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Cover Letter: A Collection

​I prefer sitting in the park when it’s raining. Watching the trees dance, I Surrender my breath to the river of Whispers between their trunks. They breathe for me and through me. Teach me how to breathe again. 

A break in the clouds gives the signal for the bumblebees to emerge from the low grass of the park. They know the time they have is short. They roam the pastures in tandems, burying themselves in wild flowers until the wind begins to pick up again and the air is moist.

 I suddenly feel like the wildflowers. Dry and wilted in the light and hunted in the quiet of the dark. “I am being trolled by my own life”, the only sensible explanation I have for myself at this point. The strides I’ve made lend to the restoration of my sanity time and time again, but today the affirmations  just aren’t working. I’ve given myself permission to check out for the next few days. It’s fair. 

But this book. This cover letter collection. It’s the crack in the code we’ve all asked ourselves for at one point or another, in some way or another. What about my cover letter? I’ll admit, I used to peruse postings on Indeed.com that allowed for you me to  apply from my smartphone because they never required a cover letter. I wanted a job. Any job. I was in a complete rut and didn’t care about the quality of my livelihood or how that would affect the primary facets of my life; home, family, self, etc. My whole purpose was to obtain a job, I trained myself to believe. I’d subscribed to surviving, not living. I was a job. 

For four months, I watched myself fluctuate between manic depression, anti socialism and anxiety. I attributed my value to my earning potential. I was pulling mediocre positions because I’d already subscribed to the idea that I could only obtain certain positions with an associate’s degree. I started focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have. 

The good thing about bouncing my mind off of so many places is that I don’t stay low too long. I began applying to more jobs between practicing Arabic and Spanish to switch my mind when my thoughts became repetitive and I was close to going mad. As I studied and applied, I slowly walked myself out of the mind that told me to keep going back to square one, and paved a way of thinking that created a space for my dreams. Dreams are created and, like the rest of us that are created, need space to thrive. Your mind is its first world, the womb your dreams emerge from. 

What of the dreams born of a mind that is lost, invaded, over crowded, wasted, abandoned, chained, torn? These thoughts raced through my mind until I went numb. For three weeks, religiously, I listed the things I was grateful for in my life and read them before going to bed at night. I tried including variations of the same list until I felt myself losing focus. The entries became more interesting as I tweaked and anteed the complexity of each entry.

 The more I reflected, the more I found myself grateful and open to revisiting more reasons to be grateful, and what I “didn’t have” slowly transformed into what I desired. It was a simple shift in language. 

I’d noticed that I was a good partner, but not so great to myself. I wondered what I could do for myself after years of helping others reach their goals. I knew I had to be in the right mind to do it. I knew no matter what, I’d have to speak to myself from the heart if I was going to create a space that gave life to my dreams. I began to free-write regularly, in present-tense, the things I wanted to foster and maintain in my life. I knew whatever position I would commit to would be a life-partner of sorts. My partner in pursuit of my dreams. 

Whatever opportunity came had to fulfill that purpose. I shifted my perspective and placed more value in my role as a prospective member of the organization’s community, instead of potential employee. I had something to vet as well. I decided I would work in either community engagement or education. I wanted to see the extent to which my work would reach. I wanted to make a difference and a way for my family and community. Will my work support my dreams? Yes. How? My dream is to be a travel writer. A position in education or community engagement /development would be conducive to my lifestyle as a mother and individual. Plus, it will be manageable and practical for trips and writing excursions. My next question was, do I have the tools to obtain a position in education or community engagement? Well, yeah! I reviewed my resume one more time before writing my cover letter. Then I went over the reasons why I enjoyed each position that I listed. I asked myself what elements of these enjoyable positions would I like to see in a prospective position? Which benefits of my previous experiences would  I like to see? The absence of which benefits would be deal-breakers? I slowly began to form my own ideal position. 

I kept that all in mind while composing a letter of interest to each prospective employer I came across. If you desire a position and you have already established it will be an effective and transformative partner in achieving your dreams, then it is suitable enough for you. If it doesn’t inspire and support your dreams, move on. You’re going to waste your brain power. 

A cover letter details your thought patterns. It’s a peek into your mind, an elaborate note of your passion and mission. An invitation to set the tone of a discourse in one phase of your career.

 The ideal position should motivate and support your innovative mind. My take is, if you can’t spare the words as to why you’re interested in the position, then you’re underwhelmed or distracted. Come back. Research, reflect and review.

How do you want to set the tone? How much of your life do you want to change? How much do you want to expand / extend in your life? Will this position help you foster and maintain those parts of your life? How? What are the goals of the organization / company / group you are applying to? How will you help them achieve and maintain their aims in the position you are applying for? If you don’t see how you can help, serving in the capacity of the position you are interested in, what related experience do you have? A lot of positions are offered across industries. For example, a good number of the lunch staff at the school I teach at are also bartenders.

 Is there a story you could share to express a theme related to the company / organization’s mission? Is there somewhere you travelled? A trip abroad where you engaged a community that the organization currently serves? How did the experience change you? How does that connect to the mission of the organization you’re interested in serving? How does it connect to your visions for your own life? What elements attracted you to the position? It’s good to keep checking in with yourself while exploring positions. How will you effectively express your intentions and obtain the right partner position for your purpose? How will you commit to this position and your dreams? A lot of the writing starts before you even see the page.

The following letters give you a glimpse of close to a decade of my life. The good, bad and ugly wrapped up in a delicate delivery  of facts and events like a first-person obituary. All in the name of a cover letter. What goes into one? This isn’t a manual, but a testimony of the life and works of a young, black woman, mother, educator, student(-of -life) and healer in Philadelphia. I’m still deciding if I’ll make a book including the doodles, freewrites and poetry I wrote in between drafts. But for now, here are four of my most recent cover letters. All of which I got callbacks and offers for (I may include letters that got me no responses in the book) and all of which are spaced out with WordPress’s formatting…. just keep scrolling after the first letter… and so forth.









































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Contention

What’s it mean to be alone? 

I said to myself 

Alpha : This is 16

Your mother has been charged with aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden.

This is 16 

I have the power to change whatever is in my hands
1999

I’m becoming an emotional time-bomb. My nurse practitioner diagnosed me with manic depression and suggested I see a psychiatrist for anti-depressants.

This is 12. 

The thoughts of impending death and doom sit at the perimeter of my mind as I try to cover them with smiles or goofyness, slowly losing my mind in real life. 

I’ve learned to carry two identities; Kamila and Girl X. Most people see Kamila. I get to see Girl X and not seeing her ever again would be too soon.

She creeps in in the quiet moments, the ones I dread. That’s when the darkness takes over. I’m back in that house on 60th street with them. 

Every time I close my eyes.

I hate going to the musajids (mosques), they’re full of all of their friends. I feel like an outsider everywhere. 

I don’t belong anywhere. Allah is trying to show me He doesn’t want me around. 

Fear and anxiety ride my face like a mask. My mother wants to know why.

I don’t trust anyone in this community anymore. 

…Is what I want to say. 

What I actually say,

Nothing.

I’ve been cast as a weirdo by most of my peers. The sappy, silly girl who cries at the drop of a hat. 

Fuck this 

My mother is at work. She took a sleeping bag on her way out this morning, so that means she’s not coming home until tomorrow. She’s been working at Verizon as a developer/analyst and manages remote projects for outsourced teams in India. Her hours off are non-existent, which leaves me (not) writing to my dad after homework, dinner and bath is out of the way. 

I always wait until morning to make my lunch, and I think that’s what’s saved my life. 

My mother knows me.

Kamila!

Kamila!

……..

I’ve swallowed some pills.

I wake up in CHOP with a saline drip and a sore throat.

Kamila?

-Hmmm? 

Baby, you’re in the hospital.

-…..

They pumped your stomach. 

My mother knows me.

2000

Why did you wait to tell me? Look at how long it’s been! Why didn’t you tell me? You know I would’ve-

Exactly why I didn’t tell her until now. I really had no choice. She knows I’m fighting something.

I feel terrible. My mother’s rage shrouds the hurt, disappointment and betrayal she’s juggling. I want to die. I want to take back the truth. I want to make it go away, watching her recall those years.

I’m okay, Mommy.

She doesn’t accept that  answer. 

I start therapy a week later. I’m bombarded with suggestions that my suffering could be a result of my religion. I know I’m being indoctranized. My therapist is a Quaker woman who has wittingly expressed that she has no idea what it means to be Muslim. 

I start to see my nurse practitioner regularly to talk. 

You’re a strong young lady, Kamila. 

-I don’t even know what that means.

March 17, 2004

My braids are burying my eyes as the metal spheres of what appears to be the barrel of an assault rifle sits about a foot from my face in between my ropes of hair

Let me see your hands! 

Pull the covers back! 

Sit up!

Follow me!

The Diary of Anne Frank is a favorite of mine. My books are my family. My life has a way of reflecting the stories I’ve come to know as favorites.

Anne Frank, born June 12, 1929, died in a concentration camp shortly before liberation troops released the surviving  prisoners. The authenticity of her diaries have been called into question as the passages demonstrate the eloquence and imagination of one far beyond her years. 

There’s a rare beauty in a survivor. 

Anne and I have the same birthday.

I.C.E. UNIT 

C.I.A. 

Pennsauken Police 

Can she put on a khimar?

-Agent (I forget his name), go with Kamila to get a—?

(Mom) Khimar, a scarf.

-A scarf

They’ve turned over everything in the house. The kitchen looks like a stampede hit it. They’re in my room, the attic, flipping my bed over. My dhikr beads and Al-Ghazzali’s Book of Death and the Hereafter has its cover ripped off. 

My books are my family.

I’ve got my mother’s Hajj-whites. I don’t know how this is going to end.

They’ve put the guns down and my mother is talking to a C.I.A agent. Looks like they’re ready to talk to me.

Kamila, how old are you? 

-16

Where do you go to school?

-CCP

What’s that stand for?

-Community College of Philadelphia 

Do you know why we’re here?

-No. 

I’m looking around now and Mom’s sitting by me and I can hear my step-dad in the living room being interrogated. They’re allowing me to stay with mom sense I’m a minor. 

(Now looking at Mom)

Your presence is your consent.

As if yours is.

I’m definitely going to give him my ass to kiss.

Do you know why I’m here, Kamila?

-I don’t know why you, or why they, are here. You want to talk to us, I assume. 

I am an agent of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the CIA. Do you know what the CIA is?

-An acronym 

Mom’s clearing her throat to say, “Kamila, not right now”.

Your mother and your family have been under investigation for some time now and we have reason to believe she is helping a very bad man do some very bad things.

I’ve just told the man I’m in college, he could at least spare me the Christmas Story. 

Black and white surveillance photos cover the kitchen table. Pictures of me and my friends going in and out of my house, my mom and stepdad and his kids and their friends and family coming and going, as far back as two years.

 Your mother has been charged with aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden.

This is 16.


Alpha : Sweet 16

Your mother has been charged with aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden.

This is 16 

I have the power to change whatever is in my hands
1999

I’m becoming an emotional time-bomb. My nurse practitioner diagnosed me with manic depression and suggested I see a psychiatrist for anti-depressants.

This is 12. 

The thoughts of impending death and doom sit at the perimeter of my mind as I try to cover them with smiles or goofyness, slowly losing my mind in real life. 

I’ve learned to carry two identities; Kamila and Girl X. Most people see Kamila. I get to see Girl X and not seeing her ever again would be too soon.

She creeps in in the quiet moments, the ones I dread. That’s when the darkness takes over. I’m back in that house on 60th street with them. 

Every time I close my eyes.

I hate going to the musajids (mosques), they’re full of all of their friends. I feel like an outsider everywhere. 

I don’t belong anywhere. Allah is trying to show me He doesn’t want me around. 

Fear and anxiety ride my face like a mask. My mother wants to know why.

I don’t trust anyone in this community anymore. 

…Is what I want to say. 

What I actually say,

Nothing.

I’ve been cast as a weirdo by most of my peers. The sappy, silly girl who cries at the drop of a hat. 

Fuck this 

My mother is at work. She took a sleeping bag on her way out this morning, so that means she’s not coming home until tomorrow. She’s been working at Verizon as a developer/analyst and manages remote projects for outsourced teams in India. Her hours off are non-existent, which leaves me (not) writing to my dad after homework, dinner and bath is out of the way. 

I always wait until morning to make my lunch, and I think that’s what’s saved my life. 

My mother knows me.

Kamila!

Kamila!

……..

I’ve swallowed some pills.

I wake up in CHOP with a saline drip and a sore throat.

Kamila?

-Hmmm? 

Baby, you’re in the hospital.

-…..

They pumped your stomach. 

My mother knows me.

2000

Why did you wait to tell me? Look at how long it’s been! Why didn’t you tell me? You know I would’ve-

Exactly why I didn’t tell her until now. I really had no choice. She knows I’m fighting something.

I feel terrible. My mother’s rage shrouds the hurt, disappointment and betrayal she’s juggling. I want to die. I want to take back the truth. I want to make it go away, watching her recall those years.

I’m okay, Mommy.

She doesn’t accept that  answer. 

I start therapy a week later. I’m bombarded with suggestions that my suffering could be a result of my religion. I know I’m being indoctranized. My therapist is a Quaker woman who has wittingly expressed that she has no idea what it means to be Muslim. 

I start to see my nurse practitioner regularly to talk. 

You’re a strong young lady, Kamila. 

-I don’t even know what that means.

March 17, 2004

My braids are burying my eyes as the metal spheres of what appears to be the barrel of an assault rifle sits about a foot from my face in between my ropes of hair

Let me see your hands! 

Pull the covers back! 

Sit up!

Follow me!

The Diary of Anne Frank is a favorite of mine. My books are my family. My life has a way of reflecting the stories I’ve come to know as favorites.

Anne Frank, born June 12, 1929, died in a concentration camp shortly before liberation troops released the surviving  prisoners. The authenticity of her diaries have been called into question as the passages demonstrate the eloquence and imagination of one far beyond her years. 

There’s a rare beauty in a survivor. 

Anne and I have the same birthday.

I.C.E. UNIT 

C.I.A. 

Pennsauken Police 

Can she put on a khimar?

-Agent (I forget his name), go with Kamila to get a—?

(Mom) Khimar, a scarf.

-A scarf

They’ve turned over everything in the house. The kitchen looks like a stampede hit it. They’re in my room, the attic, flipping my bed over. My dhikr beads and Al-Ghazzali’s Book of Death and the Hereafter has its cover ripped off. 

My books are my family.

I’ve got my mother’s Hajj-whites. I don’t know how this is going to end.

They’ve put the guns down and my mother is talking to a C.I.A agent. Looks like they’re ready to talk to me.

Kamila, how old are you? 

-16

Where do you go to school?

-CCP

What’s that stand for?

-Community College of Philadelphia 

Do you know why we’re here?

-No. 

I’m looking around now and Mom’s sitting by me and I can hear my step-dad in the living room being interrogated. They’re allowing me to stay with mom sense I’m a minor. 

(Now looking at Mom)

Your presence is your consent.

As if yours is.

I’m definitely going to give him my ass to kiss.

Do you know why I’m here, Kamila?

-I don’t know why you, or why they, are here. You want to talk to us, I assume. 

I am an agent of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit of the CIA. Do you know what the CIA is?

-An acronym 

Mom’s clearing her throat to say, “Kamila, not right now”.

Your mother and your family have been under investigation for some time now and we have reason to believe she is helping a very bad man do some very bad things.

I’ve just told the man I’m in college, he could at least spare me the Christmas Story. 

Black and white surveillance photos cover the kitchen table. Pictures of me and my friends going in and out of my house, my mom and stepdad and his kids and their friends and family coming and going, as far back as two years.

 Your mother has been charged with aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden.

This is 16.


Alpha 

1987

My mother is weeping in her car. Covered in an oversized flannel and work pants, the warehouse uniform she’s become accustomed to wearing, she’s got her head to her chest to talk to me as I lay in her belly.

She’s working at a packing plant and afraid to lose her job, so she’s hiding her pregnancy. She’s just returned from going AWOL in the previous year to live on the beach in Florida with my dad.   

And today, she’s spotting. She thinks she’s losing me and is balling her eyes out and praying in the car in the parking lot at work. 

“Stay with me. I promise I will give you a great life. Just don’t leave me”

She’s pleading with me. The baby that will renew her faith in humanity. 

My father, her first love, abandoned her upon their return to Philadelphia. She’s 19, alone and terrified. A possible dream deferred, laying wait in her womb. 

She’s thinking of the names they tossed around together. The memories sting.

“Rashida”

-No, sounds like a girl with big earrings

{This may be why I like big earrings…}

“Tunisia”

-No, why not Taneesha? Sounds just like it. 

“Maryaam”

“Hasana”

“Kamila”

-Like Camilla Parker Bold? No.

No, like K-a-m-i-l-a

-Is it an English name?

No, it’s Lebanese for Perfection

Aunt Maryaam, my grandmother’s aunt, was an avid Kahlil Gibran reader. She was an international pianist and had come across his writings in Lebanon while our family was living and performing  there in the 1940s.

Aunt Maryaam had been one of my mother’s most adored humans, so anything she was into, my mother gravitated to or was intrigued by. Kamila Rahmeh Gibran, a mother of four who raised her children alone in the states after leaving Lebanon, had been the object of her illustrious son’s devotion and affection, even after her death. 

1996

Kamila Hasana Ahmad!

-Yes?

How long are you going to let this letter sit here? I keep telling you to write your dad a letter. This is the second one he’s sent since I told you to write him. 

-Tomorrow

It’s been two years since I met my dad for the first time. My mother tracked him down and located him in a Florida prison serving a three year sentence. He’d been bouncing between finding and losing himself in Southern Florida. My mother drove us from Atco, New Jersey to somewhere outside of Orlando Florida to meet my father.

He’s ugly.

-Shhhhh. What? You look just like him.

No. I look just like you. His arms look like boobies.

{His muscles have never gone neglected}.

My dad was waiting in the line of inmates that were scheduled for visitation. I couldn’t figure out why his aura threw me off so much, but I’ve held onto that day and that feeling ever since. 

Dear Dad,

I don’t have any stories this time. I’m too sad to write and I can’t tell you why.

Kamila Hasana Ahmad

My mother respects my privacy. She sends the letter.

1998

“In tonight’s forecast, severe thunderstorms and showers”.

Panting 

Kamila!
-Yes?

Where are you? 

……..

What’s wrong?

{Thunder rumbles outside}

 Allah is going to strike me!

{I’d started having panic attacks the summer I turned 11. Thunderstorms and public places were triggers. I truly believed I was going to die before I turned 12. I was convinced Allah had really given up on me and wanted me dead because I couldn’t fix myself. I was in the midst of four years of abuse that would end right before the panic attacks started presenting themselves. My dad’s letters came less frequently and I started to feel like life was a hoax and I wasn’t a kid. I was 10.}

You’re a child 

-Really?

Glee

Perception 

That you see me in my innocence 

‘Cause I don’t know what it looks like 

I just feel it mostly 

And they want to feel it too 

Confusion, anger and shame laced in a cocktail of adolescence 

You have three holes

No, I have four 

This one, this one, and that one 

And the one in my heart

Late, great 1998 

God Bless you, you sick year 

Thanks.

The Universe had me lose both parents in different ways. I use my last breath of the day to ask my babies what’s up.

Today, I reaped the greatest gift, “Mommy, I love you. Thank you for everything”. Thank You for everything.
Momma, still a strong bond even beyond the depths of realms.
Papa, though you be an occasional friend, you are a reminder and a reflection.
Thank you for being a lesson.
Thank you for being an example of how to be authentically you.
Thank you for the thick skin.
You were the first to show me how to trust a man.
And the first to show me how to be strong when you learn you can’t trust a man.
You have been one of life’s greatest lessons.
My air sign parents.
Full of air, full of life.
Your love story is one for the books. Let’s tell it, you ran away from home as teens to Florida. To live in your car. On the beach. Because screw that, you had all the answers. You didn’t have FB or IG, you didn’t even have Google Maps (God Forbid!) but you had love. Real love, that joined the tides while you bathed away your oppression. You walked together in the pouring rain across the Ben Franklin Bridge. Mom carrying me in her womb, ready to drop. She walked, you followed. More afraid than she was, you thought, but to know my mother was to know she was more afraid than anything, but too brave to give a damn about being afraid. So here I am, cause she was brave enough to keep pushing. Not knowing what was on the other side of the bridge, she kept going, and so did you. And it’s as if you both stood still inside of me. I’m your love in human form. I’m not a diary entry. Thanks.

______ now, I am

I’m not dead 

Fear is paralyzing; the ultimate distraction
That no one has ever, ever been able to afford.
In the arena of my mind, I set fire to the stage and watch Love and

Fear duke it out to be the last one standing on the ashes.

Focus is my Victory.
I can truly hear myself
(((SCREAM)))
Trampling between pride and hunger, I see the pattern

I’m.mortal.
“i-m-m-o-r-t-a-l”
Soul is who aches when I cry and who rejoices at the tears.
The stream is the aftermath.
What’s screaming but Fear shrinking in sight of Heart?
You?
A single vessel, for the moment, her 1000th time saving the world, today.
Sound waves bare witness to your Exodus, forever echoed throughout the Ether.
I’ve given up to be the ashes, the sand in the arena of Love.
Because
I’m.mortal

immortal
Carried away in the wind of my thoughts, I fall, hard, to the floor
Here. Again.
Buried a mile under the sea of ashes with Fear grabbing for my ankles.
Just one pinch
Focus is my Victory,

I can truly hear myself
Bouncing between Hunger and Heart
I see the pattern
Silence is my solace
“I-a-m-i-m-m-o-r-t-a-l”

“Unknown”, now, “I am”

I am immortal