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Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To

I began to read at a very early age. Spurred on by spite (thanks, cousins who mocked me for being a baby who couldn’t read when I was a literal baby!), I became an incredibly strong reader by kindergarten, eagerly devouring the chapter books designated for the older kids. Beauty and the Beast was the first Disney movie I saw in a theater, and what a lovely coincidence it was that Belle and I shared the same primary hobby.

Part of why I was such a devout follower of Islam was that I fed my very literal young mind with extensive religious reading. After I’d exhausted the theological options available at my parents home (not to mention finishing the children’s dictionary a few times), the school library as well as the community one became my true home. After spending most of my childhood, adolescence, and college years reading extensively, that I was a bookworm was one of the few stable aspects of my identity. In a way, you could blame the books themselves for the majority of the tumult in terms of who I was (i.e. strong Muslim then progressive Muslim then secular deist then avowed atheist).

At some point in my early 20’s, I got caught up in the whirlwind that was social media and blogs and think-y journalistic outlets (Slate, Salon, and so on). I also began catching up the TV shows and movies that I’d missed as a super-bookish, overly-pious Muslim kid. I didn’t realize that I’d shifted so hard in the focus of my media consumption until it was too late. When I realized I hadn’t read a book in a while, I picked one up — an exciting and fun one, no less, one I’d been looking forward to reading for years — and tried to finish it. I found that I…. couldn’t?

It was as simple as that. I had lost the ability. And it was shocking. Continue reading “Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To”

Learning to Read Books Again: A How-To

What Eschewing Online Dating Says About You

It has always been fashionable to say that online interaction is inferior for any number of reasons and to urge those of us who prefer the Internet for whatever reason to “just go outside”. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of dating. Think-pieces upon think-pieces extol the virtues of meeting people in a more “real” setting than the virtual ones available in this year of their Lord 2016 (notice the distinct lack of studies upon studies).

Online dating gets blamed for hookup culture, disposability culture, sexism, standards dubbed “unrealistic”, the death of romance, and, bizarrely, the end of dating (all of which predate the Internet, which merely expose them out in the open). Declarations of being done with dating sites have become common. This all leaves my over-a-decade OkCupid veteran self at a loss. While I see nothing wrong with saying no to a tool that doesn’t work for you, to me, saying that you refuse to put up an online dating site often if not quite always means that there is something going on that doesn’t apply to those of us who find dating sites to be useful tools. Continue reading “What Eschewing Online Dating Says About You”

What Eschewing Online Dating Says About You

Bae Isn’t the Only Word That Means Poop

Like many other slang terms perceived as newfangled and originating in AAVE, “bae” inspires quite a bit of hatred for such a little word. The backlash against this latest of the many terms for a romantic partner includes think-pieces declaring the term dead as well as some cross-lingual snark in which a clever commentator points out that the word means “poop” in Danish.

Rather than grumble against this call for censorship, many people have embraced it. As they should! We should never accidentally say words that might mean something else if uttered in the context of another language.

As a person who speaks a smattering of other languages other than English, I realized that the poop problem doesn’t stop at “bae.” Lest we continue unwittingly using words that might mean something scatological, I have tapped into my multicultural and multilingual social media circles in search of such sets of syllables. I was shocked to find that conversations about such innocent topics as family members, the theater, domesticated animals, handbags, fruit, driving, seafood, and the weather are actually quite rude in other languages. Some people’s very names are at risk.

I’ve compiled this list to get you started in the process of flushing of your language free of such smears.

Continue reading “Bae Isn’t the Only Word That Means Poop”

Bae Isn’t the Only Word That Means Poop

Pareidolia: A GIF Story for Frivolous Friday

Warning: Some of the GIFs are flashy.

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care a lot about that may not necessarily have serious implications for politics or social justice. Although any day is a good day to write about our passions outside of social issues, we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun.

Let’s make faces together!

Continue reading “Pareidolia: A GIF Story for Frivolous Friday”

Pareidolia: A GIF Story for Frivolous Friday

Perspectives on Marriage, Re: The Arranged Kind

Content Notices: discussion of coerced marriages and child marriages; mild fatphobia in paragraph eight

While arranged marriages tend to either be wholly defended or reviled by those outside of cultures that currently engage in it, the way in which it is practiced varies quite bit. Arranged marriages don’t all work one way or follow one script. This ought to be unsurprising for a practice that ranges through many time periods, cultures, religions, sensibilities, and geographic regions.

A variety in terms of what arranged marriages can look like as well as their differing outcomes can be found within a just single person’s perspective and experience: mine. My family has been part of the Subcontinental Diaspora for multiple generations now, so I have relatives on every continent except for South America (and Antarctica, if you count that as a continent). Combine that with how the generation preceding mine consists of large families where the first child was born when the parents are teens and the last was born right before Mom hit menopause, and you get a family where, within just three generations, marriage practices vary greatly. Continue reading “Perspectives on Marriage, Re: The Arranged Kind”

Perspectives on Marriage, Re: The Arranged Kind

Search Term Round-Up #5: Polyamory & Kink

Content Notice for What It Says on the Tin. NSFW.

Inspired in no small part by the grand tradition of Captain Awkward, and written back in August 2015, when I was still at Freethought Blogs.

Other Round Ups:

Continue reading “Search Term Round-Up #5: Polyamory & Kink”

Search Term Round-Up #5: Polyamory & Kink

Taher Shah’s Lessons on Autism & Social Norms

Taher Shah had been the butt of the Pakistani and Indian internet’s jokes for his music videos ever since his 2013 release of Eye to Eye. When I first discovered and started showing people Eye to Eye, I will admit it was for reasons related to mockery. Observing people’s reactions to him after his Angel video, as well as a specific aspect of the discomfort of the allistic during Eye to Eye, have brought me around to completely un-ironically thinking he actually is a beautiful and special person with a lot to teach.

No, really! Continue reading “Taher Shah’s Lessons on Autism & Social Norms”

Taher Shah’s Lessons on Autism & Social Norms

Bad Poly’s Poster Child: A Navel-Gaze

This post partly grew out of a conversation with my friend Wesley Fenza, who writes at Living Within Reason. Wesley has a companion blog post with his more measured take on this issue.

Through the lens of mainstream media depictions of polyamory, I am the poster child for Bad Poly (and Bad Non-Monogamy, generally). Posturing for respectability is not for me and never will be, and I am not the least bit sorry.

Continue reading “Bad Poly’s Poster Child: A Navel-Gaze”

Bad Poly’s Poster Child: A Navel-Gaze