A Few Minutes With Sabrina
Two years ago today, this blog kicked off, hopeful and ambitious, as a project between people who would become good friends, coming together with all our differences to make space for each other at the table of Life. Although we didn’t mean to get tangled in over-long sentences and pretentious metaphors, it did occasionally happen (my fault, I’m afraid), and for that I apologise to the internet at large. A great deal has happened over the past year for all of us, and just as things reached the apex of Big, a lovely surprise fell into my lap, in the form of an interview with Sabrina from Slice of Lemon.
Slice of Lemon is written by Sabrina Enayatulla, whose name, like mine, does not end with an ‘h’ even though you want it to, and will never end with an ‘h’ no matter how many times you misspell it. She’s an award-winning journalist who quit her job at The Washington Post.com to pursue her own writing, bringing us the hilarity and light-handed Life Messages that is Slice. This blog owes a debt of inspiration to Sabrina, and is fully half the reason it existed in the first place.*
She’s currently working on the manuscript of her memoirs, as well as continuing to educate and entertain the Slice-reading masses. Hop on over to Slice of Lemon to read more and die laughing.
An Interview with Sabrina Enayatulla
What does the Boss think of Slice of Lemon?
I don’t like to speak for other people, so I thought I’d let him answer this one!
I think SOL is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. I think it’s one of the few blogs that hits on such a wide array of topics in an entertaining but still enlightening way. I enjoy reading it at work when I’m losing my mind; reading something lighthearted and fun gets me back into my rhythm of work. I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to evolve.
You write a series, ‘The Journey Within‘, exploring some deeply personal turning-points in your past in a moving and sometimes haunting way. Are you ever troubled by the question of how honest to be in your writing? Do you have rules, or a ‘Do Not Pass’ point as far as self-disclosure goes?
I absolutely have boundaries for myself regarding what I write, and more often than not, those boundaries are dictated by my faith. If I’m ever concerned about something I want to write, I turn to prayer first. Next, I seek advice from my husband, and finally, I talk to my Sheikh (or religion teacher) whose advice and guidance I trust wholeheartedly.
Ultimately, I know that my name will forever be attached to what I write. As a journalist, that gives me a sense of pride; as a Muslim, I feel the weight of that responsibility. I’m well aware that my words have an impact, and my only hope is that whatever I say or write will present a teaching opportunity for whoever comes across it, and the emotion and response evoked from others will present the same opportunity for me.
Because I do publish a personal blog, I think most people would be surprised to know that I’m actually a very private person. What I publish on my blog is probably less than five percent of my life (past or present), and the remaining 95 percent is private, sacred, and privileged information. Ultimately, I edit myself with a heavy hand anyway so while the Journey installments are often very raw, or my daily posts may feel very personal at times, I’m extremely fortunate to be in a place where I have full creative control over the content on my site. I once had a friend ask me, “Where do you write the stuff that’s so personal you would never tell anyone?” To which I responded, “I would never write that stuff down.”
You’ve defied every known law of physics and traveled back in time to meet 15-year-old Sabreen. BUT:
a) She can’t know you are Future Sabreen
b) You can’t tell her what happens in the future
c) You have five minutes before you are sucked back to your own time and physics goes back to normal.
How does the conversation go?
I would pull her/me aside, and say: Value honesty, justice, and compassion over all other qualities. Use those attributes to set the bar for yourself and measure everyone you bring into your life by that standard. Be incessantly kind and overwhelmingly grateful to your amazing parents. They have taught you, and will continue to teach you invaluable life lessons that will benefit you beyond measure for as long as you live. Strive to be on a life-long journey toward self improvement. Be humble, be patient, be kind and be sincere. Look at yourself with a hard, judgmental eye, but never that way at others. And finally, homework isn’t really that big of a deal. I’m not supposed to tell you this, but you turn out okay – late assignments and all.
Most of the Rock Pool’s writers are incurable bibliophiles and we could probably talk about books all day. Are you a book-person? What are you reading at the moment? Do you have, like, a ‘Sabrina’s Top Five Favorite Books in the Universe’?
I don’t have a top five per se, but I do enjoy reading for pleasure (though indulging in a good book is a bit of a luxury right now because of my tight work schedule). I have a few novels on my bookshelf that I’m hoping to get around to before the end of the year, and a few books that my husband has highly recommended I read. Ask me this same question in November and we’ll see how well I managed my time!
Does blogging hold a ‘dark side’ for you?
I guess the only “dark side” is when you’re easily accessible to the public, some people feel entitled to say things that they would never say to you from not behind a computer screen; the anonymity of the Internet can be a blessing, but it can also be a hide-out for the cowardly scum of the earth. I’m extremely fortunate to have an incredible group of readers (all of whom I hope to meet someday!) but the reality is, people are people. We all have weaknesses, and some people showcase their weakness through hatemail and/or nasty comments. Occasionally, because of my international readership, my (I’ve been told) sarcastic American humor or cultural references will get lost in translation, and I’ll get an e-mail ending with someone telling me they’ll never read my site again. It never bothers me though. If my mom called me and said she didn’t like something I wrote, then that would make an impact. But if a stranger takes time out of their day to say something egregious, I can’t find space in my heart for those words to occupy. But I will say that coming across crappy people (virtually or physically) is a blessing. They’re a great reminder of who I never want to be.
How long is your Life List? Can you tell us a little more about it, like what it is, what you’ve crossed off so far, what you want to cross off the most, which one you think will be the hardest to do, and so on?
Right now, my Life List has about 380 items on it, and the list continues to evolve. I started this list in high school as a way for me to organize and visualize my goals; writing them down made me feel a sense of accountability toward myself. After I got married, my list was a way for me to share my vision for my future with my husband. I’m happy when I cross anything off my Life List, but if I had to pick something I’d like to cross off next, it might have something to do with conquering a fear, or traveling somewhere. I’m not sure which of my items will be the hardest to tackle because each item poses its own challenge, which is how it got on the list to begin with!
You and Oprah: what’s the deal? Why she so cool? (I have to admit right off that I know very little about her, I somehow missed that growing up.)
I’ve always respected Oprah Winfrey as one of the female pioneers in the world of journalism. I don’t always agree with her topics or her point of view, but I look at her as someone who’s hardworking, generous and ambitious – all of which are qualities I admire. She paved the way for women of color in this field, and as a journalist, a minority, and a woman, I appreciate her for that.
Your high school has invited you back to give a talk to the senior class, with the condition that you ‘be profound’. What are you going to say to them?
My talk would probably be centered around one main point: the social responsibility that each of us has toward each other, our communities, and our planet. This is an all-encompassing topic, which would allow me to cover everything from bullying, to teenage love, to going green, to showing gratitude. I hope I have ample time to prepare!
On your About page, you talk about your love of travel, and we had SO much fun reading about your cross-country trip with The Boss. Where would you most like to go next and/or where could you see yourself settling down permanently (if at all)?
That trip was so much fun, I’ve been telling everyone to add, “Drive across the country” (the U.S., I mean!) to their own personal life lists. My husband and I would love to go somewhere very tropical, or very cold next. Any ideas? We’d also like to go for Hajj (the holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia) someday. In terms of where we want to settle, there are so many future factors that will determine that answer, we really don’t know yet!
What do you do when you’re not doing Slice? I mean, apart from vegging out on the internet (like the best of us). What brings in the cash, kudos and contentment?
In addition to authoring Slice of Lemon.com, I’m the managing editor of Newlyweds-Dish.com; I also freelance and teach part-time. All of that brings in the cash, kudos and contentment, and of course, my husband brings all three to my life too!
Lastly, we want to know, in detail, where you get your scarves because the little, “Oh, I check out Target and HM,” is totally getting us nowhere.
Target and H&M! But I smiled when I read this question. Also, BP at Nordstrom on occasion, and gifts from friends and family (usually picked up from abroad).
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Sabrina! We hope you guys, dear readers, enjoyed it, too.
Photograph © Sabrina Enayatulla. Used with permission.
* This is the other half of the reason.