Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Hard Out Here for a Pim-- Err...Freelance Writer

Hey gang. A little bit late on my goal for a weekly post, that's because I'm still trying to figure out a way to make a decent living as a freelance writer. As I expected, it's no walk in the park starting out. 

Before I even lost my job, I was looking into freelance writing as a possible next career option because my job hunting had fallen into that terrible catch 22 conundrum. All the writing based media jobs I wanted were looking for someone with 2 to 5 years experience and there I was wasting my life away shuffling papers at a tax firm NOT GETTING EXPERIENCE. Freelancing looked to be the best option to 1) write , 2) build a solid body of work with a portfolio and 3) eventually get noticed by those same media based jobs that were denying me because of  my lack of experience.

Getting into the freelance writing game, I faced pretty much the same trouble because I needed to show experience as well and show that I've written and had things published in various arenas. Even with the little experience I've carried in that realm, despite my efforts to draw up enticing proposals, no one wanted to give this ol' guy a shot. I felt like with each rejection letter and notification that a potential client had gone with someone else, I felt more and more discouraged. It was coming to the point where I wanted to go to these guys and just bust out that A Capella like I'm Andy Bernard and sing "Take a Chance On Me"

All the experts and all the blogs I wrote stated that if one was to make the jump from working the typical 9 to 5 and get into freelancing full time, they would be wise to save at least 3 to 6 months of monthly expenses in case a dry spell occurs. Being terminated of course kinda took the attempt to create that luxury for myself, obviously so it's a pretty tough racket right now.

I'm confident things will come around though and I'm grateful for all those generous hearts that have helped me along the way as I work to make the transition. I may have to get a part-time job someone just so there's some steady money coming in but I at least have found my calling. Now I just need to put the work in to get myself noticed, be patient and leave the rest up to God.

Until next time gang.

Monday, August 8, 2016

"I'm Getting Old" Says The Man Under 30

So for over the last week or so I've been getting over a really painful hip injury. A sharp, nearly unbearable pain has been shooting from my right hip, making it hard for me to lift my leg, walk or even get into bed without groaning in agony. Sleep has been terribly uncomfortable and I had a few days of sleepless nights because of the stabbing pain and discomfort caused by my ailment. At first, I thought it was just some freak injury and the pain would disappear in a couple of days after implementing the RICE method. When the pain didn't go away, I went to look up the injury online and listed the symptoms to find out that it may very likely be a hip strain which is typically a sports injury or caused by a fall.

So what was the cause of my hip feeling like crap? Nothing. I have no friggin' clue why it's been hurting like the dickens. I haven't been outside playing sports in Houston's sauna type heat, are you kidding me? It's hotter and more humid than the undercarriage of a sumo wrestler out there! I've been a couch potato lately. The only thing I could think of is that I went to sleep after doing absolutely nothing active and woke up to feeling like Hulk Hogan after dropping 90 patented leg drops on cement.

Usually these type of ailments and pains leads to my wife teasing me that I'm an old man. It doesn't help my cause that I've been reeking of Icy Hot all week and been popping Advil daily. But I guess it is true. It's life's wake-up call that I'm not an invincible 17 year old anymore. When I'm feeling like a cripple when all I did was watch several episodes of "Louie" on Netflix, change my daughter's diapers and ate Taco Bell--I AM getting old.

Boy back in the day I felt unstoppable. In my teenage years, I was finally getting my fat butt into shape, weightlifting a ton, playing lots of basketball, trying to be a Pakistani Nate Robinson by trying to work myself up to dunking on a 10 foot rim. I was full of myself. I was stuck in that fantasy sort of thinking--as if I were some heroic He-Man. All puffed up with pride from gaining muscle mass, I dared someone to challenge me to a duel so I could bodyslam them on the pavement. But then one fateful day, I tore my ACL at the tender age of 17 playing hoops and the recovery process brought me to the realization that the human body is fragile. 

Is that teenaged John Cena in the middle there?

On top of that, another reality dose of me aging is my once thick plentiful mound of hair thinning out. I'm most likely going to be bald a lot sooner than 40, probably by choice because I don't want this terrible patchwork of thin balding spots and thick hair. I've read about it long before I had to even worry about it and I thought at the time I wouldn't really care but yeah man, losing your hair is a really humbling experience. Like geez, I'm literally seeing my youth fading away every time I shampoo and see follicle after follicle get caught between my fingers. 

I get that I'm still very young and ideally have a lot of healthy years left. I'm only 28 as of this post and I'm ruminating about this crap that's really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Aging happens to everyone, some faster than others. Some people mask it well or take care of their bodies and intake to the point where they can postpone it, but it hits us all sooner than we'd like.

In the end, I'll take it as a reminder that this life is temporary and that our spirits will outlive our bodies. After all, we are spiritual beings and our body is just a temporary vessel in this life. Just like our favorite whips (cars to the non-hip. Or maybe that term is outdated and it's something else) paint starts to wear off and get scuffed up and engine eventually fails on us, our bodies will do the same and show us our fleeting mortality.

So I'm at peace with the fact that I'm going to be a baldy sooner than I'd want and Icy Hot may very well be my cologne in the very near future. It's cool, at least it's gonna be fun crapping on all the stuff that the youngins are into and telling "back in my day" stories.

Friday, July 29, 2016

College: The Unnecessary and Avoidable Evil

I'm a little over two months into my freelancing career change and at the moment it's not going all that well. I haven't been hired for any steady jobs and the jobs I have been hired for haven't paid all that well--though I'm grateful to have gotten them, something is better than nothing.

However, I am in pretty good spirits and I am learning a lot about freelancing and a lot about myself. I still couldn't be happier and I am positive things will get better.

I have been listening to podcasts and reading blogs and articles about how to make it as a freelance writer and it's mind blowing how a lot of these folks share my mindset when it comes to college institutions. All of these freelancers want the same thing: they want to be their own boss, run their own life, make money the way they want to make it without being a slave to a corporate paycheck.

So Naive I was...

Sooo not worth it. Keep your diploma, I'll take that money back.

I WASTED four years of my life to get a Communications degree. Don't get me wrong, I am somewhat proud to have graduated college. I was the first in my family to get a diploma. (Well actually I still don't have it, it's in a vault with my school because I have to pay $150 bucks to get it out. Just to stick it on my wall? Nah.) If I could do it over again though, I wouldn't have gone at all or at least not go on my own dime.

When I signed up for college, I was truly I naive fool. Although I received some grants and scholarships, I still had to take out loans to help pay for the tuition costs because I chose to go to a terribly expensive private college that I just on a whim decided to go to because I liked the way the campus looked, not knowing that the campus was so pristine and beautiful because it was built off the blood, sweat and tears of gullible undergrads.

I wish that I had thought about work-study programs and additional scholarships, but I was only 18 years old. I didn't have a friggin' clue what I was doing, and my immigrant parents weren't savvy enough to point me in the right direction. There was no one around to evaluate the wisdom of the decisions I was making, and no one making sure I actually understood the borrowing process and the clusterfudge I was getting myself into.

College to me really just brought me nearly $50,000 of debt that could've been avoidable had I just invested my time in google searches, YouTube tutorials and Wikipedia to learn what I wanted to learn rather than pay an institution to teach me (poorly).

The degree is utterly useless to me. The only benefit it brings is to my resume and even that is pretty insignificant. No employer effing cares about what degree I have or where I went to school or my damn GPA. Employees only care if you know how to make them money which you can't really prove by telling them you've been in a classroom for 4+ years.

It's NOT a Safety Net

People and even kids these days are practically brainwashed to say that college is, "a safety net so you could get a job." I bet if I were to ask them who told them that, they would be flabbergasted.

I read today that employers are caring less and less about degrees and there are companies that post jobs that are not putting a college degree as a requirement to be hired. Google has stopped looking at degrees and other companies are following suit. So what's the friggin' point of getting one now?

So What Should We do instead?

Eventually my kids are going to get to the age where they are going to contemplate going to college. Heck, society will still implant it in their naive brains that it's a MUST if you want to be successful even though a lot of highly successful celebrities have done without it. So I will give them this advice that I will give you.
  • Do what you love. Figure out what your passion is and figure out the best way to pursue this passion. You'll likely find that college is actually an obstacle and not a prerequisite to doing what you want to do in life.
  • Study, study study. You don't need to be in a school setting to study. Study things you enjoy. The internet isn't just there for social media, porn and other distractions. Like I said above, Google search, Wikipedia and YouTube tutorials beat the crap out of college because you learn the same stuff in a BETTER and QUICKER way for FREE.

  • Work or Intern in your field. You wanna be a lawyer? Work or intern at a law firm and see if you'll really enjoy it. Whatever you want to do, find a place in your area that does it and inquire about working there even if its to fetch donuts. You'll see how things are, people may be willing to teach you a thing or two and you'll be a 100 steps ahead of those undergrads that are stuck in classrooms.
  • Read every day. Five pages a day of anything. I read in an article that after college "80% of people never pick up a book again." If you don't want to read, listen to podcasts about things that interest you. The mind needs to continously develop and you can't do that sitting in a cubicle doing crap you hate for 40 hours a week.
  • Learn the following skills which are crucial in every aspect of life but are never taught in classrooms:
    • a. Sales (particularly selling yourself)
    • b. Negotiating
    • c. Self-care/Self-love (Positive self-thinking)
    • d. Interpersonal Communication

Now I'm not ruling out college completely. Some people do actually benefit from college and enrolling in a program that they are interested in. But that's few and far between. If you do go to college and I will tell my children this too, don't PAY FOR IT. Make it fully covered via scholarship so you don't pay a cent for it. If you can't do that, DON'T GO.

As a child of immigrant parents, I know how much parents try to influence you to do things you don't give a flying freak about doing. College is the holy grail for these unsuspecting parents. Here's an interesting tidbit from a blog I read:

I was at a dinner once. Someone who was working for Mayor Bloomberg asked me, “Would you let someone who didn’t go to college give you brain surgery?” 
I said, “It’s not about me. Would you let your son who has no interest in being a doctor, go to four years of school and another 4 years of medical school just so he can operate on my brain even though he hates every minute of it and gets a million dollars into debt?”

Enough said.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Procrastination, Our Terrible Friend

An interesting theory on Procrastination and How To Stop it From Killing Our Goals

So I was procrastinating all week when it came to figuring out what subject I was going to write about this week and while trying to avoid brainstorming I came up with a brilliant topic: procrastination!

While mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed--my go-to procrastination tool in my unproductivity utility belt--I saw an article post entitled,  "9 ways to stop Procrastinating on Your Screenplay". Interestingly enough, that is exactly what I've been doing! 

Seeing as how the article was relevant to my exact situation, I gave it a quick look-see and was fascinated by an insight about procrastination that was articulated in a way that I have never heard before: 
"Procrastination is ultimately a fear of being judged".
Suffice to say, I was intrigued.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The No BS Guide to the 2016 Presidential Election for Those who Despise Politics (Like me)

Yeah I know what you're thinking. It's the middle of 2016 and I'm just now writing about the election. So I'm jumping into this a little late alright? Being on hiatus for so long, I have to play catch-up on a lot of hot blog topics so here goes.

First, a disclaimer. As the title says, this is a guide for those who despise politics. I would be one of them. Trust me, I've tried to get into it and feel like it's my duty to be at the very least be informed but cot' damn I can't stand the garbage! As a child, I used to think that I just needed to get older to care about politics and that soon enough I'd be watching CNN all day like my dad does but NOPE--almost 29 years old and still can't stand CNN, C-SPAN, and all the talking heads blowing hot air either lambasting political leaders or being engaged in a circle jerk. This is my good faith attempt to breakdown the election and the candidates and the implications of the upcoming election(which aren't good either way). Without further ado...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Back From Ramadan Hiatus

Hey everyone, your favorite PhilAsifer is back at it again to give you a quick update in regards to my absence. So I couldn't keep myself to a consistent writing schedule AGAIN, but this time I have a pretty valid number of excuses. 

First off, Ramadan has kinda put a pause on my blogging. With it being a month of spiritual reflection and trying to devote more time to the Qur'an, PhilAsify 101 had to take a backseat. Plus some of the topics I've wanted to touch on are political and worldly issues and I didn't want to get into that stuff during Ramadan.

Secondly, I've been trying to focus more on my freelance career and establishing myself. The best way to do that is to put myself out there and find work and deliver top notch quality writing. That's not an easy task so I had to put my regular blog posts on the shelf that way. 

Lastly, I have had other writing projects and developments that were more pressing. For example, I finished writing an E-book! The first I've ever written and it's one I will let you guys in on in the very near future.

So there you have it. That's why I haven't written anything after promising to post weekly. Please forgive me. If you don't then you can just stick it up your...ah man---

I am fasting, I am fasting

With it being the last day of Ramadan today, expect me to be back at it again next week with a new installment and regular weekly posts of new PhilAsify 101 content thereafter. Stay tuned and stay patient cause I'll be coming at ya next week with a doozy!

Ramadan Reflections 2016

As for my reflections for this years Ramadan, it was a good month spiritual-wise but I feel I did not spend enough time with the Qur'an. I didn't hit my goal of reading the entire translation of the Quran with a juz a day, I didn't do enough tajweed reading, I didn't get to memorize a new surah that I had been doing consistently during Ramadan for years. I didn't participate in any taraweeh prayers (though they are sunnah and can be prayed at home)

It's a lot more different now being the father of two really young kids and trying to really get your Qur'an studying on and doing extra prayer and meditation. My two little ones make it a bit difficult and I noticed that I have to be a bit more strategic and pick my spots when I can read a little or pray longer (when they were asleep mainly).

My children are both a tremendous blessing though and I find solace in the fact that God knows my intentions and he knows that I have responsibilities and rights my family has over me. Running to the masjid and confining myself there because "I GOTTA PRAY AND READ OK?" would be selfish and inconsiderate because I'd be making things difficult on my wife and I'd be neglecting my kids by this sort of self-righteous type of behavior.

So while it feels like this Ramadan is a wash because I didn't do the traditional things like taraweeh prayers, or doing a masjid retreat (ihtikaf), and the whole nine, I don't see it that way. In the past I would've felt guilty or beat up on myself but I'm in a better place now where I won't sweat it too much. It's not about the quantity though its a plus during this time of year. It's always has been about the quality. In Islam, quality always trumps quantity. I do believe I had some good quality prayers, duas and meditation time to really spiritually connect with God on a level I previously hadn't done before.

Often times people use Ramadan to really up their rituals they've been neglecting and then unfortunately drop them as soon as the month is over. But the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH( did say that it's consistency on spiritual activities that God loves the most, no matter how small and minute they are. Consistency is the key and I hope that outside of Ramadan I continue to do those little consistent bits of good and not sweat that I'm not doing these big heavy rituals that most folks who take part in them do really to toot their own horn or do them blindly without really feeling or appreciating the significance behind an action. That's my take away for this year.

I hope everyone had a good Ramadan and I hope also that everyone has a great Eid! 
Catch ya later.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another Muslim, Another Setback: The Orlando Mass Shooting

"Aaaagh! It's another friggin Muslim guy!" I blurted out to my wife while sitting on the couch scrolling the news sites to find out information early Sunday Morning about the Orlando Mass shooting. My family and I woke up and turned on the TV to news of a tragic shooting at a gay night club in Orlando where a whopping 50 people were killed and 53 were injured. Those were the headlines plastered across the screen of a scene where it showed men, bloody and injured being carried away from the club by friends. Others were traumatized, crying from the carnage they had just experienced. It was horrifying. All we could say while captivated by the coverage was, "Man he (the shooter) better not be Muslim."

That's what prompted the search on my phone and sure enough, the idiot was. And sure enough, I reacted like Homer Simpson would when he heard something horrible happened and is praying to himself "Don't be the boy, don't be the boy" and then when it's revealed that his son Bart Simpson caused the destruction, he reacts appropriately.

Tale of the Tape: Muhammad Ali (A Real Muslim) vs. Omar Mateen (A Fake Muslim)

IN THIS CORNER!....a surefire resident of paradise, the greatest heavyweight CHAMPEEN in the world, of noble mind and fine Muslim character...Muhammad Ali!

America (and Muslims) were just coming off of  mourning a loss of a great global hero. Muhammad Ali, boxer, entertainer and activist had passed away and the world weeped and paid tribute to the great man. At his funeral, many attended, celebrities and people who looked at Ali as a role model. Millions also watched the funeral at home. It was performed in the traditional Muslim way and notable Muslim scholars were there to eulogize Ali. It was a great look into what Islam was all about and who Ali was all about. Ali was an exemplary American Muslim and was the standard barer for how a Muslim should conduct himself in America while proudly being a follower of the Islamic faith.

Aaaand in this corner, he's surely hellbound, a conceited selfie taking prick, a homophobe and abusive intolerant jerk, he's a pathetic excuse of a Muslim, Omar "jackass" Mateen!

Now in contrast, we have this prick Omar Mateen who happens to have a Muslim sounding name (because the jerkoff certainly wasn't Muslim by action) who killed innocent men at a nightclub-- DURING RAMADAN no less--before getting killed in a gunfight with police and setting the Muslim community nationally and worldwide back even more. Muslims and Islam is being bashed left and right as extreme, as intolerant of others, as being barbaric, bloodthirsty and vengeful and critics of Islam are going, "I told you so" about us because of this act. 

Frankly it pisses me off and it collectively pisses the entire Muslim ummah off when some a-hole like this does some dumb crap like this. Details and unconfirmed rumors surfaced that he did this to show his allegience to the terror group ISIS and ISIS also claimed responsibility. 

The father of the shooter claimed that he had no terrorist affiliation and this wasn't motivated by any terror group but was merely a hate crime because his son was a homophobe who was ignited by seeing gay men kissing at a beach with his children and being offended by it. His ex-wife has come forward and has said he was violent, intolerant and abusive and he wasn't a devout Muslim. Whatever the facts are, this was totally uncalled for and the POS went off and did this unnecessary crap. In his mind he may have thought he was doing the world a favor, but all he did was make the religion that he erroneously followed look worse in the eyes of the world.

Muslims are sick of apologizing for pieces of shit. We shouldn't have to. We have nothing to do with these kinds of people. Nothing about our beliefs says to go killing innocent people for no reason. And especially during the month of Ramadan where we're not supposed to even argue or cuss much less grab a damn assault rifle and take people out. 

It's like notable scholar Khalid Yasin said best, Islam is like a corporation and Muslims are all employees. If a employee does something scandalous or against company policy, the corporation has every right to cease ties with that person and put a disclaimer that the employee acted on his own, does not represent our culture and our values.  Omar Mateen is not from us. He's not a Muslim whether his name sounds like he is or whether he prayed salat the day before or fasted, he's not Muslim if he's doing shit like this.

Islam is more than just rituals and clothes to wear and not eating pork. It's about character more than anything else and it's of character modeled off of someone with exemplary character, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Muhammad was tolerant of others, of non-Muslims. He did not get angry and advised people to control their anger, he dealt with people justly. He defended innocent men, women and children. Muslims are to model themselves after the noble characteristics of the Prophet. And the beloved Muhammad Ali who is adored by many for his character was only doing his best to emulate the characteristics of the man he named himself after, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

What Omar Mateen did broke company code, it voided his effin' contract! He's terminated, he's finished, he's no longer an employee of the faith. The only thing we as Muslims are sorry for--and it was beyond our control-- is that we're sorry he ever filled out an application and it was accepted. Allah will sort his ass out in the next life. That's the way it should be.

My heart goes out to the families of the slain and I'm glad to see Muslims in Orlando and nationwide stepping up and reaching out in solidarity and support. The Muslims now have to deal with more hatred and vilification and likely hate crimes against us because of this scumbag unfortunately. Being in an election year, this event probably got Donald Trump more voters. It's a damn shame. The whole thing is. 

We'll bounce back because like Muhammad Ali, we know where we stand and we live everyday making sure the people know where we stand.

Winner by knockout, Muhammad Ali!