Image: Pexel
[Skit. Take One.]

I never realized how stressful Christmas is. I turn on the TV and the most relaxing thing to watch is Haunted House S.2. And that's just cable channels. DON'T EVEN, LOCAL CHANNELS.

Seriously though, how do my introverted cousins survive so much Christmasiness? I thought Eid was stressful. But at least we don't have to be all decked up all month. I FEEL YA TREES!   

Alhamdulillah my family consists mostly of straight and narrow Wahhabis and Hijabis. Imagine if we were so loose to indulge religious diversity EVERY YEAR. Heck, there would be one less cousin every year. Even the emergency hotlines would start ignoring our calls.  
Dispatch 1: "I got a call from the house in the..."
Dispatch 2: "Yeah, yeah. They're regulars. Give it an hour. Then send in the body bags."   
So. Yeah. We're mostly just Muslims. Sunnis. Safe. Solemn members of Snapchat. It's a good thing we're so homogenous. We only have to be nice to each other just once a year. Especially when we can't afford voluntary exile in Bali or Dubai.   

Just the force of happy from one Eid is enough to depress even the sugar-high clown on coke. Imagine having our Christian cousins living with us here too. Or Democrats. We'd have to celebrate both Eid AND Christmas every year. Sweet Lord, IMAGINE ALL THE DISHES OUR WOMEN MUST WASH!  

I have no issues with Church. By all means, it'd actually be nice to get the Piety Stamp AND sit on chairs. I might even have time to attend Maulid Nabi Celebration at the mosque across the road. If I can make it through traffic. Because, Mashallah, everyone seems out here tonight. Not doing anything really. Just parking. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ROADS ARE FOR ON HIGH SEASON.   

You can't miss the fact that both Prophets have their birthdays on the same week this year. And what's so cool about Indonesia is that it's a National Holiday on both days! So both Prophets get their birthday bashes, and their followers get a VERY LONG WEEKEND.   

And you can't help but notice that at some point, out of the riot and noise and stampede seem to emerge a single common slogan: "AMEN". And it's catchy enough to be repeated after profoundly megaspeakered sentences.

"Bless this land upon which uncovered, tahfiz graduate Saudi women get to learn yoga, witchcraft and Vipassana. [Amen.] Bless the technology that blurred the segregating lines and made it possible for us to send love and greetings and money to each other all year round. [Amen.] Bless the freedom of thought and openness of heart that allows us to physically skip town on Ojeks and cheap airfares whenever the hugs get too tight, the daggers in our backs too deep. [Amen.] Praise Thor and Freya. Amen. XXOOXX."  

[End of skit.]  
[Applause]
Image: Pexels.com

How reading a hundred books in a year feels:

1. it felt rushed there were times when i wished i could have paused at a page and memorize the lines. times when i wished i could live and bed and sing certain lines by heart. but with so many books, i didn't have that privilege. i had to let go often. hold it for just as long as short-term memory allowed, and then move on to the next passage.

2. the things that mattered, stuck anyway.  memory is a muscle. i used to be afraid that my brain would run out of memory space if i stuffed it with too many stories. but memory isn't only lodged in the brain, right? memory also takes space in bones and muscle tissue.

i can't tell you details or even chronological orders, but i can still tell you how the books felt. i can still summarize the contents of a book just by looking at the cover. i can tell you the parts that made me cry in the depths of the Lords of the Rings series.

and you can't find your feelings in search engines. so reading still beats the internets. hallelujah

 3. great books make great company.  great books form great relationships. and that kind of relationships last through the years, long after the bitterest and saddest notes have been forgiven.  (here's a gentle pat on your butt for every time you remember me next year, babe. obviously.)

and just like how every person you meet enriches and adds something into your life, so did every book. i read 125 books. at least a hundred of them made me a better, happier, bigger, grateful-er nerd.

4. not every book is worth the time.  out of hundreds, there had been at tiny percentage that bombed. like, just krflynkd. dead. unpickable. ever.

i started reading those books for the sake of expanding my horizons (an experiment which went really well with the Hunger Games series and Gaiman's books).

unfortunately, not everything improves with time, no matter how drunk you get. and it gets more obvious jarring when you've already been reading few dozens of classic literary works. you can't unlearn what you've learned. so when the blasé exposition, the cliche abuse, or the impatient build-up begin to flaunt their hideous hides, there is nothing else to do but die trying.

or put that damn book away.

5. there's always another book.  this is something i need to correct about my past conviction on reading only books by dead writers. some of the books on the best selling lists aren't so bad.

so instead of worrying about running out of Steinbeck and Austen novels, reading books by living authors reversed that sense of scarcity. that there will be more books to read next year. and forever. and since there are so many books to read, we must read fast. and plenty. and always.

maybe next year i'll read 130 books. or just 50. the point is, there will be plenty. and everything wonderful that happened to me this year can repeat themselves next year. as long that i'm reading.     

and if this is what growing up boils down to, i'm glad. if reading so much has taught me to be less afraid, more forgiving, and less lonely, then it hasn't been such a bad year at all.

here's list of the books I've read in 2015. Where's your list?

 
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