf has multi-coloured lace.
A couple days after this, on 7/24, my package from UniqueHijabs.com arrived. By that time, I had been getting in prayer practice daily, researching more and more everyday, and I felt very secure. There was no way I was turning back. I think what solidified my faith the most was beginning to read this book that I am still working on:

It claimed that the following are the major sins. Now, some are pretty basic that one would expect out of an ancient religion, i.e. Sodomy., but others were pleasantly surprising.

By this account, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) commands you not to speak poorly of others, not to lie, not to cheat, not to be deceitful, and biggie--NO ABUSE OR FEELING HURTING. Oh, and, of course, God is your one and only homeboy; there is absolutely no cheating on Him. If you're a believer, why would you need any other deity? He has no partner, and His gifts are great! We owe Him everything. I digress, I knew that kindness and high code of conduct are what I needed to hold myself to, and now I understood why the Muslims I have met are so amazing.

I needed to be honest with the people I share pieces of my life with on a daily basis and tell them what was going on:

"...Before everything hit the fan recently, as I talked about in a previous post, I started investigating a new path religiously. This must have been divine intervention. I have needed God in the past two days very much. It seems to be perfect timing. Yet again, life turned itself upside down. It seems to be righting itself, and I think everything is going to be okay.

I used the last bit of personal money I had apart from what is set aside for monthly bills to go towards purchasing learning materials and other materials that I need to participate in this religion. It's one of the only things I'm holding onto right now.

Today, I have hope, I found a local center, and Brie and I are going to go together in the next few days. (She is not participating, just accompanying.) I'd like to see if they have adult classes. I'm currently learning how to pray properly, the proper way of dress, the core tenants, basics of language and pronunciation, and general things one must know about the way of life.

I've talked to some local Muslims in person and have been met with much warmth. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy. There is a local book store with all of the things one would ever need at very low prices, and they are very beautiful. The people who own it are wonderful.

According to sbia.net:

'One becomes a Muslim by saying, 'There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.' By this declaration, the person announces faith in all of God’s messengers.'


This is something best done in Arabic, something like the following (which I have already done in daily prayer...I need to work my way up to 5x ):

Ash hadu al laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah,
wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh
Allaahumma salli `alaa Muhammadin wa Aali Muhammad

Bear witness that there is no god apart from Allah,
Who is unique and without partners.
I also bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Prophet.
O God, bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad.

so I've read, but I think the most important part is your intention, your heart, and your full submission and devotion to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala).

My choice is to convert to Islam and wear hijab. Many call it reversion because:

'Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God. According to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, some people see conversion to Islam as a 'return' back to this original, pure faith.'


Use whichever term you wish; I honestly don't know which is better. I only know that I've been led here, and that I need to do this. I hope you support me in this decision. I cannot continue to feel sorry myself because Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) would not give me something I could not handle. His blessings are infinite, He is kind, and with boundless mercy. By following His guidance through the teachings of His Prophet, Muhammad, (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) I will come out stronger. As long as I have faith and continue to be my best person, everything will be okay."

So what is all this about? Why Islam? It has to be more than about the modesty. Don't worry, this isn't a fashion statement. (Fashion will always be fun to me, though, and I will not stop enjoying it.) This isn't a hashtag or a social media stunt. I am aware what some people think of me, but I can't worry about it.

This is the first picture that I posted on my Facebook of me in my hijab, wearing my first new jersey hijab with gold sparkles and pink "ninja" underscarf from UniqueHijab.com. They have a very large selection, low prices, and I love everything in my order!

This is about my relationship with the Divine, and Islam is how I feel most connected. I finally have a community now as well, and interestingly enough, with a blend of cultures, none of which match the two of my blood, I feel like I fit in. (There is a consensus from my new friends before they knew my ethnicity that I look Lebanese or Syrian.) I see people who look like me, and I am welcomed by all I have encountered thus far. 

I pray, and I feel love. I feel hurt. I feel everything. I let go. I surrender. When I am done praying, I am calm. It is truly magical. I used to scoff at people who would talk like this, but honestly for a little while, my anxiety goes away. When I speak to sisters and brothers and we can connect on a level that I cannot with others, I feel a joy that is indescribable. I have to hold back tears. 

I went to a social event this Friday evening at a local Muslim community center, and already, I feel like I have yet another family. They remind me of my family back home. Walking in the door, I was greeted with many smiles and "Assalamu Alaikum" or sometimes a simple "Salaam" by the passing sisters and brothers who met my eyes. Immediately after entering the main event hall and wandering towards the food area to set down the pastries we brought from the bakery, (they were devoured in seconds,) a gentleman spotted us, pulled a plate of sweets out of a bag, offered us some, and asked if we wanted to meet some good people. We gladly accepted.

This is everything I received from UniqueHijabs.com! Hijabis, I like them! Have you ordered from here before?

He led us outside, and along the way, he chatted jovially with several of his friends. It was clear that he was well-liked, and that here, most people mingle. There are many different areas inside including a workout room, prayer halls (mosques), rooms for children, classrooms, a bookstore that sells all sorts of Islamic goods, a community board with a plethora of events, an outside area with plenty of benches plus playground equipment for the children, (or adults who like to have extra fun!) and more!

Upon arrival, I felt right at home, as if in my parents' or Aunt and Uncle's kitchen. If you were sitting at the table, you were getting a plate of food, and it was delicious. There were not one, but two kinds of soup, and the most delicious tea, rice, a type of meatball, an amazing hot sauce, fresh watermelon, candy...that's just what I can remember. I tried a little bit of everything, I think, and it was amazing. 

The best part was the company. We learned about each others' lives, talked about things that mattered. I missed that. I have missed feeling connected to people. It was so refreshing to see people not holding back as much and just being family. I felt more accepted there in the first hour than I have in over six years participating in the Lolita community attending meet-ups.

The only thing I was hesitant to reveal to them is the nature of my relationship with Brie. We had been telling them we were just friends because it is very looked down upon to be LGBTQIA+ in Islam. Daughters and sons are disowned. Even in this young woman's case where her father accepted her, the rest of her family disowned her. However, the fact that organizations such as Muslims for Progressive Values exists, gives me hope. It has a comprehensive LGBTQI section here.

I could not continue to tell them we are "friends," however; that is outright lying and completely goes against my nature. It felt so wrong to be doing this. I can't keep living a lie. It's the first time in my life I've ever hidden myself since I've come out. After some solid advice from a friend and self-reflection, I began contacting the people I met. It was nerve-wracking, but I am happy to say the responses so far have been positive. All I need to to is have faith, and Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) will guide the way.

There was a special sign, even, when we first entered the building. A sister began conversation with us, explaining she was new to this particular community. She was so full of light and love. Eventually, she asked how we were related. (Many people think she is my mother or aunt...we got sister once yesterday!) My heart sunk a little when I answered the way I had been. She said nonchalantly but in this wise, matter-of-fact sort of way, "You should become one." I guess we are bad at disguising it. ;)

From now on, I'll take it interaction by interaction and see how it goes. I'll tread carefully. I realize the world is not ideal, and to survive I might have to be silent. However, perhaps as I meet people I trust, I can confide in them just as I did to my friends, and that will feel good to my heart.

Yesterday was also wonderful! Subhanallah! Brie and I had a peaceful day. We took our time getting ready, went to a music store, and went out to eat. It was a real treat because we aren't able to go out to eat as much anymore, so it's even more special when we can. There was just a sparkle in the air I couldn't explain that I'm still riding which is strange because I should be neck deep in grief.

Babby's first snow ice!I loved this place so much!
Posted by ElleJay Volpe on Saturday, July 25, 2015

I had briefly had an idea this morning to use these little sponges I had to make tiny buns in my hair to make buns in my hijab, and it worked out very well! Now I can live out that mahou shoujo life in a whole new way with a much deeper meaning. This path, I couldn't think of a better way to carry out Frill-Ability's goals as well as my own personal and spiritual goals. I'll be the Odango Hijabi, working hard for love and justice, and praying for closeness to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.) 

Let me stress one more time: getting donned in frills, rolling myself around in sparkles on pastels, and shoving tiny sponges in my hijab, while fun, is not the point. Doing good by others and myself is. I must be the change I wish to see in the world.

Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) has given me the power to:

-Enact positive change in the communities that are important to me. 
-Not give up until I've exhausted every possible option. 
-Create a more sustainable planet in any way I can, even if it's just in my home. 
-Hold myself accountable for my actions. 
-Learn how to be a better spender. (maybe one day actually save) 
-Learn how to be a better listener and friend. 
-Be as independent as possible, or reducing my dependence where I can. 
-Want less and love what I have before I decide to consume
-Be mindful and self-reflective 
-Step outside of my own perspective to experience things with another's senses
-Enjoy my talents and passions while sharing them with others
-Be kind and compassionate to myself and others
-Love unconditionally
-Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray

While I am now wearing a hijab, I hope this very long story lifted the veil of confusion if there was one lingering. If you still have questions, I am nearly out of words. All I have left in this moment is Peace Be Upon You, my friends. Whether or not you have faith, I hope your journey is full of love and light. 

24 October 2013

Curious and Curiouser

I take myself very seriously.

Every once in the while, I give into temptation and Google myself. As a moderator of a community, I had to help manage an unfortunate situation recently which involved me wading through a lot of gossip, and hilariously enough, I came upon a bunch of things about myself. There seems to be someone or multiple people  out there really wanting to know about my personal life. Given how not-secret I am about what's happening with me, I find it crazy that if an individual is that curious they wouldn't ask me. Seeing the things that were floating around, however, made me wonder even more what else people had to say.

This is almost always a mistake, but I can handle it much better now than I could years ago. Despite reading things that are potentially hurtful, I would much rather know than not. I never want to walk into a room of a group of my peers and get that feeling someone is aware of something about me that I am not. I don't want to be shielded from anything; I want to feel strong and in control, knowing I can deal with whatever comes at me with grace and poise. At the same time, I understand the viewpoint of a lot of other Lolitas who would rather not be informed if something were to be said about them. Both are valid choices.

This is what I learned:

1. Some people don't like my outfits. Yes, I know, I make questionable choices and wear some weird shit sometimes. I get discouraged a little about dressing up now and again, but I care less and less about it, or at least I try to. I dress the way I do, and I have fun. There are those who think what I'm wearing is cute and those who take the pictures I post to tear them apart on other websites. Oh well, can't please everyone.

2. There seems to be some confusion about my work history. Let me break it down. I graduated from my university in 2010 with a Bachelor's in Natural Science with minors in Chemistry and Mathematics. After that, I began a graduate program in Library Information Sciences, but sadly, due to health issues, I had to postpone.

During that time, I worked at a library and stayed there for about two years and quit because believe it or not, the job was fairly physical, and y'all know with my jacked up leg, I can't stand for very long. After my ex and I separated, (*gasp* so controversial!!!1111one) I worked as an educator at the Adler Planetarium. I quit that job in January of 2013 when I left Chicago to move to the Bay Area where I worked for Harajuku Hearts / Angelic Pretty USA. Yes, actually employed there with a paycheck.

I left AP/HH in June of this year because I moved fairly far out from the city, and the commute was awful. I was also hoping to find something full-time, which I did. I became a banker, but due to a number of circumstances surrounding my health, I am on "medical leave." If you are super interested in that mess, look through my Facebook.

 I like to call my current situation "(f)unemployment." (The term is stolen from a friend.) While figuring things out/taking care of business, you best believe I am playing a crap-ton of Pokemon and watching every TV show I want to on Hulu Plus. Things could be worse.

3. My love life is apparently fascinating. Scratch that, my love life is definitely fascinating. I look back at the past year and a half of my life, and I can't believe it either. Seeing people either completely make things up about it or post things late by over a year is very funny. SPOILER ALERT: I never had an affair with my best friend in Chicago. If there's anything else you'd like to know, you can ask me here.

It's still weird to me that another person could be that interested in knowing these things. Another reason why I am as open as I am because I want to show people there's no shame in going through a rough time, having medical conditions, making mistakes, looking like crap now and again, searching for love, having a wild time, or a million other things I could list. I'll gladly own my life and share it with you, and as I do, you can watch me grow as well. I am so proud of how far I've made it and my work to continue to become more healthy. There are many days I seriously doubt myself, but I know I have to keep going, and in this struggle, I'll continue to wear a frill or two.

Are there things you fear sharing with others? Do you ever Google yourself? What do you find? How do you handle hearing gossip people spread about you? Tell me in the comments!