Tag Archives: Personal
An older Irish man begged me today to go into the Priesthood. He is afraid that the faith is going to sh*t, which it very well might be. There are hardly any young men who attend Mass regularly. Where are the faithful?, he wondered. The Church is in dire straits. It’s no secret. I told that man I would enter the Priesthood to try and save the day, if only if it wasn’t for the only lady, Miss Melony Bethala.
I’m back to instructing tutorials for the course “Introduction to Sociology” at the freshers level. I’ve instructed these tutorials in 2010 and 2011, so it’s fairly familiar material. The blog I had created for the students seemed to be a big hit, so I think I’ll continue with it. Maybe I’ll use Twitter a bit more this year.
I hope to get One Film 9/11 going again. There’s a good chance that we’ll be screening “Journey into America” at the House of Lords, Cambridge University and Oxford University. There may also be a few more screenings around Europe.
I’ll also be continuing on with my interviews and fieldwork for my Ph.D. I’ve nearly finished with the semi-structured interviews and focus groups here in Dublin. There are a few events which I’ll be participating in, so I’m excited for that.
Mel and I are likely to take a few trips around Ireland. I want to head to Lahinch and chill around the Cliffs of Moher. We shall see. Neither one of us have been to Connemara, so maybe we’ll go there.
I’m sure there will be curveballs along the way. Expect the unexpected.
The teaching season here at Trinity College Dublin has come to an end. I’m flying back home to Needham tomorrow, so I wanted to take some time to reflect on life since I arrived back to Dublin in September.
For the past 12 weeks, I’ve taught five tutorials per week for the Researching Society course. I’ve recently received my evaluation and had nearly perfect scores. I’m thankful that I was able to create a learning atmosphere where students could enjoy their time and learn a thing or two about creating a research project.
Since September, I’ve had a bunch of publications regarding my documentary, Journey into America, and my new One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative. I’m happy to have finally cracked the Huffington Post. I’m most proud of the publication in Pakistan’s The Frontier Post, which is published in the tribal areas, or where the U.S. government is currently engaged in a controversial drone war.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the great opportunity of sharing Journey into America and One Film 9/11 at the U.S. Embassy in London and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, which is also in London. We received incredible feedback and met tons of people who were really impressed with both of our projects. People of all backgrounds are literally lining up to help support our interfaith cause.
In November, I was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Dublin to participate in a discussion on U.S. foreign policy. The discussion happened right before the Presidential election, so I said a thing or two about the differences – or lack thereof – between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
My beautiful Melony and I had several excursions. Our first was a hike through Bray and Greystones, which are two beautiful coastal villages near Dublin. Our second trip was epic. We travelled to the great city of Rome. I was able to see the Vatican for the first time. We hope to live in Rome someday.
Since September, I’ve also been conducting interviews in the field for my doctoral thesis. I’ve met some really interesting people over this time. Some of these people include an immigrant from Balochistan who is involved with migrants rights in Dublin and an Irish born Pakistan who has devoted his life to the Sufi spiritual path. Not only have these people enriched my study, but they’ve also enriched my own spirituality.
I’m sure many more memorable things have happened since September. In essence, all I need to say is that I’ve been blessed; blessed with the company of an amazing woman in Melony; an amazing intellectual mentor in Professor Ahmed; an amazing group of friends that have made me a better man; and, most importantly, good health and happiness.
It’s now time to head back to my other blessing – my family in Needham.
There’s this drive within me. I think it’s in my soul. It’s always been with me. I didn’t create it, though I certainly create from it. It was given to me, but I don’t know when or by whom. This drive is a mystery, though I’m certain that it pushes me forward and never backward. Because of this drive I don’t ever pause for a second to think about failing. I don’t get caught up in the words of others and I would certainly never let anyone – or any event – discourage me. This drive makes me feel that I’ve this innate ability to do anything. This drives makes me feel like I was put on Earth for a reason, though the reason isn’t entirely clear just yet. If you’ve this drive, you may get caught up in your own hype – your ego – but the wise among us focus not on boosting our self, but the journey itself and everything that comes with it. It’s a strange thing – this drive – but you would be wise to cherish it, harness it, and most importantly, embrace it.
As many of you may have read in a recent post, Journey into America and the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative were both warmly received at the U.S. Embassy in London. People of all walks of life approached me after the screening/discussion and shared with me their thoughts as well as how inspired they were with its messages. Some of the warmest remarks came from Ambassador Stephenson, who said that Journey into America proves that ‘where there is greater understanding there is not only tolerance but – even more important – there is hope’.
I’m back in Dublin now and catching up with the contacts that I made in London. Several media outlets are interested in working with me to both screen Journey into America as well as promote One Film 9/11. I’m also writing an article for The Nation (Pakistan) on the U.S. Embassy event; I’ll be publishing it probably in the next week. My time here in Dublin is short-lived as we have to jump back on a quick flight to London on December 12th for a Journey into America screening at SOAS. I’ll be sitting on the panel and taking questions from members of the audience. I hope to see you there if you’re in London.
Thanks for tuning in. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about either Journey into America or the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative.
I’m about to head out the door to Portman Square for a breakfast meeting with Ambassador Ahmed. Before I do so I want to share with you a few highlights of the trip so far. I’ll post something with more details in the near future.
The Journey into America screening at the U.S. Embassy went very well. I spoke to a distinguished audience about my relationship with Ambassador Ahmed and was even mobbed afterwards by folks of all sorts of backgrounds who are interested in promoting One Film 9/11. I received about 20 business cards; I also ran out of my own!
In the House of Lords, Ambassador Ahmed’s speech on the tribal areas of Pakistan was both interesting and highly informative. Members of the audience included Knights, Lords, Imams and top-level journalists. I was able to rub shoulders with them all. My favourite moment was with Lord/Sir Noon, who spoke very highly of Journey into America and even requested that I send him 10 copies so that he can distribute the message to his distinguished circle of contacts.
Walking through Westminster Palace was also a major highlight. Parts of the building data back to the times of William the Conqueror’s son, which makes the structure something like 1,000 years old. I even sat in the main Parliament chamber where MPs were discussing the Leveson Inquiry.
The breakfast with Ambassador Ahmed is the last major event of this trip. I fly back tomorrow evening, so that leaves me the rest of today to experience London. I think I’ll walk down Oxford Street and maybe head to Camden for dinner and drinks this evening.
- Personal: A quick and fairly significant trip to London (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Here’s a quick glimpse into a pretty exciting trip over the next several days:
On Wednesday morning, I have to teach a tutorial on naturally occurring data. The tutorial will be packed because I’ve asked the students from the Thursday and Friday tutorials to attend the Wednesday session.
I’m heading on a 14:10 flight to London. I will arrive at Heathrow airport at 15:30, which leaves me roughly 90 minutes to make my way to the U.S. Embassy London, where Journey into America is screening from 17:00-20:00pm.
I think Dr Ahmed is asking me to say a few words at the event about the One Film 9/11 interfaith initiative. A few of us (the students who traveled with him during ‘Journey into America’) might be interviewed by a couple of media outlets after the event. That should be pretty fun if it happens.
On Thursday evening, Dr Ahmed is giving a talk in the House of Lords on the tribal areas of Pakistan and the drone war. He has invited me along, so I’m pretty excited to not only see him in action, but to also walk through the halls of English/British history.
I’m not entirely sure where the House of Lords is located, but I’m hoping it’s in the Parliament building (I’ve never been in).
Before the event, which begins at 18:00pm, I hope to spend some time in one of my favourite areas of London: Covent Garden. I haven’t booked my hostel yet, but I hope to stay somewhere close by.
I will leave London on Friday evening, which leaves me another full day to see the city I once lived. I’m thinking about maybe taking a trip back to Royal Holloway, University of London, where I lived in 2007 and 2008 while completing my masters degree in International Relations.
This trip to London is particularly memorable because I haven’t seen Dr Ahmed in over three years. The two events at the U.S. Embassy and House of Lords will also surely have a lasting impact. I’m very much looking forward to it.
I guess I should arrange a cab from Heathrow to the Embassy, find a hostel to stay in, and maybe book a flight back to Dublin for Friday evening.
I will blog about the experience on Saturday when I return to Dublin.
I’m heading to Logan Airport in a bit to fly back to Dublin. It’s hard to believe that I’m starting the third year of my Ph.D. Time flies when you’re busy and having fun.
The summer of 2012 was a great one. I spent it relaxing and chilling mostly with my family.
I can’t explain to you in words how awesome my Ma’s cooking was. So many delicious meals, from her baked macaroni (macaroni and cheese), to her homemade marinara sauce and meatballs, to raviolis and rigatonis. I’m glad we were able to make it to St. Anthony’s Feast in the North End.
My father and I had some great evenings at our favourite pub, The Biltmore. We had a few laughs, as we always do, on our porch during those hot and sunny New England nights. We discussed politics and had a few laughs at the many Romney gaffes.
My summer was also eventual because of the research I conducted. I managed to complete a bunch of semi-structured interviews and met some fascinating people along the way.
I also managed to run a ton over the summer. I worked my way up to running about 8 miles daily with little discomfort. My amazing sister (Ali) and I had a great run in South Boston where she told me some pretty important stuff. I’ll have to wait to tell at another time.
Of course I can’t forget my lovely Mel, who I spent Google chatting with throughout the days. I can’t wait to be back with her in The Liberties. She brings a kind of peace into my life found nowhere else.
It’s always a bit difficult leaving home. But life must go on. Over the years, I’ve learned that home, as an idea or concept, always travels. Just because I’m not physically at home doesn’t mean I’m not there, or that home isn’t with me. It’s all in my head. Home is how you think of it.
The time we have with our loved ones is precious. Take advantage of it. Time flies. Have no regrets.
Thank you for taking the time to come and visit me. Thank you for your kind note.
I really enjoyed meeting you. I have a sixth sense about people. Or perhaps a visceral feeling. Even enough I met you for a few minutes, I knew you would be an interesting person. And I was correct.
I would like to meet you again. Unfortunately I have misplaced the number you wrote on a card. It was your parents phone number.
I am leaving for California tomorrow. I will return on Friday (Sept 3rd). So please call me on Tuesday Sept 4.
I am very interested in visiting the sanctuary or park in Newton you talked about. In a metropolitan area flooded with noise and human pollution finding an oasis of tranquility is a true blessing.
Hope I hear from you soon.
From a world renowned doctor and one of the most enlightening human beings in the world. I swear.
We can gain a sense of young Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on religion in A Witch Trial at Mount Holly, which raised the concern of his Puritan parents that he held ‘erroneous’ religious opinions. Franklin was not himself an emphatically religious man; while he believed in God, he did not subscribe to one particular creed. What we do know about Franklin’s personal beliefs is that he frowned upon religious orthodoxy, writing to his mother, in citing Matthew 26, that ‘I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue’. To escape the clutch of his parents and Puritanism, the young Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, a city more diverse in its religious makeup (with Quakers, Jews and Christian sects). It was here in Philadelphia where Franklin famously raised money to build a new ‘religious hall’ that would be ‘expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something’. And while colonial Philadelphia had few Muslims, Franklin also suggested that ‘Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service’. Franklin’s virtue was on display when in 1788, he donated money to each religious group in Philadelphia, including a sum for a new synagogue of the Mikveh Israel Jewish community. Later in 1790, Franklin was carried to his resting place by clergymen from every single religious group in Philadelphia. How is that for respect? We as Americans would be wise to heed his message.
Tags: American culture, Arts, Benjamin Franklin, Craig Considine, Franklin, God, History, Interfaith, Islam, Jews, Judaism, Matthew 26, Mikveh Israel, Muslims, Opinion, Personal, Philadelphia, Pluralism, Quakers, Religion, Spirituality, Tolerance, United States
I wrote this speech (with a few typos) before launching Journey into America, which was screened at the Washington D.C. Convention Center. I ended up not even reading it. I was under the impression that we (researchers) were going to be asked to say a few words in front of the audience. This was never planned so I was never given the opportunity. I came across it for the first time since July 2009 while sifting through a stack of papers and figured I would archive it here. The trailer of Journey into America is below the speech.
Thank you all for coming to the show tonight! What a perfect setting, day and time for a film about this great country. Happy 4th of July to everyone! I think our forefathers would be proud of us all on this special evening.
This has been a remarkable journey FOR ME for 2 reasons. Up until one month ago, I was homeless, living without a door and a bed, and struggling to make my way on limited funds. I joined the Journey on short notice from London and had no time to organize a roof over my head. Luckily, I raised money through Dar al Islam, a non-profit organization that was fortunate enough to give me a grant to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity. On this journey, I was literally a nomad, sleeping from couch to couch, from bed to bed, just to get by. It was a struggle, but I made it, and I’m forever indebted to my close friends, Robbie and Daren, both of who are here today, and both of who opened their homes with love and hospitality, just as so many Muslims did for us on our great journey.
I wouldn’t even be here today if it wasn’t for my parents, Debbie and Chris, and my gorgeous sister, Alison. Without my family, I’m nothing. Thank you for everything.
Thank you Dr. Ahmed for being the best tutor on the face of this earth. You changed me life in more ways than you can ever imagine. Thank you to the rest of the team as well. None of us would be here without each other. We have a great team and I’m forever indebted.
I participated in this journey not for fame, for exposure, or for notoriety. I did it because I care for the health of this great country and the preservation of the Founding Fathers’ pluralistic vision. We can’t be strong or united if we don’t understand one another. We must care for one another, go into each others’ homes and places of worship, and treated each other as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Hopefully this film stands the test of time. And hopefully, hopefully, its message will circle the world so people realize how great of a country the United States is.
Salam, Shalom and Peace to you all.
*LOVE, COMPASSION, TOLERANCE
It is early, not too early, on the morning of the tenth of January. I have been, unfortunately, neglecting this journal mostly because of time with friends and our extravagant journey’s. Tomorrow morning, I head to Amsterdam.
The purpose of this entry is to recap events of yesterday, for there are surely many. I am also writing about ideas and research thoughts that I have encountered over the last several days. Due to time constraints, I will touch on eight or so topics of which I have had glimpses of enlightened thought. I will then take a short break, but will resume my activity of yesterday.
On the seventh of January, I took down on paper some of my observations of recent trends in the contemporary world, and more specifically, within International Relations. The pre-World War II era was supposed to entail the growth of democratic forms of government around the world. While the countries of the world have adopted democracy on the face of things, the world has recently seen the notion of failing democracies. These countries claim to be democracies, but for several reasons, primarily crooked elections, ‘true’ democracy has yet to flourish as past advocates of it would have liked. The next paragraph will attempt to highlight failing democracies by evaluating what has gone wrong.
Pakistan is probably the biggest concern for the US and the West (Europe) regarding democratic safeguards in strategically imperative regions of the globe. Pakistan has, on the surface, been seen as an ally in the War on Terror against the Taliban and insurgents in Afghanistan. The assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and its potential negative consequences for Pakistan was, I believe, blown out of proportion. Bhutto did represent democracy on the surface and in the public eye, but her past history proves that her ability to implement true democracy is questionable. The most damage it had on the democratic advocate movement is perhaps in the realm of public relations. The elections of Bhutto to counter Musharraf’s dictatorial rule would have, at least on the surface, looked good for Pakistan and democracy around the world, even if Bhutto failed to practice democracy as a Prime Minister.
What appears to be occurring is a lack of confidence in the democratic system regarding the validity of ‘free and fair’ elections. Recent elections in both Georgia and Kenya signal in age that may curtail people’s’ discontent with the legitimacy of elections. In what was the blueprint for any democracy, elections have come to be seen as an illegal way to seize power. A key issue here is how these elections are being held, who is in control of the ballots, who is voting, etc. If the current administration is in power while also having the ability to manipulate the outcomes of elections, the nation may not be a true democracy. What is need is a neutral body to monitor voting and elections to ensure that power in in the hands of the people.
Switching topics of discussion now, I turn to an analysis of my first day of classes (01/08/08) of my second semester at the University of London. In my morning class – Analytical Approaches to International Relations – class discussion in the last hour of class dealt specifically with rational choice theory. I offered my own unique viewpoint to the class when I questioned the relevancy of rationality in the grand scheme of things. Take the example of pre-Iraq of the War in 2003. One could argue that the Iraqi government was acting rationally by allowing weapons inspectors from the United Nations to examine Iraq’s arsenal of weapons. In allowing the inspection to happen, one can argue that the Iraqis were doing so because they aspired to avoid a military confrontation with the United States. I believe that in allowing these inspectors to investigate within Iraq, the government was hoping that this cooperative behaviour itself would guarantee no military intervention. This was their rationale.
But, as the issue manifested, their rationality was hopeless and irrelevant. One can argue again that acting rationally, as one may think it of as, is beneficial to one’s country. What the war depicted, however, is that Iraqi cooperation did not guarantee peace. One must take into account the motives of the adversary when making these political decisions. Though military intervention was probably inevitable to start with, this specific example in which the necessity of acting rationally is questioned.
So, as is evident, class discussion was interesting and I was also heavily engaged with it both in my body and mind, but also verbally in class discussion. Particularly, my ‘Politics of Globalization’ class seems to be stimulating, especially with the interest of this ‘phenomenon’ known as globalization.
01/09/08 Runnymede Hall – RHUL – 12:19pm
Last night I watched the movie Alive. Have you seen it? It’s about a Rugby team that’s stranded for something like 70 days in the Andes mountains after a plane crash. As you can imagine, the team faces unfathomable hardship and even has to resort to cannibalism. It’s also, unbelievably, a true story.
Something came over me while watching Alive. It made me think about the things that I’ve gone through and the little things I deal with daily. Were/are they as difficult as I perceive them to be?
The things I’ve experienced, really, don’t measure up to what the Rugby players have to wither through in Alive. The movie helps me think about perspective. It challenges me to work harder and persevere even when times seem really tough.
I’m writing this as I’m about to embark on a long, perhaps 7 mile run. I’ll be thinking about Alive in about the 5th mile when my head starts complaining. I’ll keep on moving. It’s not that bad. Alive can attest to that!
Something, though I can’t put my finger precisely on it, has come over my being within just a few days. My hours, as of late, have been one’s dedicated to my studies and thoughts regarding morality, and more particularly, the life I have been striving to maintain for quite some time now. Hardly any of my time is wasted. I have set my standards high and have given myself many goals to accomplish within the last 72 hours. I have specifically worked diligently to purify my mind of negative thoughts while filling my soaking brain of all that is good: knowledge and wisdom. My days here in London are fulfilling. I have made strides as a young man and as a bright scholar.
I am feeling strong mentally and enlightened. I am sensing a personal transformation happening within me. I can feel the momentum growing; it’s like a snowball rolling down a mountain in a snowstorm. I plan on continuing my newfound path of independence and morality. I am slowly perfecting my character. Rome was not built overnight.
January 4th, 2008
9:19 PM RHUL, Runnymede Hall
Lately, I have been engaged in learning about the life of one of America’s Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson. His writings have inspired me to live a more moral and virtuous life. Oftentimes, I cease to ponder on my character and conduct, so it is humbling to learn about my self through someone else.
Last night, I was puzzled over a recollection of mine. For some odd reason or another, I found myself questioning my development as a young man (of just 22) since my entrance into college some five years ago. In examining my own time spent, I also turned back the clock (so to say) and analyzed the outlook I had on life prior to leaving Needham for the first time.
When I first grasped the shape of society and the behavior of those people in it, I was just a middle schooler. Teenagers are ever so concerned with their reputation and their appearance. Nor are children of this age overly concerned with their reputation and their appearance. Nor are children of this age overly concerned with their future prospects, while caring little about being successful. I, on the one hand, made sure that I did not succumb to peer pressure and other temptations that children of this age indulge in.
High school was similar for me as well. I made sure I stayed true to myself, even though I did indulge occasionally on a night out with some local hooligans.
The purpose of this entry is to note the changes I have withered throughout the recent years and to examine where I am currently at in this present stage. I honestly believe that through I have been remarkably successful in college, a part of my soul has been tarnished because I have followed success at many means, while losing sight of what is really important: morality and virtue. I am utterly convinced that a happy and successful life has nothing to do with your job occupation or income, but rather your level of content with yourself. From this day on, I will strive to live a more full and complete life while not being poisoned by this self-interested society we live in.
January 4th, 2008
Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom
12:00 am, Royal Holloway
I booked a flight back home to Boston in March 2012. My sister, the only person who knew of the booking, and I devised a clever plan to surprise my parents. I put together this short clip to ‘Lovely Allen’ by Holy Fuck. Watch the video and tell me whether you think Holy Fuck is fitting?
I rented a cheap little car and was told ‘not to go off-roading’. But what did that mean? What is considered ‘off-roading’? These are two questions I certainly contemplated before taking the car down a dangerous path to the famous and isolated Kambia Beach in the middle-of-nowhere, Santorini. Would I make the car back up the road? Was I going to drive off the cliff? Obviously, I didn’t drive off the cliff because I wouldn’t be writing this. But you should still watch this short 8 minute clip.
Read below and then have a listen.
This is dedicated to all my folks
Diagnosed with a bad case of that proper upbringin
And never took the time to fall in line or follow
Or swallow the thoughts
Of the recognized committees who lurk throughout ya cities
Ya hood, ya town, no matter which type
You from the same type of people try to hold you down
Just because you tailor made for bigger and better things
Never missed a chance to move ahead of things
And what does it bring? I tell you for me
It brought jealousy in backrooms from all the stabbin
Cats posin as my fan just to get grabbin what’s mine
I’m livin in times where my daughters are found around
Kids who can’t afford thinkin caps
But always found drinkin raps and eatin off beats
Claimin’ laws of the streets – but who made the laws?
Everybody playin ‘Rebel’ with no sign of a ‘Cause’
Well I, feel the world around me
I’ve found, that others, will bring you down, just to be down
You’ve got to make up your mind, where you want to be
Where you want to go with your life
With your life..
Yo, I’m never singin the blues but findin the clues to maintain
And I been blessed to reign supreme over nearly every dream
I had, and I made it come true
I’m an imperfect man and I’m holdin the clue
To perfection, it doesn’t seem to matter what direction I look
I find people settin traps
Tryin to find the goal – without havin any maps
Even friends of mine, jumped on line, just to become my adversary
They felt they were entitled to the dairy I made
They don’t come to chill or behave
And they got, toast ready to burn
Not learnin to live, but they yearnin to take what you earn
Well I, feel the world around me
I’ve found, that others, will bring you down, just to be down
You see – you’ve got to make up your mind, where you want to be
And where you want to go with your life
With your life..
So quick to place blame.. and deny the shame we bring upon ourselves
So many names held accountable for my own account
When a large amount was weight – that I made and shaped
When I climbed I found
It was hard to find others around to point my fingers at
Which made me realize the truth
The biggest supressor could be your own ego lookin for an excuse
To plant roots, in a field of self-sorrow
To sprout and follow the first thing you feel
Nourishes your hunger to be respected, it gets hectic
And when I’m watchin the news, and my daughter walks in
And choose to ask, ‘Why were all those people on the floor
Sleepin’, covered in red?’ I told her
That they were lookin’ for God, but found religion instead
Well I, feel the world around me
I’ve found, that others, will bring you down; just to be down
You see, you’ve got to make up yo’ mind, where you want to be
And where you want to go with yo’ life
With your life, with your life..
I need my space, to live..
Well I, feel the world around me
I’ve found, that others, will bring you down; just to be down
You see, you’ve got to make up yo’ mind, where you want to be
And where you want to go with yo’ life
With your life, with your life..
I had been under the knife to remove a sebaceous cyst that I have had since I was a little kid. The cyst was bigger than a golf ball and located right at the very top of my sternum and at the bottom of my throat. It had never hurt, but it was never easy to look at. I had just wanted it to be gone for good.
And so it was.
After the surgery, I had asked one of the nurses to send a doctor down to explain to me how the procedure went. A younger doctor, with bright orange hair, had come to tell me that everything went fine. They removed the cyst in-tact. There were no complications.
‘Great’, I had thought.
Just how I had imagined it would go.
Fast forward a few hours. I was at home, all alone, and had just woken up from a nap. I was awake, but the problem was, I could not lift myself up from the bed. The wound was incredibly soar. Even my chest and neck were in severe pain. Another problem: my phone was on the other side of the room, so I could not easily get in touch with someone for help.
Impending doom is not a good feeling.
Nonetheless, I had decided to play it out a bit. I had figured that maybe the pain and swelling was normal and both would go away soon. As you could expect, that never happened. Indeed, both got worse.
While in bed, I had felt the lump over the wound growing bigger and bigger. When it creeped up over my throat, I knew something was wrong. When breathing became problematic, I knew something had to be done. Breathing, after all, is fundamental. Without it, we cannot exist.
I had mustered up the strength to raise myself out of bed, though when I was up it felt like someone had shot me directly in the upper chest with a shotgun. I went over to the mirror and saw that the wound had opened and was bleeding. I also could not help but notice the massive lump, which went from the top of the sternum to mid-throat. It was not a pretty sight. It had looked like someone inserted a rugby ball underneath my skin.
I had thrown on some clothes and left my house, covering my wound from the sight of pedestrians. My destination was a cab. When I had reached it, I could tell the cab driver was very uneasy. He drove quickly up to the ER at St. James Hospital. He did not charge me a thing for the ride. He wished me luck, which I had felt I needed.
I had entered the ER and went straight for the main counter. The time on the wall had said that the wait to be seen was two hours. So I had to tell the lady at the counter that I clearly could not wait. She agreed. Within two minutes, I was in through to the main ER.
The nurse who first received me, Naimh, was clearly worried. I could see it in her eyes. Not a very comfortable feeling when the head nurse in the ER is a bit shaken by you, the patient. So she sat me down and took my blood pressure. It happened to read 200, about 140 spots higher than it should have been. Niamh said I had no colour and looked like a ghost. She immediately called the doctors who saw me earlier. They had to figure out what could be done to aleve me of these conditions.
Another nurse, who could not have been any older than 22, took me into the ER room to be seated. She was in no rush and that really bugged me. She had gone over to a bed and could not figure out how to lower so I could get on. She was meandering around, asking people questions on whether they could help her.
We were not off to a great start.
Once I was down, one of the surgeons who saw my first surgery had come through and basically said that some blood vessels near my wound had never been shut and that blood clots had formed.
‘Blood clots…’, I thought, ‘…great’.
The doctor, whose name was Catherine, said she had to re-open the wound.
Quick flash back – 5 years. I had been laying on an ER bed in Washington, DC. I had just been struck in the face with a pint glass at a local club. I had extensive facial damage, as you could imagine. When they finally put 75 stitches in me to close the wound, a doctor came in and told me that they had to re-open the wound and engage in a bit of re-structuring.
To this day, I remember that moment vividly. It was one of the worst things I had ever heard. The first operation was under local anesthesia, so I had witnessed it live. The same thing had been true for the second operation.
Now, I thought, here we go again with this incident. I have to go through another operation… awake?
Just my luck.
So, Catherine had opened my wound and started to push down on the massive lump that had swelled up.
It was one of the worst pains. She had pushed the lump down and down to let all the blood out. I could feel the blood pouring down the side of my neck and near my back. I felt myself getting weaker and weaker from the loss of blood. The doctors tossed the oxygen mask on me as I was having trouble breathing. Not a very pleasant sight.
Next, two doctors – one young lady from Belgium and another witty Irish chap – had come to take a look at the wound. Both had said that immediate work had to be done to close off some of the blood vessels, so they decided to put me under local anesthesia for a second surgery in about 8 hours.
I swear… the drugs they gave me did not work, or just were not strong enough. I could feel their hands inside and outside of the wound. I could feel them dig for things. I could feel the machine that zapped the blood vessels shut. It was like someone was shocking me very quickly. It did not hurt, but you could imagine, it wasn’t an easy feeling.
The doctors, however, pulled out a massive hematoma. It had to be the size of a golf ball.
The doctors had also decided to keep the wound open because they wanted to conduct a third operation either that night or the next morning. This operation would be under general anesthesia. It happened to be the next morning, which meant I was staying overnight.
As you could imagine, it was a miserable night. I could not even lay down because of the pain in the neck area. The doctors woke me up at 7am and tore open the patch which was over my wound, which was still open. Not a nice feeling. The doctors said, however, that the wound was not infected. Finally, some good news.
So the doctors had brought me again to what they called ‘the theatre’, which is basically the major operating area where patients are knocked out cold. The anesthesiologists that had looked over me this time was a diverse bunch: a young and nervous lady from India and an older, more mature, man from Sudan. Of course, the last thing I remember the doctor saying, ‘Okay, Craig, we are injected you now’. Next thing I knew, I was awake and in the recovery room.
In the recovery room, I had felt like vomiting. I had figured this was probably due to two knock-outs in 24 hours. I was also having trouble breathing, or so I thought. I had kept telling the friendly nurse that it felt like my breathing was off, but she said it was actually perfect as she looked at the monitor. She said the morphine was playing tricks with me.
I had to spend another night in the hospital. It is not even worth getting into how miserable that stay was.
In essence, as this story winds down, I should note that this event ranks right up there as one of the toughest few days of my life.
I cannot forget the feeling that went through me while I was alone, in my room, looking at the swelling of the wound, trying to catch up with my breathing and, all the while, trying to stay calm as not to do any more damage to myself. I will also never forget the face of the main nurse in the ER when she first saw me.
To be honest, I thought I was screwed. It had seemed like she felt so as well.
But, now that the storm has passed, I take this all in stride and see it as a test of my character.
I am a tough cookie. This has just made me even tougher.
And so life goes on.
Have you ever met or had a conversation with someone and thought to yourself: ‘this person is a genius’?
One evening, while the largely South Asian community broke the fast, I found myself talking with an academic from Boston University, who earlier that week had kindly welcomed me into her office for a chat about my research. This academic treated me as her own son, introducing me to people left and right, and indeed to her husband and family. One member of her family, however, stuck out to me more than the others.
That person was her daughter.
My first impression was the striking similarity between mother and daughter. The daughter was exceptionally bright. And I mean exceptionally bright. Indeed, it was almost intimidating for me to be in her presence (and I was 26 years old and a Ph.D. student)!
They say ‘like father, like son’.
Nay, ‘like mother, like daughter’.
The daughter was so mature and grounded that I thought she had to be at least 21 years old, in college, and going on to pursue a postgraduate degree in physics at Harvard or MIT. She asked me questions about my research, questions I had never really thought about, questions that stimulated my thinking. Her awareness and overall composure amazed me.
And she was only 15 years old!
I felt like I was in the company of something truly special.
This passage from a local newspaper is telling:
She spent a few weeks working with the very littlest children and a few weeks working with the older children. Everyone one loved (her), teachers, children counselors. She was a talented and amazing artist. She was quiet, compassionate and very, very kind. At the end of the summer, I asked the teaching staff to provide feedback on the counselors. (She) received glowing reports across the chart. All adored her.
It’s with sadness to write that the world is now one genius, one beautiful young lady, one great sister, and one future leader, short.
Her passing is all too familiar for me and strikes a chord of a distant heartache.
When I was 16 years old, growing up in the Boston suburb of Needham, Massachusetts, my best girl friend, Stephanie Kenney, passed away after being struck by a train. She was my first crush, but more than that, as we grew older, a close friend who I could run to when I had to talk about things that 16 years old deal with. She was always more mature than me.
For me, as I wrote this now, I can’t help but think of the similarity between the young daughter and Stephanie.
As they say, ‘only the good die young’.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
- Irish blessing
A student in one of my tutorials, who happens to be a well-known journalist here in Ireland, just sent this nice message, which for me makes all the effort throughout the year well worth it.
I’m heading tomorrow morning to meet with a Pakistani friend who I met back in January. This young man, whose name I’ll keep anonymous for security purposes, is a native of Islamabad, Pakistan. He arrived to Dublin via work visa over eight years ago.
When his work visa ended he filed the necessary paperwork to live (legally) in Ireland. His paperwork, however, even to this day, has yet to be handled properly by the Irish authorities. No one even responds to his phone calls or letters. The solicitor he hired years ago has failed to even find his papers.
I, as anyone with an open heart, was disheartened, frustrated, and a bit disgusted when I heard his story.
In a nutshell, he’s a solid man who’s contributing positively to Irish society. He’s well-educated (business degree from Pakistan), caring of his neighbours and family oriented, all qualities which have been associated to some degree with ‘Irishness’.
Aside from the aforementioned, it should also be noted that this man wouldn’t even hurt a fly. He’s calm, carries an easy-going demeanor and treats strangers with the utmost respect and courtesy. This last point was obvious when he welcomed me into his surroundings with the typical (and famous) Pakistani hospitality.
His positive qualities don’t end there. He’s clearly a hard worker, which is evident in his successful business endeavor. He’s well-respected by the local community in which he works and resides. He also told me about his clean record and how he has never once broken an Irish law (or any law for that matter).
For me the hardest part of his story is the present situation with his mother, who is now ill back in Islamabad. Unfortunately he can’t even visit her because if he leaves he probably won’t be allowed back into Ireland.
This man, quite obviously, exists in a state of fear, paranoia, and overall insecurity.
These conditions, speaking frankly, if I may, are in violation of his human rights.
One has to wonder – why is this happening to him?
Is it because he’s from Pakistan?
Does he have the wrong skin colour?
The wrong name?
Is Ireland a racial state?
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on his story. Perhaps I could use your comments as part of my research.
Tags: Dublin, Ethnicity, Government of Ireland, Human rights, Immigrants, Immigration, Ireland, Irish government, Migrants, Opinion, Pakistan, Personal, Politics, Race, Racism, Religion, Sociology, Visa (document)
© ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY
© ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY
Another gem from Robbie Fry. © ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY
Robbie Fry sent me some more photographs from our photo shoot yesterday. I’ll be posting them here and there in the days ahead. The one below is something that I will use as my official professional photograph (unless of course there is a better one!).
‘Zingy’… isn’t it?
© ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY
Today, I headed over to my buddy Robbie Fry’s house near Dún Laoghaire for my first photo shoot. My original intent with the photo shoot was to have some ‘professional’ photographs taken (you know, the serious ones where you wear like nice clothing and look all smart and serious and stuff). When I corresponded with Robbie, who happens to be a great professional photographer (and close friend of Damien Rice), he mentioned that he could certainly help; however, he also mentioned that he had some clever ideas to spice things up a bit. Having a bit of fun with the photo shoot, he figured, could give me different types of photographs for the various audiences I’m likely to cross paths with in the future. Robbie, for your information, has over 600 ‘likes’ on his Facebook page ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY. I’ll post the rest of Robbie’s shots after our second round of shooting, which is likely to occur sometime late next week at Trinity College Dublin. He sent me the picture below as a ‘sneak peak’.
© ROBBIE FRY PHOTOGRAPHY
Once upon a time, I was a pretty lethal striker on the soccer pitch. When I was about 9 or 10, I had something like 6 goals in one game. It’s a true story. You can ask my dad. He wouldn’t lie.
I ‘retired’ from the game when I was about 13, right before I tried out for my high school team. I ‘retired’ because I wanted to focus full time, year round, on the love of my life – basketball. My parents were pissed. My friends were confused and shocked.
Some have suggested that I would have been a better soccer player. Oh well… hindsight is a beautiful thing.
My greatest soccer memory was playing for the Needham Express while it made its run in the Massachusetts State soccer tournament (I believe we were playing in the under-13 group) out in Springfield, Massachusetts. It had to be about 1995.
Prior to our entry, I made a bet with my coach, Mr. Tom Day (he was a very good coach), that if we won the whole thing, he would have to shave his head (as I did before the tournament). Guess what…
We happened to win the entire tournament.
And who was the first player to take the clips to his head?
You bet. It was me.
I scored the winning goal – and only goal – in the championship game against the team from Danvers. It was a cross from the right-side of the pitch from Matt Chadwick. I was unmarked right in front of the goal and just headed the ball right in. It was the only goal of the game. We went bonkers.
It was also the only State Championship any of us ever won. If we only knew that at the time!
This picture was taken in the mid-1990s. I had to be about 12 years old. You can see how I small I was. To be honest, I was always much, much smaller than the rest of the chaps growing up. I didn’t hit my growth spurt until I was about 16 and I didn’t stop growing until I was about 22. I now stand at 6’1.
I look a bit like Mighty Mouse out there. Don’t you think?
Have you thought about who you are?
About where you’ve been?
Of what you’ve seen?
If not, when will you start?
Ever so gradually or now?
And do you prepare yourself?
Take stock of your soul?
Do you know what drives you?
Do you stray from that?
Do you take shortcuts?
And what about goals?
Do you set them?
Do you measure your progress?
Do you celebrate it?
Do you pile up the victories?
And are you ambitious?
How big are your goals?
Do you want the challenge?
Do you venture into unknowns?
Do you find the courage?
Or do you fear fear?
Do you take risks?
Do you wallow in failure?
Is it a death sentence?
Or simply an obstacle?
© Craig Considine