Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Conference, cat, tree, death, taqwa

The trip to Los Angeles

I flew out with a fellow teacher on June 30. Our hotel was called the Westin Century Plaza. One of the nights we were there there was a 1.2 million dollar pseudo-Jewish wedding. I'd never seen so many ultra-expensive cars (Rolls Royce, Astin Martin et al) or expensive dresses in my life. I noticed that all the women in that part of L.A. wear heels - stilletto heels. Even to work, even if that work involves walking and standing all day. Stupid and crazy if you ask me. The shoe stores having nothing in stock for women but heels except maybe a few flip flops - most of those also have heels.

Beautiful flowering trees and bushes and fruit trees everywhere. Wonderful cool breeze because we were close to the ocean. Ridiculous grafitti, trash, pollution and traffic. Couldn't stand living there. Didn't see very many muslims. We were near a Jewish neighborhood that used Arabic script for their signs rather than Hebrew - interesting....

Went to the La Brea Tar Pits (worth going once), the J Paul Geddy Museum (art - if you don't like art, they have a beautiful garden - all for free), and Venice Beach (skip it unless you want to worry about possibly stepping on a drug needle in the sand, etc.). Spent most days two hours in a state Caucus in the morning followed by the rest of the day at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the assembly enjoying the antics of Parliamentary Procedure and voting on business. Got lots of free stuff from vendors to use Geocaching. Did one geocaching with fellow CSEA board member named Mark - walked from the convention center to downtown and found one out of two we looked for. The GPS was useless downtown - the signal bounced off the tall buildings and couldn't get more than about 60 foot accuracy and kept spinning.

The meetings were good over all. Ate at lots of expensive places with the voucher money. My return flight had some problems and got home just before fajr time Friday. Glad to be home! I didn't take many pictures but Irma, our President, did. I asked her to send them to me and if she does maybe at some point in the future I'll upload some here. My flight back was the day of the stupid evil terrorist attacks in London. That stuff really gets my ire because they hurt Muslims and non-Muslims alike - those people attacked, those people facing retaliation and restrictions because of the attacks, etc.,, they hurt innocent people, they hurt people just going about their lives, and they don't accomplish anything productive! My flight did not seem to be much affected. However, I avoided praying in the airport because I saw several signs asking people to look at everyone around them and report any "suspicious behavior" immediately.

While I was away, mom was coming to the house to put down cat food. On Saturday she tried to play with him and got bit. She got bit once before by one of her cats and her hand swelled a bit. Well, this time it got really swollen and painful. So Sunday it was so bad she went to the hospital thinking she'd get a shot but they made her stay in the hospital over night and take antibiotics through an IV. She didn't get to go home until late Monday and missed the annual family Fourth of July picnic. She said the doctor told her that cat bites and scratches are really serious and someone can even lose their hand from a bite if it isn't treated soon enough. I've grown up with all kinds of pets including cats and so has my mom but that was news to both of us. So think carefully about getting pets. Leo adopted me and now depends on me. But otherwise I don't think I'd get a cat now. So I felt badly about that- they didn't tell me about it until after I got home, though. About a month ago I got a good scratch from the cat. It was pretty sore. A few days later I came down with flu-like symptoms that lasted nearly two weeks. It was a long time, long enough that I was starting to think of going to the doctor because it didn't seem to be a normal kind of thing. I didn't put the two together at the time, but now I am suspecting that the scratch and illness were related.

Yesterday I was woken up by a call from my brother so he could come over and work on his master's paper with my computer and he brought his kids. They were here all day. The two youngest kids were outside playing and we went to check and them and lo and behold these two itty bitty kids had climbed my white pine tree so high they were about fifty feet above the ground! Needless to say, my brother told them to get down immediately.

Today I went to teach madrassah. I found out that one of my friend's son was murdered last night - shot near his home in Denver. He was about 20 and had gotten into some gang related problems in the past few years. But it is sad. I feel for his mother and his brothers, etc., left behind. God sometimes takes people like that when they're young before they dig themselves too deep into trouble. He was a Muslim boy of Iranian descent. I hope maybe I can visit her later this week. Lots of people were going today. But, after my dad nearly dying, I know how overwhelming well-intentioned people can be. And then a few days later there is no one. So maybe my company would be more useful a bit later, insha'allah.

I've listened to several people talking lately about struggles with faith and religion. Disillusionment. It is very easy to get disillusioned if our religion is that of the people. That is, if our focus in religion becomes on things depending on people like fatwas, religious rulings, practice at the masjid, terrorism, spousal relations, etc. People get away from what made them "religious" in the first place - a love of God, a love of the holy people who brought us the truth, and relying wholly on God. This comes first before everything. It is the beginning, the middle and the end. There is no deen or religion without God. Without that, all you have is ritual and shell of religion now matter how many times you go to church or pray or go to mosque, etc. The deen is not about the practice - the practice is about the deen. And the deen is all about God-consciousness. Everyone must get back to that, try to find God-consciousness before anything else and the rest will follow. And the rest that doesn't follow won't matter. This is what I am learning in this life.

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