“Sorry, I’ve just been so busy lately…”

This line.

Why do we use this line?

Let me tell you a story and also give you a warning; if you use this line on people and believe it to be true, you won’t like this post.

I knew of two friends once, they were close. Not living in each others’ pockets close. Nevertheless, they were close. They happened to be neighbours, went to the same schools until high school level- eventually going their seperate academic paths. I noticed them grow apart somewhat when they hit university age. Recently I learnt that one of the friends is trying to rekindle the friendship on the grounds they had been busy but now really want to build bridges, but the other party is reluctant to mend said bridges. I asked them why they were not interested in putting the past behind them and their reply resonated with me to this day; “no one’s busy for six years, tam.”

The reason it stayed with me is because I am and have always been the idiot who gets screwed over with; “sorry tam, I have been so busy lately, you don’t even understand, I haven’t had time to scratch my head today, I’m not even sure I ate lunch can you believe that?”

I used to be so forgiving and understanding of these excuses, “No hey, I get it. Take your time. No rush, we can catch up some other time. Make sure you eat, make sure you sleep, make sure you breathe.” I’m pretty sure I reminded someone to shower once.

When I hit 30 (yes, children that’s how old I am), I was asked time and time again, “how does it feel?” And I’d answer honestly, “my knees hurt, but it pretty much feels the same.” But actually, I have noticed some differences. I can’t speak for all the folk who recently hit 30, this just applies to me, lest a fellow 30 year old bites my head off for passing off inaccurate facts.

The differences are; you start to give a crap about your health some. My doctor said to me, “I’ve seen you more in the last 3 months than I have seen you in the last 6 years.” I’m not a hypochondriac, the last place I want to be is at the doctors, but I happen to have some medical issues I need to take care of and 30 has scared me into sorting them out. Your body starts to work backwards when you hit 30, like it has to do overtime just to keep up.

Mull those words over before you dismiss my statement as dramatic. Why do you think some women struggle to have kids after 30? Or people struggle to lose weight post 30? Or your knees and joints start ricketting to remind you of their presence post 30?

Disclaimer: I know that shit can happen at 20 and 60 too.

I digress.

I read once that nobody is that busy and it’s just about priorities. If you make it on someone’s priority list; then you are important enough to them to interrupt their day for.

I have made so many excuses for people who told me they were too busy to keep in touch. But one of the other things 30 does to you is give you the biggest reality check and I truly believe the above statement to be the absolute honest truth now.

I have always to the best of my knowledge made time for the people I deemed important in my life.

I know I have stayed up to converse with people who live in a different time zone from me when it was a reasonable hour for them but a God forsaken hour for me. And I am talking daft o’clock, people not something cute like midnight. Not because anyone asked me to but because I valued that person and their conversation and would not have had the time to speak to them otherwise so I made them a priority.

I’ve always tried to take 30 seconds of my busy ass day– where I have taught for 7 hours, sat in a sinfully boring meeting for another 2, tutored for an even further 2; was stuck in traffic for 30 minutes, went home to a billion and one things to do- to make someone smile. For instance, I wished someone a happy birthday recently who happened to be my best friend literally twenty years ago. Let that sink in. Some of you weren’t even born then. She wasn’t just touched, she was pure shocked I remembered without the aid of social media.

I have always tried to reply to all the personal messages I get, if not straight away then the next day at the latest. I make this distinction because tags, memes, links, videos, forwards, duaa photo cards, repeated requests for money, images of frogs on lily pads saying good morning and owls on trees saying good night are not things that always warrant a response in my opinion.

I am not saying these things to toot my own horn and I apologise profusely that that is indeed how all this is coming across. But I can’t help but notice that over the years, very little has stopped me making time for the people I cherished and respected.

I was drowning in deadlines at university and still made the time for a prick who begged me to write his final Year essay on Architecture which I know squat about. But I did it with the help of google and his sorry ass next to me explaining architectural key terms that I didn’t get. I did it because he was a good friend, because his mother pleaded with me and mostly because I am a caring idiot.

Plot twist: by the time his results for the paper came out (a high pass by the way!) he became uber stupid religious and replied to my message of “how did it go?” with “could you refrain from contacting me in future? You are not my wife and men and women aren’t supposed to talk.”

Death and depression (the not getting out of bed for being emotionally paralysed kind of depression) are the only things that have stopped me responding to or initiating contact with people in recent times. For I too used to use the “I have been busy” line.

I’m not perfect. When I clock that I am starting to neglect loved ones, when I get lazy about it, I wake myself up, hit the refresh button and try again. And of course there are exceptions to every rule like outgrowing relationships and drifting apart and that’s life…

To conclude, I have reached a place in life where if I make time for someone and they don’t feel the need to reciprocate because “I’m busy – she will still be there when I eventually get the time to reply to her message… 16 days later – she will understand,” I ain’t playing no more.

I’m sorry. I don’t care if you were saving cats from burning buildings, if you nipped down to a war stricken country to personally deliver aid or if you were discovering how to rid the ocean of plastic. It’s not difficult to sign in now and then, and its even easier to say, “you know what? I’ve just read this and Ima get back to you after I finish my shift / building this orphanage.”

The list of people who prioritise me in their life has been a sad but real eye opener. I discovered a lump on my… person recently that I needed to get checked out because prevention is better than cure and all that. I discovered it at like 2am and I blew the whole thing out of proportion, convinced myself it was cancerous etc.

The only person I wanted to tell about this ignored my timid; hey listen I’m worried about something. And then replied a hundred years later with been busy and you know what I am worried about? this, this, this, and that. I thought to myself been busy? Yet they still had time to be active on social media?

I was crushed.

…do not try to “out-busy” people as a defense to your lack of care, we all have the same twenty four hours in a day.

Peace out x

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Tantrum Tuesday

…because we all love a whiner.

No? Really? You don’t? I mean you must love me a little else why are you still readi… you get the point. Let’s go.

-There are certain things in life you should never to say to people. And by people, I mean me. Here goes. Sharpen your pencils: call me, where are you? can I ask you a question? we need to talk, are you free?

-If you want me to reply to you, always text. Never call. I stare at the phone ringing until it goes dead then just text you one word: sup? It’s not because I am rude but talking on the phone freaks me out. I legit don’t know how to do it #awkward. So if we have talked on the phone, know you are special. I answered your call. Get very gassed please. I joke.

-I have discovered the key to Audio books which I was not keen on before. The secret is this: if the audio book is an autobiography narrated by the author themselves then its easy to stay engaged with it. Self-help books are okay to listen to too. Fiction would be hard as an Audio book for me though.

-Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime is comedy gold. I think my next audio book will be The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Might have to be on pay day though, coz audio books are hella pricey.

-Speaking of books. I also wanna pick up one of those. A physical one. The last one I read was… *tries to remember* The Forty Rules of Love. All in all, an okay (at times frustrating) read. I did like how all the chapters started with B. though. That was kindda neat.

-A senior at work, and I mean really high up, spoke down to me a lot today. They accused me of not handling a situation well enough. This would have normally petrified me. Sometimes though you reach a space in life where you literally have 0 … shall we say cares? left to give because you know you handled the situation the best way you knew how under the (crappy) circumstances so you’re like; *sings* can’t touch this. Which is not true because technically, they can touch this by sacking me. But Allah’s with me innit.

-Things in my day deterriorated a lot after work. I was so stressed and spaced out that I stopped at a green light thinking it was red and the line of cars behind me that had to brake harshly as a result of my stopping? Lets just say they had LOUD and colourful ways of letting their feelings towards me be known. I came home and decided to make tea to calm me down but I managed to break a spice jar and despite remaining calm allllll day when all that shit was kicking off, it took breaking a stupid jar and seeing shards of glass everywhere to make me cry. The mind boggles wallah

-Update on the seller who didn’t deliver my work after a 3/4 month wait; they ignored my last message (which they opened and read 10 days after I sent it) in reply to the snappy one they sent me, unfollowed me on social media, and are just full on pretending I don’t exist now. Excellent customer service *slow, sarcastic clap* because star plus.

-We have some saying in Arabic for people who wrong you then pretend its the other way around. Let me treat your ears to a few; they kill the deceased then walk in his funeral march and they hit me and cried then ran to tell on me first.

Wa shukran. That is to say; thank you (for reading incase that wasn’t implicit) …

Peace out x

Remember when I did these ya’ll?

They used to be like cardio sessions for my brain. So this is more for me than you. I can’t sleep and my knees are killing me. You may skip this one if you like. Or you know, stay for a laugh.

  1. Where did you grow up? Somewhere over a black and white rainbow way down low.
  2. What is the earliest memory you have? I was six and my mum bit my hand because I wouldn’t let go of my cousin’s hair lol!
  3. What would you do with the money if you won the lottery? Quit my job.
  4. What could you have done to make today more productive? Not gone back to sleep after my alarm went off.
  5. Something you still can’t believe is happening? My grey hair. Wow.
  6. Do you need to be ‘tucked into sleep’ or can you fall asleep anyhow? I need my pillow and fan (even in winter) and I’m sorted.
  7. If you had to wear one item forever what would it be? Jeans.
  8. If you had to Kiss, Marry and Kill YouTubers, who would you choose? I’d kill all the ones getting publishing deals just for being famous #bitter. As for the good stuff- Will Smith is a YouTuber now right? 😉
  9. What is a question you want to answer but nobody asks? Can I get you a drink?
  10. Which cartoons do you still watch today? Tom and Jerry.
  11. What do you watch that isn’t targeted for your age group? A lot of shit on YouTube.
  12. Phobias? Ninja turtles, driving on unfamiliar roads and rejection.
  13. What song do you like to sing nowadays? Naked – Ella Mai.
  14. If you could have one talent what would it be? Staying calm in a crisis.
  15. Would you rather the world remain peaceful forever or no one on earth ever goes hungry? The latter. As much as I love me some peace, no one deserves to starve.
  16. What is a weird food combination that you do? Daal and ketchup. I’m not even sorry.
  17. Would you rather eat or drink your calories? Munch.
  18. 5 things that make your average day better? Food. Conversation. Doing as little as possible. Writing. A hot drink.
  19. Would you rather someone go through your phone (text messages and all) or go through your internet history? Neither!
  20. What are 3 things you would do if you were stranded in a rainforest to ensure your survival? Pray, look for food then look for more food.
  21. If only you and one other person were the last human beings alive, who would, you want the other person to be? Someone funny and patient coz they’re now stuck with me.
  22. If you had to choose never to use Twitter, Instagram or YouTube again, which one would you let go? Twitter.
  23. If you had to choose, how would you want to get famous? Writing / photography.
  24. Which Languages do you speak? English, Arabic.
  25. Which languages do you wish you could speak? I mean I wanna finish learning Turkish and hindi first.
  26. Thoughts on interracial marriage? Great if you can stick together when the world tries to shake you down. Because it will try to shake you down.
  27. Weird things you like about the opposite sex? Good at driving. Good at maths. I know. Weird af.
  28. If you could choose, which time would you go back to? The 90s, for those of us who lived them not born in them, were bomb dot com.
  29. Have you ever said I love you first? Yep.
  30. Was it reciprocated? Nope.
  31. Regrets? Not many. I wish I’d not opened the door of my life to some people. They made a mess and left and I suck at cleaning up.
  32. What is your usual bedtime? Late, 11 ish.
  33. What do you remember doing on the worst day you’ve ever had? I went into shock and had a cold shower fully clothed.
  34. What is an irrational fear you had as a child? Getting lost. Losing my way. Even with GPS today, this fear still gets me.
  35. Have you ever conquered a fear of yours? Fear of cats.
  36. What is something silly you believed as a child? That I was adopted.
  37. What did you want to be when you were a kid? An air hostess.
  38. If the kid version of you were to meet you now, how would they react? She would wonder why I am the same in many ways.
  39. Last fight? Was with the Tesco guy. He may have insinuated I stole something so I may have had him reported to the manager.
  40. Which teacher left the most impact on your life? He was hilarious and excellent at his job… until he got the sack that is #awkward.
  41. What was the most significant event of your life? When I finished writing my book.
  42. Would you say you have more of an English brain than a math brain? Yes. Idek what math is.
  43. Will you want to be remembered after you die? A little. But I know that I will eventually be forgotten. Life.
  44. What was the last movie you watched? A simple favour.
  45. What was the last movie that made you cry? I wanna say Pad man? Also This is Us always gets me.
  46. Have you ever been so happy that you cried? Yes, two days ago when I got a publishing contract that I thought was legit. What a waste of salty water…sigh.
  47. Have you ever won anything, if so, what? Erm, a photography award lol not from like a proper establishment or anything but he looks like an Oscar so its cool.
  48. If you had to get married to the last friend you texted, how would it go? Terribly!
  49. Would you ever go on a blind date? I would struggle with this to be honest. Arranged marriages are basically blind dates and that’s why I can’t go through with one yet.
  50. Do you mind getting famous even if it’s from bad publicity? I do mind. Most publicity is bad publicity.

Vanity Publishing

As you all know by now and are possibly tired of hearing (tough, I don’t charge you rent to be here), I have been trying to publish my book for around two years. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of publishing a book in the UK, you’re a lucky son of a gun who spared themselves a headache. For the sake of this post however, you will need to know the nitty gritty of it all so get your paracetamol tablets at the ready.

There are 3 main methods of publishing in England:

1. Traditional Route – You find a literary agent whom you send a sample of 3 chapters from your book. If they like the sample they ask to see the rest, if they are still impressed they start to pitch the work to publishers on your behalf and the ball starts rolling from there at no financial cost to you. Naturally if they hate the sample they find a variety of politically correct rejections to throw your way.

Why don’t you go straight to the publisher? Why the middle man? I hear you ask. Because they don’t want to hear from you. Simple. You have to go to them through an agent-1 that’s the rule with 99% of publishers. Believe me, I’ve looked.

2. Self Publishing – You choose a company or an online platform to publish the book, for example Kindle ebooks. This can be at no financial cost to you too unless of course you choose to pay money for editing, a professional looking book cover design, advertising, etc. etc.

3. Vanity Publishing – Essentially, a publishing house that pries on poor souls who are so desperate to see their books in print that they are literally willing to pay any amount to see that happen. The future of the book is uncertain because as soon as the publisher pockets your buck, they start to find reasons to either a) get more money out of you or b) get rid of you so that they can move on to the next victim paying no more attention to your book. I have researched vanity publshing extensively and have found no one to say they have found success via this method which is essentially bribery in fancy dress if we’re being honest.

When I started this painful process, I tried to publish via route one which was a MAJOR flop given how crowded the writing industry is in England, in 2014 for instance the UK published 20 new books every hour. Then, on some premature advice I decided to skip to route two which can work great for people who are well known and have a massive social media following (Rupi Kaur) but no one knows my sorry ass so this route flopped for me too. I could not market the book at all as no one knew who the hell I was.

Ah being invisible everywhere, the bane of my existance.

I took the book down from Amazon and decided to try route one again which someone told me was basically book suicide. I had exposed the book and so now no one would want it anymore. The book had apparently “lost its virginity.” I decided to go ahead anyway as route three wasn’t even an option I wanted to consider. Traditional publishing isn’t supposed to cost money in this country and I don’t have money anyway. But also, Fifty Shades of Grey started out as a fanfiction of Twilight which the author posted on her blog before eventually scoring a publishing deal. I know that filth sells quicker than fish and chips in this country which helped that particular author big time, but my point is, exposing the book 1st isn’t always a bad thing.

Anyway. This morning I recieved a publishing contract via post from one of the countless companies I sent the book to. Initially I was elated, I was holding a friggin’ contract after two long ass years of torture. It looked so legit – so legit that I was lost in the moment. Forgetting in the process that when something is too good to be true, it almost always is.

The too good to be true part being of course that they were asking me for up to £4000 to publish the book.

Also, this particular company, I noticed, was a publshing house and not a literary agency. I racked my brain and quickly remembered that when I stumbled across their website a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see that they a) accept authors with no agent representation and b) ask to see the whole book as opposed to a sample of three chapters. The fact that their requirements did not match 99% of other publishing houses should have raised alarm bells in my head there and then but naïve ole me saw this as a refreshingly different move on their part. I told myself they were a dignified establishment who gave chances to struggling authors.

Yeah, no, five hours of research later I uncovered a mountain of awful reviews for this publishing house. Here is an excerpt, just to give you a bit of flavour;

If you want to pay hefty sums to get your work published, this is the place to come. The agency doesn’t decline any submissions, however bad they may be; as long as you can come up with the money they will print books of highly questionable quality.

My thirty seconds of sheer happiness evaporated into nothing real quick and I was left completely and utterly numb. It felt like I got so close and yet I was no where near my ultimate goal. I am still staring at the contract thinking just sign the bugger and fork out some money but, with a heavy heart I shot them the following reply;

Dear Publisher,

I hope my email finds you well. I write it in reference to the publishing contract I recieved from you via post this morning which I would like to thank you for.

It is with a heavy heart that I am unable to accept your offer of a “contribution based contract.” This is because, I haven’t got a penny to my name, monthly instalments or otherwise. Naturally, this is not a line I ever envisioned writing in a professional email but I feel like I have nothing to lose in being honest at this point.

Whilst you see me as a “risk” to your publishing house for having previously published the book (on kindle ebooks for no more than 6 months and on a blog with less than 300 followers at the time) I see being £2,300 – £4000 in debt as a risk to my entire life and mental well- being.

I had hoped you could see past the “previously published” detail because there are some books on the shelves today that started out exactly like mine and have gone on to becoming extremely successful but I cannot fault you for doing what you deem best for your company.

I am forced to accept that the literary world now exclusively belongs to celebrities and YouTubers.

Thank you again for your interest.

F.

Sunday round up 1

Warning: if you and I have dm’d this week, I suggest ya’ll skip this one, it’s gonna sound repetetive, sorry not sorry.

More warnings: I moan in this one, a lot, don’t complain. I don’t charge you rent to be here so you don’t have to approve of the decor innit.

-It’s finally that time of the year where the phrase “baby it’s cold outside” is more than just a phrase and I am psyched. Cold weather zindabaad ya’ll. Yes, I have reached an age where it hurts my bones but minor.

-I’ve worked in education for almost 10 years now. And ironically, the only things I am proud of teaching have nothing to do with academia. I taught a little boy to tie his laces and thats something he will take way into his adult life and I taught a kid who talked with his fist (he hit EVERYBODY) that being the bigger person and walking away from violence will always be answer and though he has moved on to other schools and continues to be a brat, I’m told he has stopped hitting people. And 2 moments in 10 years is not a big achievement but its things like this that make me like my job. Not the marking or teaching fractions. Whats fractions gonna teach anybody?

-We, myself included, are a nation obsessed with our devices. I know three people that day dream into their phones while I am having a conversation with them ergo, in revenge if I now tell a story and they get distracted on their phone, I stop telling it because I am no longer prepared to waste vocal chord action unnecessarily. Before you tell me I am being petty, they don’t even notice I’ve stopped talking. Admittedly this could be because they find my company dull… but, you know what, nah that can’t be it. I have nuff personalities to keep anybody entertained.

-I am pissed off with service providers this week. Royal Mail is getting on my last nerve. Their customer service line is cleverly handled by an automated service. Press 1 if you have a problem. Press 2 if your parcel is missing. Press 3 if you now want to kill yourself because Royal Mail evidently can’t afford to put humans on the phone and instead have placed robots to infuriate you to death.

-You know when you buy something from someone on the promise that they deliver it to you within 3 weeks but then they don’t because of all of the following; illness, personal holidays, too busy, other exciting projects, more personal holidays and the muggins that is you is EXTREMELY understanding of being treated like a doormat despite being a paying customer? That.

Then when said service provider offers the item for free to make up for making you wait for it for ages and you watch them document on social media all these other items they are working on and you notice that your item has now been put at the bottom of the priorities list because its being offered for free (against your wishes) and therefore this means its possibly gonna take even longer now to reach you? That.

THEN, when its 3 months and 3 weeks later and you’re told that your item will finally be posted to you on Monday and come Saturday you dont recieve it so you decide to contact the seller and remind them that you have now been waiting 4 months and they turn around and bark at you that they have have had distressing family circumstances like you are psychich and you’re supposed to know not to annoy them at this difficult time? That.

-If you are someone who provides serivces and sells stuff, here’s some free advice; be a man of your word, if you say I will deliver next month, do it. If you sense a delay announce it and warn the person. If you promise something for free to make up for an error on your part, don’t belittle the person you wronged further by making them feel like a beg when they then ask for what they’re owed. Giving it for free was your decision not theirs. Its not charity. Its theirs. Fullstop. If pressing circumstances come up leave a vague message if needs be but do leave one; can’t talk now but due to an unfortunate and unexpected incident I will now not be able to deliver on time. Because I’m sorry, but if you have time to be liking photos on instagram during a family crisis, then you have time to contact your customers. And finally, losing one customer might seem like a minor loss to you when your business is doing so well mashallah, but it can all get taken from you in a matter of weeks if that customer decides to name and shame you for the way you treat people you deem not important enough to keep your word to.

Treat people with respect.

It’s my Anniversary. Apparently.

Five years on here. Seven hundred (ish) sleepy followers. Twenty that I actually banter with. Five that I am still actually in touch with. If you are one of them; we made it boo, lol.

It seems like such a long time ago I started blog you know. It was such a promising time for me. I thought it was gonna be huge. And for a while it felt like it was, for me anyway, but it died down real quick. I’ve tried sort of closing blog a couple of times but I always end up missing the writing process and you know, interacting with the 3 people that read my mad rambles.

At the moment, blog is still open for technical reasons to do with the book I wrote, if you know, you know. And I guess as soon as those reasons work themselves out I can finally let go of this bugger. Hopefully permenantly this time. It will be hard and sad but I feel like I have outgrown this playground and new people have come out to play that I need to vacate the yard for. There just isn’t room for everyone to play anymore. Definitely a case of too many cooks going on here.

Anyway. If you read my last post then this is a part two-er of that one I suppose. Long story short, I’m a teacher, I hate teaching maths, but love teaching life.

The second lesson isn’t any easier

So, after the poetry lesson I taught the other day, I was placed in a class where the children were looking petrified as they were split up from last year’s friendship groups and put in a class with brand new people so no one knew anyone. So, I figured a game was in order to break the ice.

We decided to play that game “If I were this and that,” for example If I was a number I would be 8. We had a hat full of random topics and in no time we were all laughing at everyone’s choices and the ice was long melted and forgotten about. Oh and I may have forgotten all about the maths I was supposed to teach… oh well.

Here are some of my faves:

“If I was a boy, I would pee standing up just to see what it’s like.” – Love that this little girl voiced out what we are all thinking. She took one for the team.

“If I was a song I’d be humpty dumpty sat on a wall.” – Why though?

“If I were a poem I’d be roses are red, violets are blue, poems are stupid and so are you!” – Not a fan of poetry this one clearly, lol.

“If I was an emotion I would be that feeling when you stick your head out of the open window of a fast moving car.” – Remember that feeling ya’ll?

“If I was a colour I would be colourless.” I think this kid was trying to be awkward lol.

“If I was a month I’d be July August because no school init.” – Agreed.

They wanted me to play the game too but I feared my answers would not be PC. So I refrained but…

-If I was a clour, right now, I would probably be grey.

-If I was a month, I’d probably be October. I have a soft spot for December but October is Autumn, cool crisp mornings, hot chocolate, cozy socks and messy hair and oversized clothes and Hallmark movies infront of the fire whilst watching the burnt orange leaves dance their way onto the ground out the window. October is the one.

-If I was an emotion I’d be that feeling when you finally hit the sack at the end of a long ass day and tuck yourself in and stretch into a comfortable position and let your eyes drift shut and take a deep ass breath of complete and utter relaxation.

-If I were a poem I would probably be a rupi kaur one for sure;

-If I was a song I would probably be Naked by Ella Mai. Lyrical genius.

-If I was a boy, man. I would literally get away with murder.

But naturally, the bunch of 10 year olds I was teaching don’t need to know any of the above.