Day 27: Go ahead. Judge a book by its cover. #100daychallenge

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I paid my local Barnes & Noble a visit today in search of a good novel writing guide and snagged this baby up on my way to the back reference section. I had been browsing the new bestsellers pile for some [more] books I couldn't really afford and this one caught me a little off guard.

Without reading a review or even the back cover, I automatically assumed it was some dom/sub erotica. Also, those lashes? On first glance, this doesn't look like my kinda read.

But that NYT review perfectly placed at the top left of the front cover got to me. It's been a while since I've read a dramatic book decorated with page-turning plot-twists. So...I turned the book over.

I don't want to give much away...but that blurb on the back cover was enough to get me to hand over $16.

At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, nothing more.

Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but he is never far behind.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 26: The first summer you fell in love #100daychallenge

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Though we parted ways years ago, I still think of him come summertime each year. I'll remember his laugh, smile for a brief moment and go on with my day.

That summer was one of the best summers of my life. And that was in part due to my growing into who I would become for the rest of my life. But mostly, it was our friendship and conversation and how he made me feel. Important. Worth listening to. Lovely. I wasn't used to it.  

He was the first boy to value me in the way that I value myself today, but before I ever learned to. I remember for a few weeks, he didn't have a phone to text or call until he got back home after camp. But he'd write down all the things he wanted to talk about and discuss with me in this yellow notepad for our nightly chats, all of which ended with both of us fast asleep on the home phone and in big trouble the next morning.

When phone privileges were taken away, we'd sneak onto the computers after our parents fell asleep to chat online via AOL Instant Messenger. I remember laughing so hard one night and still managing to get in trouble.

He cared for my family in a way that I don't think anyone but my blood had cared for at that point in my life. He wanted to know about my parents, what made them so resilient and what I felt I learned from them. He asked about my younger brother, what makes him smile and what sets him off. 

In person, we clung to each other like velcro. We'd count the stars while laying in the grass, run through the courtyard and look into each other's eyes with sappy romance music playing in the background. Just like they did in the movies. It all felt so much like a movie. But movies always end.

I'd never felt that kind of loss before I lost him. It had to be love.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

50 books I'm reading in 2018: A growing list

I kicked off 2018 with a commitment to read 100 books as part of my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. But with a new writing challenge and dedicated podcasts, I’ve realized I’ll need to tone it down a bit. So: 50 books! Here's the beginning of my list, which I'll be updating every now and then. 

Books I've completed are in bold. You can see I'm a bit behind...

50 books I'm reading in 2018

  1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
  4. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 
  6. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  7. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
  8. Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed
  9. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  10. The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
  11. Sea Prayer by Khalid Hosseini
  12. through 100: TBA

Let me know if you have any suggestions! And feel free to add me on Goodreads.

Day 25: What you really wanted to say to the customer service rep when you called about your broken appliance #100daychallenge

Please quit thanking me for using your service. I'm calling you because EVERYTHING IS BROKEN AND YOU'RE STILL CHARGING ME! I wish you'd say something rude so I could really blow a fuse. But you don't. "Thank you so much for your patience, Ms. Pirani. We really appreciate our customers and will do everything in our power to help you." First of all, it's pronounced Pih-rah-knee not Pie-rah-nigh. You're brown! C'mon now. "Ms. Pirani, do you mind if I put you on hold? I am so sorry, it's my first day and I want to make sure I do everything I can to make you happy." Girl. Now you're making me feel bad for silently yelling at you. UGH. Ok, honestly I just need to yell at someone because nothing is going right today. And coming home with a midnight deadline and no working internet was just the disgusting, artificial cherry on top. You don't deserve this. I'm just gonna hang up...I really can't listen to this dumb music anymore. Bye Shruti.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 24: Describe each person in your family with just one word #100daychallenge

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Mom: resilient

Dad: passionate

Faiz: visionary  

Scamper: loyal

Lady: cheeky

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Came across this childhood favorite #MadeMeSmile

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This made my day. I was sifting through my old desk for a pen today and came across one of my favorite fun books by Judy Blume. I remember totally related to Peter and thinking my brother was such a pest. He’s definitely my bestie now.

The self-healing #MadeMeSmile series features moments, words, images and more that put a smile on my face. You can also follow my #MadeMeSmile series here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 23: Comfort #100daychallenge

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Comfort is security. It's that bearable silence on unbearably long drives. It's unconditional. You in your rawest form: fearless. Comfort is self-love despite the disheveled eyebrows, undyed grays, chipping fingernails and stained stovetops. Comfort is looking in the mirror and smiling. Comfort is looking in the mirror and wondering how you can be better. Comfort is believing you deserve to be.

Comfort is lying next to someone for hours as you play BuzzFeed quizzes just to see if your answers match up. It's nudging closer just to feel their skin. Comfort is saying out loud what you've been writing in quiet for weeks. Comfort is the one who helps make that possible. Comfort is people who feel like home.

Comfort is that first cuddle with your sleepy pup after its bath. And the smell and sound of crackling candles on a chilly winter night. Comfort is pizza and wine. And your girls.

Comfort is necessary. It gives hope to the hopeless. It validates a sense of contentment. Shows you that happiness, however fleeting it may seem, exists. That it's pure and that it's something to strive for.

Comfort comes and goes. Sometimes it lingers and sometimes it drops in for only a minute or two. Its role and medium transform as we do. But it will always manifest itself in some way or another. We just have to seek. And recognize. Find your comfort.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 22: What does writer's block feel like? #100daychallenge

Photo: Aditya Doshi

Photo: Aditya Doshi

Like being trapped in a dark room with no windows or even a door to escape. I can almost hear the awe of circusgoers as the trapeze artist grazes the top of their heads. The smells of fresh funnel cakes and toasted marshmallows tease me for a split second. I can feel another galaxy inches away, just begging to be discovered. Full of starburst and wonder. But when my fingertips touch the walls, everything disappears. Silence. I feel lost.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 21: Your day, hour by hour #100daychallenge

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12-1 a.m.: Finished Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng!

1-7 a.m.: Snoozing.

7-8 a.m.: Woke up, turned on a little Luc Serra, showered and got dressed for work.

8-9 a.m.: Took Lady out for a walk and left for work.

9-10 a.m.: Created a couple videos and wrapped up a story (for work) from Thursday.

10-11 a.m. Cleaned out my email inbox and wrote a story.

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Work work work.

12-1 p.m.: More work.

1-2 p.m.: Ran to the Post Office and picked up some Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets for a coworker and me.

2-3 p.m.: Wrote another story and published a few videos.

3-4 p.m.: Wrote and edited a story.

4-5 p.m.: Wrote my last story for the day and left work.

5-6 p.m.: Played fetch with my pup in the drizzling rain. Hung out with a neighbor and his husky. 

6-7 p.m.: Met with my closest coworkers for happy hour at Chuy's. Ate and drank to my heart's content.

7-8 p.m. Ate, gossiped and ranted. Met up with a friend for BLACK PANTHER.

8-9 p.m. Stood in a long line to get into the movie, secured perfect seats.

9-10 p.m. MADE MY WAY TO WAKANDA.

10-11 p.m. WAKANDA FOREVER.

11-11:59 a.m.: Squealed about how amazing Black Panther was, called my parents to tell them to watch, called a friend to talk about how great it was and sat down to finish this up.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

 

Day 20: The car your father drove #100daychallenge

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I don't remember the exact day he bought it, but I remember how hard it was to let go. 

My dad's silver Dodge Caravan was like a fifth family member. One of the most iconic objects of my childhood.

We packed our lives into that van twice: once when we moved from Houston to New York and again when we moved from New York to Atlanta.

In New York, my parents (who held medical degrees and were practicing pediatricians and family physicians before coming to the U.S.) spent their days driving from convenience store to convenience store in that van, selling Coca-Cola products and phone cards to keep food on the table.

On the weekends, we'd join them on their escapades. I'm sure there were a lot of "Are we there yet?" moments, but all the memories I can think of right now have me smiling (and crying).

We'd play so many car games in that van. "I Spy" was a favorite. We'd play Antakshari, a sing-a-long game where you have to start a song with the last sound of the song before. It works best with Bollywood music.

In that van, my dad taught me how to sing ginans and qasidas. Ginans and qasidas are essentially religious hymns. And they're so beautifully poetic. 

In that van, my brother learned about the history of Islam and though he's not a very religious guy, he knows more about the caliphates and surahs than any young person I know.

I remember sitting in the middle row of seats on the passenger side, where my mom sat. I remember watching her laugh in the side mirror. I LOVE watching my mom laugh.

Sometimes when we were stopped at a convenience store, my dad would run back with blueberry and watermelon Push Pops.

Sometimes we'd park the car at Central Park and run to the ice cream truck. My brother and I always wanted the Bugs Bunny or Snoopy or Spongebob pop with gumball eyes. My parents either bought the orange creamsicle or classic drumstick.

I remember once, my mom told me our van was broken into while my dad was at Walmart. We lost thousands of dollars worth of phone cards that day. We couldn't afford to lose thousands of dollars worth of anything. I think that's one of the first times I saw my parents broken. But it didn't last.

Eventually, we packed everything up for Atlanta. Leaving New York was not easy for my brother and I. We'd grown to love it. We wouldn't understand until we got older.

That van was so beaten up by the end of its life with us. An explosion of Coca-Cola painted the inside of the vehicle in ugly brown polka dots. There were dents and a broken door handle. But saying goodbye was unusually difficult. I remember my dad getting emotional about it. 

To this day, my dad refuses to buy anything but a minivan. He keeps saying it's a classic family car, that nothing compares. My brother, mom and I all have SUVs and prefer them. I think he secretly does too.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 19: What you're worrying about right now #100daychallenge

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At least 17 people died at the hands of a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after he opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at the Florida school Wednesday. I'm just trying to wrap my head around it.

I can't think in complete sentences. So here's a list of my worries at this very moment:

  • Saying too much.
  • Not saying enough.
  • I worry about my brother, who is 3,000 miles away. He's in college.
  • The parents of the victims.
  • The friends of the victims.
  • The teachers at Douglas.
  • The victims.
  • The law enforcement.
  • The doctors.
  • Journalists in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and Parkland and anywhere else.
  • Guns.
  • The fact that this is the 18th school gun-related incident in 2018. It's been 45 days.
  • The fact that it's illegal for the CDC to study gun violence as a public health problem.
  • Why we can't put our children before our pride.
  • If minds can ever change.
  • The suspect, and how he got where he did.
  • The suspect, and how we could have prevented him.
  • Why assault rifles are even legal.
  • How parents will be able to send their kids back to school.
  • How I'll ever send my future kids to a school.
  • Whether I'll be able to homeschool.
  • Whether my family ever regrets moving to America.
  • How hard it is to love this country.
  • Apathy.
  • That I'll forget how this makes me feel.
  • The next time I'll have to feel this way.
  • And how soon that'll be.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 18: A death in the family #100daychallenge

Photo: Nikodem Nijaki

In less than two months, my extended family experienced two deaths. One was sudden, another expected. And their funerals could not have been more different.

The first was a middle-aged woman who suffered a heart attack while babysitting her very young granddaughters. They're the ones who ultimately called their father.

It was a real tragedy, an experience those young girls will have to remember for the rest of their lives. But I was told the elder sister handled the situation with such grace that you would have no idea she was hardly 7 or 8 years old. 

I knew that woman and met her several times. She had beautiful and kind eyes and boy did she love her grandchildren. 

Inside the funeral hall, her son struggled to let go. His sister was denied entry to the U.S. to attend their mother's funeral. The tears were contagious.

The second death was on my mom's side. She was my dear cousin's grandmother, a woman who had lived a full and wonderful life, my mom said. She was always surrounded by family and that was all she ever wanted.

In her last year, she was bedridden for much of the time. Her grandkids traveled far to come visit and stay with her, to joke with her and read to her and just enjoy those final moments.

I walked in a little late to this funeral, but as I parked and made my way toward the service, I could hear boisterous laughter. For a second, I thought I was at the wrong place. People smiled and told stories and gave big bear hugs. My cousin ran over to me to give me one too. She was dressed up, her face adorned with light makeup, which is typically out of the ordinary for Muslim funerals. She had the biggest smile on her face as she talked about her last days with her grandmother. It was wonderful. I thought to myself, "That's how I want to go."

I've been thinking about how different those two ceremonies were. One life taken too soon, and another at just the right time. It made me think about what makes a life so full that you feel peaceful enough to make your exit. And it made me wonder how I would handle the sudden loss of a loved one. I'm having a hard time just thinking about that.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 17: Recall a recent dialogue between you and a friend #100daychallenge

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So I know I'm a couple of days behind on my challenge, but I promise to make up for it by doing some extra writing and reflecting this week. I do have a good excuse, though! My former college/Paris roommate and chosen sister Sehar came to visit to help me co-host a Galentine's Day party for some of the inspiring women in my life (I could not imagine it without her!) There wasn't any downtime, really. And if there was, Cupcake Wars took priority. Sorry.

But anyway, I wanted to write about one of the many important conversations we had in the past couple of days.

We met with our other former college roommate Puja for lunch on Saturday and ended up talking about our careers, as career women often do. Puja works in public health and has been working closely with Ebola researchers on preventive care in hospitals. Which is totally effing cool, right? Sehar is an awesome behavioral specialist working with children with autism in Texas and she literally tears up talking about some of those kids. And I'm in journalism, an industry I care so much about that it pains me.

We were talking so casually about our jobs, something that irked us or inspired us on a given day. As Puja talked excitedly about a project she's currently working on, I had to stop her mid-sentence to just say how amazing it is that we care so deeply about our chosen paths.

None of us felt we had complete support from our families when we declared our majors or signed that first job contract. And it's not that our families didn't care, but they just didn't completely understand. And that's OK. Most of them didn't come from a world where successful careers transcended business, law, medicine or engineering. 

But the three of us have always felt that if we're going to spend the bulk of our waking hours doing anything, it's gotta be something we love. And if we're doing something we love, there's no doubt we'll find success and happiness. We took a moment to really take it all in and smiled. I'm so proud of them. And I'm proud of myself. 

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 16: Write about a song #100daychallenge

Capitol Records

Capitol Records

The Beach Boys' "Heroes and Villains" always hits me in the most unexpected ways.

The song was meant to be at the center of the band's 1967 album, Smile. But even after 20 grueling recording sessions, Brian Wilson (singer/lead songwriter/producer/co-founder of The Beach Boys) was unimpressed. Al Jardine even said Brian sabotaged the record because it wouldn't meet his ridiculously high expectations. The track that was initially released was underwhelming and sparked seven years of under-performing Beach Boys albums.

Today, it's a cult favorite.

"Think of it as musical deconstruction: You get a fly-on-the-wall view of the control room as Brian Wilson orchestrates everyone from the famous Wrecking Crew (the L.A.-based session musicians employed specifically for the arduous task of bringing this vision to life) to The Beach Boys' other singers, as Wilson nitpicked down to a 16th note being slightly late. That perfectionism didn't always yield chart-topping results, as 'Heroes and Villains' illustrates, but Wilson's brilliance — and that of the performers and songwriters around him — is still worth taking apart and examining, more than 40 years later." - NPR

Since my brother introduced me to The Beach Boys and their "not-so-popular" hits, I've had a special place in my heart for this song, because it embodies the pain, frustration, and genius of Brian Wilson.

"Numerous segments, specifically written in modular fashion, are sewn together to create a pop-music piece that's arguably more adventurous than its similar cousin, 'Good Vibrations,' NPR's Eric Luecking wrote in 2012. The chorus chords (starting at 0:48 seconds in the video below) break me every single time. I feel this heavy rush of utter disappointment, but at the same time, I'm overcome with how beautiful the struggle is. And I felt that even before I knew of Brian's health.

D#m
Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done
G#
pom pom pom pom pom pom pom pom
D#m
Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done
G#
pom pom pom pom pom pom pom pom
F        Bb    D#m      F#
Na na na na na na na na na

Regarded as one of the "most innovative and significant" songwriters of the 20th century, Brian also deeply struggled with mental illness. 

Nervous breakdowns in the 1970s led to tensions within the band and later, a court ordered Wilson be removed from the care of his psychologist, who had been taking advantage of him and helped drive him deeper into a debilitating life of substance abuse.

After receiving conventional medical treatment, Wilson began performing and recording as a solo artist. I saw him last year in Atlanta.

If you're interested in Brian's story, I recommend the movie "Love & Mercy." Trailer below:

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 15: A list of 20 things that make you angry #100daychallenge

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  1. Alternative facts
  2. Rainbow wheel of death
  3. Racism/Islamophobia/anti-Semitism/White supremacy
  4. News consumers who don't subscribe (when they can)
  5. Teacher salaries in America
  6. When I'm valued as a statistic instead of a human
  7. Anti-immigrant ideologies
  8. Papercuts
  9. Anytime we call ourselves a world leader but don't actually give a shit about the non-Western world/planet
  10. Being interrupted by a man
  11. Flakiness
  12. My dog eating my Allbirds (only happened once)
  13. People on their phones inside the theater
  14. Suffocating cigarettes/pot smoke at concerts
  15. Exclusivity
  16. When people know they're wrong, but would rather win the argument
  17. Cruel intentions
  18. People who lack empathy (more disappointing/concerning)
  19. Health care in America
  20. Closed minds

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 14: Your favorite moment in film #100daychallenge

Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

"We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.' That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”  —  Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society (1989)

To choose just one favorite moment in film is no easy feat. Movies, television -- I have a very special place in my heart for them all. But if I really do have to pick just one, I'll have to go with the final scene in Dead Poet's Society (1989), one of my all-time favorite films featuring one of my all-time favorite actors, the late and beloved Robin Williams. My heart still breaks when I think of him.

His performance as the empowering teacher, Mr. John Keating, inspired a generation of free thinkers, myself included. The ending gets me every. single. time.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

All-female mutant crayfish taking over the world #MadeMeSmile

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Every now and then, I pitch a bizarre (and amazing) animal science story. This one was one of my favorites.

Essentially, self-cloning female mutant crayfish originating from one female are spreading all over the globe in surprising numbers without a male in sight. And scientists don't even know how this self-cloning female species, which was only discovered 20-25 years ago, mutated in the first place! Read my full story at AJC.com.

The self-healing #MadeMeSmile series features moments, words, images and more that put a smile on my face. You can also follow my #MadeMeSmile series here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 13: A man jumps from the 40th story of a building. As he's passing the 28th floor, he hears a phone ring and regrets he jumped. #100daychallenge

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If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, or if you are concerned for someone else, call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). To chat online, go to chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. To text, go to 741741 and text HOME from anywhere in the U.S. anytime to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.

It's estimated that only five to ten percent of all suicide deaths are committed by jumping, which made the choice that much easier for John. He was sick of being predictable.

Around 6 p.m. one Tuesday night, John sat in his cubicle, impatiently waiting for his coworkers to get the hell out of the building. He bit into his pen until blue ink leaked all over his white Croft & Barrow dress shirt. He always hated that shirt.

It had been exactly three years and 243 days since John's father died. His girlfriend was there through the pain until the grief turned into rage. He doesn't blame her for leaving. John never knew his mother.

In the past three weeks, the most he's gotten out of a human being is a "Sup?" or a "Hey, can you get that time sheet on my desk?" or a "That'll be $8.75. Second window."

Unhinged from his kind.

John crept to the corner of the 40th floor as the janitor finally dimmed the lights and closed the double doors behind him. He fumbled with the stubborn latch connecting the bottom row of windows.

He took off the shirt he so very hated and as he placed one foot on the sill, John's heart began racing. For the first time since he began plotting his own death, he felt a rush of doubt. The wind felt like icicles scraping against his bare chest. He lost feeling in his fingers.

It was quiet up there. The silence reminded John of how lonely he'd been for far too long. It's the only push he needed to pick up his left foot and place it on the sill next to his right. He jumped.

John fell past the 38th floor, the 35th, the 30th. His eyes were shut, his mind suppressed. Then, the phone. Brinnnng. Brinnnng.

Unsaved by the bell. John's eyes widen as he panics. 

Consumed with regret, John wonders who it is on the other line. Is it Sherry, the one that got away? Or the mother he never knew? Who's there? Is someone there? Is someone really there?

John reached for the window sill of the 28th floor toward the ringing phone. But he was several feet too far. And he was falling too fast.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 12: If you had one week to live... #100daychallenge

Deepak Rao Bhonsale

Deepak Rao Bhonsale

If I had one week to live, I'd go back to the city where I took my first breath: Indore, India. 

I've never been back, never met the people who lived in the flat above ours, never knew what the air (however dense) was like or how the street food tasted. And I can't imagine leaving this life without experiencing that.

I'd want to spend at least 2-3 days in my home city, visit the hospital where I was born, meet those long-lost third cousins and uncles who knew my parents before I was ever in the picture. I want to hang out with my parents' old friends if I can. My mom grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, but maybe her friends will be visiting.

I want to see pictures of my late Amir Dada who had a kind heart but a mind troubled with debilitating epilepsy. My grandparents took care of him until his dying breath. I remember people telling me how surprisingly gentle he was with me when I was born. 

I want to sleep on the roof of that apartment building my pops grew up in, something my parents said they did during the cooling months at the end of summer and right before autumn.

I want to visit my dad's school and maybe meet a teacher or colleague. And I want to visit the clinic where he saw his first patient.

After spending some time in Indore, I want to visit New Delhi and Jaipur and Mumbai and wherever else my parents shared memories. I'd love to visit women journalists in the country, to tell them how much I admire them and that their efforts and impacts are recognized all around the globe. I want to tell them to keep fighting. Keep voicing for the voiceless.

I think I want to spend my last night in Goa, sitting on the beach with my mom, my dad, my brother and my two dogs. Lady, my white-haired pointer bulldog mix would be skipping through the sea without a care in the world. She's a free spirit like that.

Scamper, my aging lab terrier mutt would keep his head on my lap as he tried to fall asleep.

The breeze is just right, the sky's colored in purply-pink hues and I feel happy.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza

Day 11: What you ate for breakfast #100daychallenge

I am so glad I flipped to this short and random prompt today. I'm exhausted and it's already 11:20 p.m.

A story I've been working on since September (which I'll post about later on) was published in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so I woke up extra early on this rainy Sunday to purchase a copy.

I headed to my nearby Kroger and was so satisfied when I got to hold that bundle in my arms. This story and its subjects are very special to me. 

I decided I wanted to go to a coffee shop and read the paper with a cup of coffee and something sweet. So I did.

It was my first time at Cool Beans Coffee Roasters in Marietta and I totally loved it. They have a little working nook called the Starry Night room! It's awesome.

I ordered a cup of decaf and a banana nut muffin. They were out of chocolate croissants.

My banana nut muffin wasn't warmed up, but it was still satisfying. Soft, filled with nuts and just the right amount of sugar. That's really all I have to say about it. I'd get more creative if I wasn't on the verge of falling asleep.

#TreatYoSelf

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza