2/29/2008

Stepping Away

Sunset from my balcony today, February 29, 2008.
It's Friday. This was a hard week for me, feeling under the weather and a little sad about some stuff that's going on in my life. I am glad to report that despite some tears I cried this week, there were also some pretty big smiles, caused by some good news from friends and family near and far. Some writing I did made me laugh, too. Consider the woman who spent several days since last Friday in her pajamas, with her shawl around her, and a small blanket on her lap for good measure, with messed up hair and her Kleenex box at hand, sitting at her computer typing and laughing, sometimes so hard she was slapping her knee! I wonder what my kids (and now Iden, too!) think about me! When they move around the house, these days they never know whether they will find me contemplative and serious-looking, crying my eyes out, or laughing to myself like a crazy woman! It has been that kind of week for me.
I was touched by the love and friendship of several people this week; my friends from all walks of life were extra attentive and kind to me, calling me, visiting me, and sending good vibrations my way. Looking as unglamorous as I did, this was also my week to receive calls and visits from my artist friends Rojan, who is a singer from Kurdistan, Vaaleh, who is a singer specializing in spiritual fusion music, and Hamed who is a composer, a singer, and a multi-instrumentalist. Hee Hee, though I didn't look the part for hanging out with local celebrities, I did think again for the millionth time how very fortunate I am for having such good friends! O.K. Enough showing off. I better get on with this post!
I want to tell you another story about my years of coming of age. It is a story about my first male best friend, Mehrdad. I will say it in a separate post soon. Tomorrow will be a good day for me, as I will take a trip to Sacramento with my sisters and niece to visit my younger sister. I am so ready for stepping away for a few hours, where I can put my routine activities aside and hang out with my family. Sacramento is about two hours' drive away from where I live, so it will be a long day trip for me, returning late tomorrow night. Wherever on this planet you live, I urge you to step away from your routine, and to do something a little different this weekend. See your loved ones and let them wrap you in their arms and their love, and do the same for them. Step out and recreate, re-configue, and re-format! Leave your desks, your computers, and your "corners" to step into your friends' and families' corners. Be a little different this weekend, unpredictable and ready to express your love and affection. I'm ready. Have a good weekend everybody and be good y'all.

Ending Winter

Farhad performs Koodakaneh live in Koln, one of his last concerts. This is one of my all-time favorite artists, songs, and performances. I'll come back later tonight to write my Friday post. Have a brilliant day everybody!

بوی گل محمدی که خشک شده لای کتاب....با اینا زمستونو سر می کنم، با اینا خستگی مو در می کنم....بوی باغچه، بوی حوض، عطر خوب نذری، شب جمعه پی فانوس توی کوچه گم شدن، توی جوی لاجوردی هوس یه آبتنی ، با اینا زمستونو سر می کنم، با اینا خستگی مو در می کنم

2/27/2008

Confessions

Flowers of Iran by Shahireh Sharif.
My cousin Mahtab was two years older than me, so when I was 15, she was a voluptuous and daring 17-year-old, expert in the arts of makeup, hair styling, and fashion. She kept failing her classes, and seemed to have no worries about this. The only thing I, the scrawny, late-bloomer that I was, had to show for myself was a loud mouth full of words and smiles and a good pen. Mahtab and I who had grown up together with our other siblings, became partners in crime around this time of our lives. Well, sort of.
Mahtab had met a boy a couple of years older than herself on the street, when she had been looking for a coin to call home on a public phone. The two of them had started a secret courtship which lasted for several years. I used to run to my aunt's house to find a quiet, private corner where Mahtab and I would smoke cigarettes and she would tell me about her boyfriend, Bahman. She seemed so grown-up and worldly to me! The whole concept of a real boyfriend, a stranger, was so awesome to me! A year or so later, on one of my almost daily visits to Mahtab's house, I found her in bed, crying her big black eyes out, telling me that Bahman was leaving Tehran to go live in London, where he was to pursue his education. Mahtab was inconsolable, missing the love of her life already.
A few days after Bahman had left, she called me and asked me to go visit her immediately. I obliged. She showed me a blue aerogramme (do you remember those? A piece of long blue paper which would be folded and sealed to comprise both the letter and the envelope...I am so old!). It was a letter from Bahman. She begged me to read it. It was a love letter, written in a beautiful masculine handwriting, confessing undying love for Mahtab, asking her to write soon. I handed the letter back to Mahtab, asking her if she would like to use some nice writing paper I had with matching envelopes. She shook her head, crying. I asked her what was wrong and she showed me a hundred balls of crumpled paper--letters she had attempted to write to Bahman, hating every one of them because her writing skills were so poor, both in composition and in spelling. She begged me to write Bahman a letter from her. I told her I couldn't oblige, because a love letter was from the person who loved the other person, and I didn't love Bahman in the same way she did, so I couldn't write a love letter to him! She said she would tell me what to write, and all I had to do was to shape it up and make it sound beautiful. For good measure, she told me if I accepted to write her a letter, she would curl my awfully flat straight hair in curlers and style it for me. I pulled out a paper and started writing: "Bahman-e Aziz Tar Az Janam....."
Two years went by like this. I wrote Bahman two or three letters on Mahtab's behalf every week, where she would tell me: "Tell him I love him and I can't wait for him to come home and marry me," and I would write: "Bahman Jan, not a night goes by when I don't dream of you, and not a day when I don't see your handsome face in my mind, and not a second without dreaming of our union one day soon." With Mahtab's reciprocal help and my own eventual growth spurt, I had started to look pretty good, if I may say so myself! My hair was always nice and fluffy, my eyebrows had started to vanish and take shape, much to my mother's chagrin, and Mahtab was teaching me how to use makeup.
Eventually, Bahman came home and came to Mahtab's khastegari, and the lovers got married. I never forget their wedding day. After the formal ceremony, aghd, someone asked the bride and groom what had convinced them to choose each other for marriage. Mahtab said her "certainty of Bahman's love," and poor Bahman said: "all the love letters I received from Mahtab in London, which kept me sane and helped my resolve to come home and marry her." I had to leave the room and go die in a corner with laughter and shame!
This is how I learned to write about other people's feelings. Sorry, I wished I had a more honorable tale to tell, but the saving grace of this confession is that it's true and it was for a good cause--love... A very good cause indeed.

Getting Out!

Zamaneh has published the Farsi translation of the Afshin Mofid story. You can read Part I here, and Part II here.
Feeling somewhat better, I'm off to work this morning. I'm so tired of staying inside and feeling crummy! Hopefully I will last the day at work. After work I will go to visit my oldest sister who is visiting us in the area. I have missed her very much. Fourteen years older than me, she has always been more than just a sister to me. She has alternatively been my second mother, my teacher, my friend, and my confidant in life. It makes me smile to remember that she knew about my first love, and helped me cry my eyes out and talk about my second, and to this day, she listens and commiserates about all the messes I get myself into! Being the "black sheep" of my family, it has been a relief for me to be able to count on her continual support and understanding! So, if I feel better, I will be on my way to feel even better by visiting her! Now, that's something really good to look forward to today. I'll come back and write a proper post later this evening. Be good you all.

2/26/2008

Awake

Children in Kurdistan's Kanda Soora village, February 24, 2008. Photo by Sharooz Sharifinasab, Fars News Agency.
I'm home with a dreadful cold. I stayed away from writing last night, simply because between the cold and the medication I had taken, I was sure I would sound delirious and stupid! This is the second day of work I'm missing, canceling long-standing appointments and meetings I really needed to attend. Though I seldom miss work days, my work life just has to wait until I am better again.
Despite the silly cold, my spirits are good (it's simply amazing what a fistful of drugs can accomplish!). In between the drug-induced naps, I am sitting here thinking about Nowrooz. About my huge spring cleaning project, khooneh takooni, about the cookies and sweets I will have to order, about my sabzeh, the wheat I will have to grow in my big blue plate, and about helping out a few of my single male friends with their haft-sin. My calendar has filled up with events and lectures and celebrations all through the month of March and at this moment it feels overwhelming to think about all that I will have to be doing, but I'm sure when the time rolls in, I'll be ready. Is it just me, or is there something really strange, almost genetically instilled, in all Iranians having to do with the last few weeks of winter? Around this time of the year, I feel an awakening, something almost physical, in the way I feel and think and move! I gear up for the season change, for the change of the year, and for all that is dear and important to me in starting a new day, now rooz. I get filled with memories of Nowrooz's past, my parents and my childhood, and am reminded of every traditional chore my mother used to do around this time of the year. I get excited imagining the fragrance of the hyacinths, sonbol, in my house, and the colorful tulip pots which soon will be lining my walkway. I feel so very alive around this time of the year. Alive and full of hope. Awake, alive, and hopeful, even with a miserable cold.
Go here to see times for Spring Solstice, tahvil-e-sal, in your part of the world. Courtesy of Bahram Maravandi.

2/25/2008

Friendship Song

Mohammad Reza and Homayoun Shajarian perform Morgh-e-Sahar (Bird of Dawn) with Hossein Alizadeh and Kayhan Kalhor in their concert benefitting the Bam earthquate victims in Tehran.

So, this is the third time one of my friends has sent me this video clip, and today is the day that it gets posted in honor of friendship! Fariba, Farideh, and Daisy (on recommendation from her friend, Gity) have each separately shown sentiment for the song. As you recall, I wrote about Morgh-e-Sahar a while back, but posted another rendition of it by Hengameh Akhavan and Mohammad Reza Lotfi back then. Most Iranians have a love affair with this song. Since it was first performed by the first Iranian female vocalist Ghamarolmolook Vaziri, based on a score written by Maestro Morteza Neidavood some 85 years ago, many artists have performed it. It is a song people sing in family gatherings and when they are alone, to themselves! This is an ageless song which never tires me, and it appears that I'm not alone in that feeling, so here we go! Enjoy.
مرغ سحر ناله سر كن *** داغ مرا تازه تر كن
زآه شرر بار *** اين قفس رابرشكن و زير و زبر كن
بلبل پر بسته ز كنج قفس درآ *** نغمه آزادى نوع بشر سرا
وز نفسى عرصه اين خاك توده را *** پر شرر كن

Sunday With Friends

I had lunch with my friends today. Bayramali had made a fabulous Abgoosht for all of us, and we decided it wouldn't do to eat it at a table, hence the beautiful nostalgic Iranian spread, Sofreh on the floor! It was a wonderful day spent in the company of people I really love. My diet forgotten and nostalgia in full operation, I ate all I wanted and made fun of my friends' eating even more than me! We watched the Oscars together and were collectively bummed out that Satrapi's Persepolis didn't win. It was a day spent in Bayramali's impeccable pad, which felt like heaven to me for a few hours. A most memorable Sunday!
Photo by Vahid

2/23/2008

Vartan Sahakian

Ostad Vartan Sahakian, a composer, and a piano master and teacher in Tehran.
My reader, Mohammad, who is a tour guide in Tehran, in one of his excursions in Shahrestanak, near Tehran.
Mohammad would like to introduce his friend, Vartan Sahakian to us. It is best if I just let you read what he has to say about his special friend:
"ِThank you for giving us this chance to communicate our thoughts with you and your readers on what friendship is and who represents to us a good example of a great friendship. I'm so much pleased to say that I have been honored and privileged to have Mr. Vartan Sahakian as the "closest friend" of mine. (My formal tone employed to describe him simply reflects the high regard and the kind of special respect I hold for him ). Herewith, I would like to express my appreciation for the very great person he is to, not only me, but to a whole lot of others who have the complete privilege of knowing him. He is a treasure, an angel of kindness, and a real friend.
I can't simply put all my sense of appreciation for him in this note. He is a great source of inspiration for me, he is a man who stands by you at all times, who “thinks of you when you think he may not be thinking of you”, who is always there to "listen" to you and “identify” with you , who shares so sincerely with you his experiences of life and work and puts his best foot into solving your biggest puzzles and problems of life. I can't simply thank him enough for all he has been to me. I hope I can prove at all times that I deserve his friendship. Dear Nazy, I would like to know if there is anyone among your readers in this blog who are from Tehran AND who have a “piano” AND play it AND who don't know Vartan Sahakian or haven't heard of his name? I'm sure EVERYBODY who has been his student at some point of their lives either in the past or present , would testify to my claim that he is a unique treasure."
Thank you Mohammad Jan, for speaking so honestly about your friend, who seems to be a really decent and wonderful man. I am sure many of my other readers who are active in music in Tehran will recognize him. I recognize him because of his good heart. He is my friend now, too. Thank you for being so generous in sharing a friend and a friendship which is obviously very important to you. Thank you.
P.S. I am a bit embarrassed here! After I created this post, I actually went to do my own research on Vartan Sahakian. What I found was amazing! He is a composer who has written scores for Bahram Baizaee's Sag Koshi (Killing Mad Dogs), and other movies. Here is an interview Radio Zamaneh did with him just recently. Many Iranian singers, such as Homayoun Shajarian, list their training with Mr. Sahakian as a credit to their background. In fact, my own musician friend who lives in the area, Hamed Nikpay, lists his training with Mr. Sahakian as a point of great honor for himself. Mr. Sahakian has also translated several music books into Farsi. My hat's off to this extraordinary Iranian.

2/22/2008

Friendship Week

Banoo Molook Zarrabi sings and plays the Tombak with Anooshirvan Rohani in 1977. She was the first female singer/instrumentalist of Iran. In this video, she was already 70+ years old.

It's Friday. I end a hard but good week. I have heard from good friends, have delivered on several outstanding obligations, have made some decisions I was putting off for a while, and would like to think that I am just a tiny bit wiser than last week.
Today on my lunch break I went for a walk around the block to enjoy the sunshine which had spontaneously broken out of the morning rain, soon to be followed by another storm this weekend. There was a nice breeze which felt so good on my face. I was taking deep breaths of the fresh air, feeling so fortunate to be out in the open air. Right where there was a sea of sunshine and that nice breeze was coming from all directions on a street corner, I stopped and closed my eyes, willing the sun and the wind to caress me and to soothe out my small worries and small pains. It felt so good.
So, I have four young men in the house at this moment, sitting around, watching a basketball game. This is a Friday night and it is a rare occurrence to have them stay in, but I don't mind.
Daisy suggested today that we make this Friendship Week in my blogs. I rather like the idea! Of course in my life, everyday is friendship day and every week is friendship week. What would my life be without my friends? I hear from them on the phone across the seas, on Yahoo and MSN Messengers, in my blogs, in my four email accounts, and in person. Some of them call me several times a day! So, we will make this the Friendship Week. Please talk about what friendship means to you, who your friends are, and how you will celebrate them this week. If you wish, send me your friends' photos and I will feature them. If you want, write a longer post and I will feature it in my blogs. You can dedicate a song, a videoclip, a poem, or anything your heart desires to them here. I am around tonight and most of this weekend, so I hope to answer your kind comments more quickly, and answering my tens (and tens) of neglected emails. Be good you all, think good thoughts, say good words, and dream good dreams. Have a good weekend y'all.

2/21/2008

Discovery Time

Just outside my house on a rainy day.
Before my older son started driving his own car, I used to drive my children around a lot. Those times I spent in the car with them were really good times for me. I could listen to music with them and talk with them, my poor "captive audience!" It seems more and more there is never a time when I drive anywhere with the two of them in my car, and I really miss their company and the resultant stories and lessons I used to learn in the car. I accepted eagerly to give my younger son a ride to college in the pouring rain this morning. The ride was really short, and my passenger being my younger son, the quiet one, I didn't have high hopes of a lively conversation first thing in the morning.
For some reason he asked me if any Iranians work at the Alborz Persian Restaurant in Berkeley. I said: "Yes, two young Iranians work there as waiters." He asked about the kitchen staff and the boss boys. I said I believe them all to be Hispanic. Just thinking about the friendly staff at my favorite hangout in Berkeley, I told him: "And those guys are so nice to me all the time......come to think of it, everyone is always very nice to me.....I think I am very lucky!" In his very quiet and slow way, he said: "Yes, me, too." Something really strange gripped me all of a sudden. My son thinks he is very lucky? Since when? I mean, has he always felt that way or is this something new? Why didn't I know that he feels lucky? Just to be sure I had heard right, I asked calmly: "Really? You feel you are lucky in life?" He replied: "Yes. I even have a four-leaf clover in my wallet." There was silence except for the windshield wipers' sliding across the windshield. My son feels he is lucky and he is superstitious, too? Why didn't I know that? I said: "Wow, a four-leaf clover! Where did you get that?" He said: "My Ammeh Nazy gave it to me in Tehran. Would you like to see it?" I said: "Yes, very much, show me tonight." I started driving the car again very slowly after he had left the car.
As mothers, we feel so knowing about our children's every aspect and characteristic. But past a certain age, there is so much, good or bad, about them which we may not know, leaving room for accidental discoveries about them. All through the day today, I was thinking about my younger son, The Traveler, with his dark unruly long hair always in his eyes, with his funny earrings in one ear and the young beard he refuses to shave and trim, and the too big, loose clothing he likes to sport. That guy thinks he is lucky in life and he carries a four-leaf clover. All day today, I felt strangely lucky to know that guy.

For Serendip

A saffron flower grows in the beautiful soil of Khorasan, Iran. Photo by Khashayar Dabestani, Iranian.com.
And so, she is back! My fabulous friend, Serendip, is back! Those of you who have been reading me longer, know that since April of last year, Serendip used to come and visit me frequently. Of course I love all my readers and I am always delighted to hear from any of them. Serendip, however, is unique in many ways. She was one of the very first visitors I ever had in my blogs, after my blogger friends in the area and Tameshk. She came and always left the most insightful comments for me. She is a highly-educated woman, a scientist, who has love and passion about poetry, music, spirituality, and politics, among other things. Every comment she ever left for me had a lesson of love and compassion in it. Serendip has a mostly political weblog. She keeps abreast of developing news and has her very distinct political views. Where she and I meet, however, there is little politics. We meet and greet each other in that beautiful vast land of humanity, where we talk about love, compassion, the arts, and anything beautiful. When Shobeir had first started visiting me, one day he wrote a comment for Serendip in which he said: "Your blogs are so serious and so cold (referring to the news pieces Serendip posts), but when I see you here, you are a poet, so warm!" Such has been our friendship, full of warmth and human poetry.
Serendip took a hiatus for a few months to be with her loving family. I am so delighted to see her back! Today I received my third message from her in one week, so I know she is back for sure, my refined, artistic, and articulate friend. It wouldn't have done to have welcomed her back in the comments section. I have missed her so much, I had to write her her very own post. Welcome back Serendip! Please stay this time. My older readers have asked after you, wondering what may have happened to keep you away from these parts. I explained to them that this was temporary. I'm glad you're back, my beautiful, unmet friend.

That Love Seems Easy At First

In Zanjan's Sahrain Wildlife Sancturay, a park ranger offers a suger cube (so Iranian!) to a squirrel, February 2008.
I started replying to your kind comments and got most of them done, but not all. I was tired and decided to stop and come back when I can do a good job of this, the best part of blogging in my opinion. It has been a crazy week for me, full of commitments and running around, feeling stressed for looming deadines. It looks like I am almost caught up with most of my commitments. I am exhausted and in need of some solid sleep. I will make another post later in the day.
My friend, Mina, of IranWrites, who is a very sensitive and articulate writer, has written a beautiful post about her pets, three dogs, which is really sweet to read. She has also generously dedicated that post to me. I feel honored. I have had many pets in my life, but I will never forget my sweet dog, Gorgi, and my beautiful cat, Oscar (his Iranian name is Asghar). When I moved to US two years ago, I had to leave my cat with a kind man in Karaj who has been taking care of him since. Animals bring joy and love to our lives, and become our families. I think Mina's description of her special relationship with her dogs is indicative of just how important animals can become in our lives. I found it touching that among the many political and literary reviews Mina writes, she wrote a very personal post about her pets. If you can find the time, go take a look and read her piece. The woman knows how to write! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her dogs, bill clinton, Mercutio, and Ginger.

2/19/2008

An Incomplete Story

Chabahar Coast, Iran, Photo by Hossein Rasekhi, January 8, 2008.
It rained non-stop in Berkeley all day. Coming home, as I was inching forward in traffic, hardly able to see anything, I was listening to the radio and thinking. I was thinking about some writing commitments I have tonight, about the dinner I would have to fix, about the bills I would have to pay, about a phone call I would have to make, and about something I have been needing to write about, which as of this time I still have been unable to write. Going nowhere fast, I decided to start writing the piece in my head.
In my head I wrote it a few times. Each time it wrote itself easily and fluently. In my head it had a solid beginning, a good middle, and an interesting ending. I saw it all written, edited, and typed up, ready to be shared. But when I visualized my name on it, I got distraught and unhappy. I didn't like it one bit! So, again in my head, I re-read it, found it unacceptable, and .....poof....deleted it! Then, still stuck in traffic, still listening to the radio, with nothing to write and nothing better to do, I decided to engage in a little self-discovery! I asked myself why I had deleted the piece, and I wouldn't rest until I got my answer, asking it over and over again. I was so surprised at my eventual, reluctant answer, I started laughing in the car, all by myself! The answer wasn't that I didn't want to be associated with the thoughts and sentiments the piece conveyed, as in the self-censorship to which I am prone sometimes. It was that I simply didn't want my piece to end that way! I wanted it to have a different ending, a better one! How awesome is that?! Certainly, a better ending could be written, even if it weren't true! I'm the storyteller, I can end the story any which way I like! Who could even tell if this were a real story or not? But, I thought to myself, not this story. This is an important story for me, precious and important. I decided to keep the piece and give the ending one more try in real life. Who knows? I might be able to change it! Maybe I just needed to write it and read it and associate it with myself before realizing that this is one story I don't want to end like this. I am seeking a different ending and for that I need some time.
For Leva, who gives my writing courage...and this is for you and Vahid....

2/18/2008

کاما کجاست؟

سلام. بالاخره با کمک لوا بعد از یک سال دیشب موفق شدم نرم افزارم را فارسی کنم و حروف پ و ژ را روی صفحهء کلید پیدا کنم. خیلی ذوق کردم. گفتم یک پست فارسی بنویسم ببینم چه احساسی داره!

پسر بزرگتر من که هم سحرخیزه و هم برعکس من و برادرش صبح ها خیلی سرحال و هوشیاره (کاما کجاست؟) امروز صبح با دیدن من پشت میز و در حال کار باز حرف زدنش گرفته بود. میخواست از آسمون و ریسمون حرف بزنه و من هم وسط کار ترجمه بودم و اصلا نمیخواستم تمرکزم را از دست بدم. بنابراین جوابهای کوتاه و عمومی می دادم (مثل آهان و درسته و ای بابا!) که بتونم کارم را ادامه بدم. بعد از چند دقیقه و چند موضوع مختلف به من گفت: " مامان (کاما) حالت خوبه؟" بهش نگاه کردم. چشمهای خوشگل و براق و مهربونش به من نگاه می کردند و یک گرهء کوچولو مثل یک اخم ملایم ابروهاشو به هم وصل کرده بودن. گفتم:" خوبم. خوب خوب." گرهه آب شد. حرفاشو ادامه داد. این بار دیگه واقعا گوش می کردم. گفت: "من یه چیزی راجع به خودم تازگیها فهمیدم. فهمیده ام که من نسبت به شرایط زندگیم همیشه فقط عکس العمل نشون میدم. یعنی صبر می کنم تا اتفاقات بیفتن (کاما) اونوقت یه کاری می کنم. بعضی وقتها این کار را هنرمندانه انجام میدم! بعضی وقتها خیلی خرابکاری می کنم. از خرابکاری خسته شده ام. می خوام یک کمی فکر کنم و خودمو عوض کنم." گفتم: "خوب اگه صورت مسئله رو بدونی نصف راهو رفتی! اگه راه حلو بدونی سه چهارم راهو رفتی. میمونه یک چهارم. به راه حل نزدیک تر از اونی هستی که فکر میکنی." سرشو تکون داد و رفت. وقتی جوابشو دادم دیگه حرفی با هام نداشت! من وپسرم و کامپیوترم و میز نهارخوری و لیوان چایی—حتی بدون کاما هم روز خیلی خیلی خوبیه. دوشنبهء خوبی داشته باشین.

2/17/2008

Waiting Out The Storm

Boats waiting out a sandstorm at Karoun River Harbor, Ahvaz, Iran, February 2008.
I am preparing for the second anniversary of an important event in my life. It has to do with new beginnings. Two years ago around these same days and weeks, I was so sad. I was facing all kinds of adversities, pains, and losses. I was so lost in sorrow and disappointment, I had stopped looking at myself in the mirror, combing my hair, and smiling. It was as though I was walking a minefield, and wherever I stepped, an explosion was waiting to blow up in my face, and many of them did! I don't know how I walked that minefield in one piece, but I did. I arrived San Francisco all broken up, sad, and feeling low, but determined to start a new life. My family embraced me here, my kids slept in the same house with me again after a long time, and my friends tended to my many wounds, fixing me, and pulling me up on my feet again.
I live a chaotic and at the same time organized life now. I work in a decent institution, where I am close to the best cultural happenings in the Bay Area. I have started writing again, which enables me to express myself and to interact with a group of very interesing people. I have wonderful young friends who keep me energized and engaged. I have a chance again to be close to my children who keep me on my toes and give me a sense of purpose and focus, all the time giving me immeasurable joy. I have a small house which is modest and non-pretentious, but filled in every corner with what my children and I need to feel peaceful and happy. I have a little car, Shabdiz, which gets me from A to B (and on many days to X, Y, and Z!). I have a life which is somewhat complicated to maintain if it weren't for the energy that keeps bubbling inside me, but at the same time easy to enjoy, for the peace of mind it continues to offer me.
Though I am reminded again of the pains I had to endure on the second anniversary of my new beginning, I can't help but feel really happy about how that new beginning has turned out. Those boats in the picture have to come to harbor and wait unattended during a sandstorm in Ahvaz. They may have to sit there for a while for the storm to pass, but soon they will be occupied by their sailors, heading down the gorgeous Karoun River, seeing better days. Sometimes our lives are like that, too. We have to wait out the storm, not just hoping, but knowing and waiting for those better days to come. These days I am waiting out another (very small!) sandstorm, but I feel if I weathered the biggest sandstorms of my life before, I can do it again. And, if necessary, again. And again. I can.

2/16/2008

Somebody To Love

George Michael and Queen play "Somebody To Love," in a concert in 1992, paying tribute to Freddie Mercury. I consider this one of the best live performances ever, singing a beautiful song, in memory of a beautiful man, with a legendary band, and an absolutely fabulous audience. Watch to the end and enjoy! Happy Saturday everyone.

2/15/2008

Celebrating Life

A carpet in progress in Arak, Iran, December 2007.
And so, it's Friday. I have been running around like a mad woman for several weeks, trying to get my dancer piece published. It was published yesterday, and thanks to you and my other readers on Iranian.com, it received spectacular reception. In just under 24 hours, it received some 4,000 visits.
Afshin Mofid is an extraordinary man with an amazing life's story. What did I tell you? Was I right? The truth is that I know I am not even an "average" writer; I am a volunteer writer who likes to experiment with words, writing from her heart. If ever I receive a good reception, it is because of the subjects I cover; they deserve all the credit. From arts and artists to social issues and ordinary people, it is never about me; it is about the people and stories in the center of the story. He was a perfect subject about whom to write. I am so delighted that he is happy and that he approves. That was my mission, and my mission has been accomplished. Afshin tells me that his family have seen the piece all over the world and are very happy for him for finally being reconized for his accomplishments. The only other Mofid I would like to see satisfied with the effort is my beautiful old neighbor, Mrs. Mofid, who is no doubt looking down at all of this with a smile from heaven.
I am tired now. It is a good thing we are entering a three-day weekend in the US, when America celebrates Presidents' Day on Monday. I am going to see my dear friends, trying to recover not just from the story business, but from some other stuff that have had me stumped for a few weeks. I am going to hang on to my friends like dear life and talk, laugh, and dance with them. I am going to spend time with my poor, neglected sisters, nieces, and nephews and let us all cover each other in love, getting spoilt! I am going to spend time with my boys, if they have time for me, to catch up on some of their doings. I am going to live this weekend. Just for me--live like I was just born, and live like there is no tomorrow. I am going to give the biggest, tightest, warmest hugs I have ever given to those I love, kiss the biggest kisses I have ever kissed, and laugh the loudest I have in a while. I don't need flowers, for I buy the most beautiful flowers for myself all the time. I am past needing and appreciating jewlery and nice clothes, for I have owned the very best and I have all that I need now. I am not going to dream of vacations in resorts, as I have done it all. I just want the one thing that has ever meant anything to me in my life, and I have it in my hands and in my heart already, the love and acceptance and trust of those I love and who love me. Wherever they are, I'll be thinking about them and sending them good wishes (including you), or if they are nearby, big smackaroo's on their faces! I am getting ready to celebrate life this weekend. I invite you to do the same. No gifts, no flowers, and no isolated celebrations can ever take the place of a real relationship and a true friendship. Have a good weekend and be good y'all.

2/14/2008

The Lost Legend

Afshin Mofid with Darci Kistler in New York City Ballet's Afternoon of a Faun, 1982.
Three thousand people watched the New York City Ballet performance every night, a performance which invariably ended in standing ovations and a crowd that simply did not want to leave the packed New York State Theater. The promising young ballet dancer took his bows, with each bow intensifying the crowd’s applause and noises of approval and adoration, singling him out as “The Star” of the show.
He was born to a family of artists, poets and writers in 1961. Afshin Mofid was one of two children born to the legendary Bijan Mofid and his wife, Farideh Fardjam, the first female Iranian playwright, prize-winning author, poet, and director. He started ballet training in Tehran when he was nine years old, moving to New York to attend School of American Ballet, becoming the star of New York City Ballet under George Balanchine’s training and direction, and appearing as the star of the New York City Ballet on numerous occasions, nightly packing adoring crowds in the New York State Theater.
While his career and his sensitive and powerful performances in New York City Ballet’s productions were copiously covered in The New York Times and trade publications of note, we never knew about him. It is now time to know about the multi-dimensional and fascinating life of a man with not just one, but hundreds of stories to tell of himself and his accomplished and interesting life.
Afshin Mofid is one of the warmest, most down-to-earth people you would know. He speaks a perfect Farsi, devoid of English words, is affable, articulate, and very funny. He speaks honestly about his achievements, his decisions, his family, his good times and his bad.
"I was nine when I started Ballet in Tehran. I had never seen ballet before in my life. My uncle, Ardavan Mofid, was friends with Bijan Kalantari, who was a ballet dancer and a choreographer himself, and wanted to start the first Iranian ballet company from ground up, entirely with Iranian dancers, hoping to be able to perform internationally. Of the 14 students in the newly founded ballet program at Tehran's Music Conservatory (Honarestan-e-Ali-e-Moosighi), there were 12 girls and only two boys. I was one of them."
This story was published in Iranian.com today. If you can't access it in Iranian.com, you can read the rest here. Please leave any comments you might have primarily in Iranian.com for the artist to see, or here. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My gift to you for Valentine's Day: A "Dessert Menu" in a restaurant in La Jolla, California. Photo by Sara Zahabioun.
So, it's Valentine's Day. As you all know, I talk about love, understanding, friendship, embraces, kisses, and expression of emotions for each other all year round, and especially on Fridays. I think there isn't much to be added to what I usually say on this particular day. This Valentine's Day, how about if you guys talk about love with me? Please leave a comment and say what you think. Tell me what your plans are or how you will celebrate or not. I am all ears. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

2/13/2008

The Boy Who Loved The Mountains

A handmade post card he sent to his mother in Europe.

He started attending the Conservatory (Honarestan-e-Ali-Moosighi) with his uncle and his aunt who went on to become a famous stage actor and director.

Living with his grandparents, his paternal grandfather, a teacher, an actor, the innovator and director of Shahnameh plays (Teatr-e-hemasi), an expert in Shahnameh recitation (Naghali), a calligrapher, and an avid sportsman and hunter, became his role model. His best times were spent hiking and hunting with his grandfather. When he was advised to stay away from football, hiking, and any physical activities which might lead to injuries threatening his ballet career, he was resentful, telling his father that he wished to quit ballet school, and each year at his father’s urging and insistence, he would go back to a higher class at the Conservatory.

Reaching for Stars

In 1977 when he was only 16, on Bijan Kalantari’s urging, his father sent him to New York to attend school and to learn ballet on an international level. Staying with Bijan Kalantari for the first several months, he was attending high school during the day and open ballet classes in the afternoons. He talks about his early years in New York with sweet sadness. With Iran on the brink of a revolution, his small scholarship covering only a cockroach-infested small room in New York City with salsa-playing Peurto Rican neighbors, he was homesick for Iran and for his family.
He auditioned for School of American Ballet in 1978 and was admitted. The prestigious ballet school founded by George Balanchine, the neo-classical ballet legend and Lincoln Kirstein, the New York cultural giant, was the academy established to train and recruit ballet dancers for New York City Ballet.

2/11/2008

Finding Him

I searched high and low for him. I could find some small references to his name in New York City Ballet rosters and dated ballet reviews in The New York Times, but there were no pictures of him, and the few leads I found about his whereabouts were dead ends. I searched his famous father one time, and found the name of a woman writer and translator who was his artistic associate in the US. I contacted Jahanshah and asked him if he knew this woman and where I could reach her. He said she lives in Austin, Texas, and forwarded her email address to me. I contacted her, telling her that I was looking for this ballet dancer and whether she could help me find him. The wonderful woman immediately wrote back, giving me his email address. I had to sit down and think about what to do with it now! Several days later, I found the courage to write to him, introducing myself, and telling him about my association with his grandmother and my search for him. He wrote back soon:
Dear Nazy,
No need to apologize for wanting to write about me. I am flattered! I mean, who wouldn't like someone tracking them down and wanting to write about them?!! Maybe I could be famous for another 15 minutes after your article! But seriously, I don't mind it at all. My career as a dancer in New York was at its peak during the early years of the Revolution and consequently not a lot of Iranian immigrants in this country were in a position to even care about such things as ballet or the fine arts in general. So I have been unknown to most. This has always been a sore point for me (but without blaming anyone and understanding the time frame), because even though I received praises from the audiences here and had articles written about me from Newsweek to the Times, there has not been any mention of my work anywhere in the Iranian media be it Farsi or English and no recognition form my own people. So I welcome and appreciate you for wanting to do this. How interesting that you were my beloved grandparents' neighbor! I miss them very much. Was this at the apartment in Vanak? Anyway. You can get in touch with me either by mail or call me on my cell phone or at home.

2/10/2008

City of Tales

My parents, my oldest sisters, and even my sister who was only two years older than me were all dressed up to go see the play, Shahr-e-Ghesseh (City of Tales) in Tehran. They wouldn't take me. "No little children are allowed." I couldn't understand what made my older sister eligible and not me! I begged, I stumped my feet, and I cried, but it was no use. They wouldn't take me. Later that year, my father bought the gramophone record of the play for me and brought it home to make up for the hurt I had felt that night. Years later I watched it on television, and for years to come, its recording became a part of my nearest and dearest possessions, traveling the world with me, wherever I went. To this day, every now and then, I pull out the CD and play it to myself in the car, treating myself to a true story. The most unforgettable Iranian musical, now a part of Iranian tradition and memorabilia. There continues to live a sadness in me that Bijan Mofid had to die so young; that he didn't stay around to enjoy the fact that his creation has continued to live on for 40 years. Even when I ask young people whether they have heard Shahr-e-Ghesseh, they tell me they have. What other piece of music, art, or Iranian culture do I know that has reached so many Iranians inside and outside Iran across all ages? In writing and directing his Shahr-e-Ghesseh, Bijan Mofid created what is likely an artistic miracle in every sense of that word. My mind is brimming with memories and nostalgia about him and about Shahr-e-Ghesseh these days. Listen here.

A Shortened Wish List

Yippee! I have managed to clean up my garage! I know its organization still leaves something to be desired, but take a look at what it looked like only this morning. You might remember that cleaning up the garage was on my New Year's Wish List. I enlisted my younger son and Iden's help to get it done. They helped, and swept, and took out the junk to our local recyling center.
Everyday I went to get my car, it felt bad to walk through this junk and every night I came home, I had to face it. I am so glad my burst of energy made me do it.
So, let's see now. Of the things on that New Year's Wish List, at least one, almost two have been crossed! I have also managed to lose 10 pounds since January 1st. Please don't ask me about the other things I promised to do, because some of them not only have not been accomplished, they have worsened since New Year's. I will keep at it. For now, I keep running out and peeking at my clean garage! I feel so accomplished! Let me treat you to the song we were listening to as we were working. It served many purposes for me today. It's called "You Can't Hurry Love," by Phil Collins. My mama said you cant hurry love, no, you'll just have to wait, she said love don't come easy.................

Fusion

Tomato harvest in Boushehr's Sana Village, February 2008 (I have cropped this picture).
Another beautiful, sunny day is here, and my work on neglected affairs around me continues. A burst of energy has turned me into a whirlwind of activity, and it seems I can't stop myself, not just yet! The thoughts in my head seem to be fueling the burst of energy with good, happy, hopeful thoughts and some not so happy ones, the result having some type of fusion effect inside me, making me get up and do things to shoo away thoughts and feelings I don't like. I welcome the effect. It beats sitting down and smoking and feeling down. I passed out so tired last night and woke up late this morning, obviously having needed the sleep that had been illusive all last week. I have many more things on my list today, and I'm crossing things out as they get done. Later this evening, I will come back and say some more. Have a good Sunday you all, wherever on this tiny speck in the universe you are. Think good thoughts.

2/09/2008

Working Saturday

A flower bouquet in a country house in the outskirts of Paris, December 2007. Photo by sweet Mersedeh.
It looks like the California winter is almost behind us. Today is sunny and breezy, feeling warmer than it has in a while. All three guys are off to work and library, and the house is all mine again. I'm listening to my "work music," which is intended to make me inspired to move and to do things, and I could really use some inspiration to move and do things today! Looks like I will have to make this the day I will get organized around here. Anything and everything around me seems to need some kind of attention and I will have to go to it! This "work music," I am embarrassed to say, is rather light on the artistic value, but it does fit the purpose for me. Jay-e- Bayramali Khali, to tease me about listening to this and to offer his song interpretations! I'm laughing as I reach for that broom! Have a happy Saturday you all. If the mood stays with me, I'll come back and write again later tonight. Dokhtar Tehrooni, divoonam kardi....!

2/08/2008

In My Pink Sweater

Nasim Arbabi plays the Kamancheh at Fajr Music Festival, December 2007.
It's Friday. So, I hope I didn't worry you too much with my "spicy" story! Judging from your kind comments and the sweet emails sent my way today, it looks like I might have! I'm good as new and back to the business of life! What did I tell you? True, a part of me still aches for something that was important to me, and will need a bit of time yet to develop its spice (!), but on we go.
I was all set to roll out my story beginning tonight, finishing my posts by Sunday, and publishing it on Monday. Some small things have been delayed, and alas I can't do it this weekend. I'm so sorry for disappointing you. You see, there were no pictures nor videoclips of this dancer's amazing works. We have had to scan photos, apply for copyright permissions and VHS to DVD conversions, and now that I have the DVD, I can't upload the clips, because it hasn't been saved in tracks, and I don't have film editing software (yes, he and I have had to do all of that by ourselves--I told you, we are "uncovering" a gem!). While I run around, enlisting assistance to get it done, we will have to wait. Sorry. I usually try to keep my promises, but I was unsuccessful this time.
I know this will not make up for it at all, but I want to share a videoclip of Nava Aharoni, an Israeli dancer (I believe she is of Iranian descent), who dances a Persian dance. It is called Miniature, and in it she depicts Persian Miniatures in different poses. Watch it on YouTube here and if you can't access YouTube, watch it here. It is interesting in that it is choreographed a little differently. Take a look.
All of their own accord, my children fed me dinner tonight, made me tea, washed the dishes, took out the garbage, and were super affectionate to me. Honestly, I don't know where that surge of affection came from! I even got compliments on my pink sweater and a few kisses on the head, most unusual! I think it is a very good day when some unsolicited and unexpected kindnesses come our way. This weekend, you might wish to try it, too. Make dinner for your parents and kiss them whichever way feels good to you and to them! Treat the kids around you to unexpected ice cream and kisses, too! Wash a loved one's car of the grime of recent rain and snow. Be random and be unexpected, but do show your love to a few this weekend. I am sitting here in my pink sweater, smiling and typing, feeling super special! So rest assured, it works! Have a good weekend and be good y'all.

2/07/2008

Spice of Life

Spice Shop Display in Mashad's Bazaar. Photo by Shahireh Sharif.
Bloggers are forever struggling with themselves and with each other on whether or not they are honest and forthright in expressing their thoughts and feelings in their blogs. Sometimes people talk about their most intimate, personal things in their blogs. Some bloggers never discuss anything personal. Sometimes a blogger complains that she is a prisoner to the unreal "image" she thinks her blog is promoting of her. I mostly read and listen to these conversations and arguments, unable to add much. My weblog is my space. To the extent that I feel comfortable and happy, I talk about my personal details in it. What I don't feel like sharing with a large audience, I don't. I do use my own name with enough details about myself that I am easily traceable and verifiable. That does not feel restrictive to me. In fact it feels liberating to me.
Just like anybody else, I have good days and bad days. I have days when I laugh like a maniac, and feel playful and energetic all day. There are days when I am sad or reflective or weepy, because of some feelings or some events. I don't want to pretend that I am this manic, hyper middle-aged woman who is always "up," or pretending to be "up." To the extent that I feel comfortable, I tend to share those feelings. Some days when I am down or tired or for whatever reason not in my usual story-telling mood, I post things which won't make me talk about those feelings. Today would have been such a day. But instead, I will talk about it a little bit.
This was not a very happy day for me, and I just don't want to pretend to anything. Without trying to sound like a Hallmark card or some godawful self-help book, I just want to say that in my life's experience, sadnesses, tears, and even wails of pain and sorrow are spices of life. They sit right next to that howling laughter, that all-teeth smile, that fabulous gait in someone's walk and that inspiring dance move, affectionately known as gher-e-kamar. Without one, the other one will lose so much meaning and significance and hope and reflection, all necessary elements in an individual's life, becoming compromised and lessened. I may not love my sad days (well, I do hate them), but I accept them as real days of my life, using them to create a sense of equilirium in my life. When my children were younger, they never saw me cry, because seeing an adult cry is a very frightening and confusing image for a child. Since they are young adults now, more and more I feel comfortable talking to them and letting my tears drop in their presence. They still hate it, but somehow they understand it and get mobilized to help and to reach out. That's a good skill for them to learn now, I believe. They will need to learn to console and caress crying friends and girlfriends and wives and children soon enough. I had some spice in my life today. Yes, a very spicy day. Tomorrow will be better and I will not taste and remember the tears, but the wonderful taste and the hot colors of spices. I'm sorry I would like to postpone replying to your kind messages until tomorrow night when I am sure I will feel happier and more jazzed up with the story you will finally hear. Do be good y'all.

2/06/2008

The Beautiful Old Lady Next Door

The beautiful old lady told me in Tehran: "Nazy Khanoom. I have a grandson who is a ballet dancer.....in New York." She reached behind her chair and from tens of pictures of several members of her family performing onstage, picked up a black and white picture and handed it to me. My eyes rested on a handsome young man in great form in ballet attire. There was something really amazing about the young man's eyes. He was looking directly at the camera, with a sense of purpose, with great poise, and with haunting eyes.
Among the thousands of memories I have kept in my head and in my heart, that day, that little chat over tea, that lovely old lady's face filled with pride, and the picture of that young dancer, found a spot and became lodged. It was another 14 years before I pulled that memory out of my head and got started looking for the dancer. I looked and I searched, and I couldn't find him. But the memory wouldn't let me forget him. I wanted to find him. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to know why he was lost to the rest of us. I wanted to know why he wouldn't make an effort to be found. I wanted to know about him and feel proud, for he was not only that young man in the picture, he was the one looking at whose picture had brought a huge tear drop of sadness and pride to the old lady's eyes. I wanted to find him and tell him that. I searched and searched until I found him. He now wanted to be found. I told him my story. He told me his.

زلف بر باد مده

Let not the wind into your tresses or I will go into the wind
Let not seduction be your way or I will lose mine
Drink not with any old contender or I will drown in pain
Savor not your wine or I will turn red in sobriety
Lock not your hair or I will be locked in remorse
Twist not your hair or I will get twisted
Become not the rival's friend or I will become mad with rivalry
Feel not for others or I will cease to feel
Open your face and I won't need a flower
Stand tall and I won't need the air of heights
Paint not the town red or I will shed blood for tears
Cherish not the other's company or I will perish
Steal not the limelight or all light will leave me
Ogle not or I will melt beneath your gaze
Be kind to this poor suitor and come to my aid
For me not to appeal to the Messenger
Hafez will never turn away from you
For he became free the day he was entrapped by you.
"Hafez"
I'm listening to Mohsen Namjoo. My heart is listening.

Speechless in Fooman

Koloocheh shop in Fooman. Photo by Mr. Zeighami. I'm so embarrassed I can't remember where I got this picture. I promise to look for the source and fix this oversight soon. In the meantime, you should know that Koloocheh Tafazzoli is the best in Fooman. I used to stop by and buy them fresh and piping hot. Fooman is a lovely little town in Gilan with breathtaking nature surrounding it.
On a Sizdah-Be-Dar several years ago, I went for a day trip to Gilan's Fooman. All over the Fooman marketplace, there were piles of lettuce, vinegar, and sekanjebin (sweet mint syrup, an accompaniment to raw lettuce), presented to the public. I entered a handicrafts shop. I looked around. There were many items from Isfahan and Shiraz and Zanjan on display, but I couldn't identify any authentic Gilani or Foomani items. I asked the gentleman store owner whether there were any Fooman handicrafts available. He pointed behind him to row after row of colorful handmade lofah's (leef) on display. He said in his sweet Gilak accent: "Dokhtara ina ro dorost mikonan (The girls make these.)." I asked him to show me which ones his daughters, the girls, had made. He looked at me confused. He said: "My daughters?" I said: "Yes, you said 'the girls' made these." He said: "I said 'the girls' made these; I didn't say my daughters made these. My daughters are studying medicine and political science in Germany and US." I was so embarrassed. I bought two blue lofah's and left quietly. I still have them. I miss Fooman today.

2/05/2008

Voting Tuesday

Today was California Primary Elections Day. I went to vote in the polling station near my house. Earlier, I had received a notice in the mail, telling me where to go. So, before I went in to work, I went and voted. Any elections day has always been a very exciting day for me, whether in Iran or in the US. The right to vote is a right of which many nations in the world are still deprived. Many people in the world continue to struggle for the right to vote, sometimes giving this struggle their lives. To vote is to be heard and counted. Today was a day when my voice was heard and counted. The Recreation Room of a housing complex near my house had been turned into a polling station.
These people are volunteers who work at the polling station. I always thank them for their time and for the help they give the State during elections. Each time I say "I will volunteer next time," but I never get around to it. So I have utmost respect for those who give the important task their time and attention without "khalibandi!"
They checked my name on the list, gave me a ballot in a folder (Democratic and Republican and I suppose Independent ballots are printed separately, and because when I had registered as a California Voter I had declared that I vote Democratic, they gave me the Democratic ballot in that blue folder.)
I could choose to vote on a machine or by pen on paper. I chose to do it with a pen, so I was guided to this "booth."
This is Leo, a disabled American on a wheelchair who volunteers to work at the polling station. Last time I went to vote, I had met him. He monitors the ballot box to his right, making sure the ballot is fed properly into the machine. When I submitted my ballot, Leo gave me a sticker which said: "I Voted." I thanked the volunteers and left. It took under 10 minutes, even with taking the pictures and all.
By law, each individual can take up to two hours of paid leave to go vote. I was at my desk a lot sooner, even though I did stop to pick up my double cappuccino and three Madeline cookies, my daily breakfast.
At noontime in downtown Berkeley, as in everywhere, there were people encouraging others to go vote for their candidate of choice. This woman's recommendaion was Barack Obama.
The polling stations are open until 8:00 p.m. today. So it was no surprise to see this older lady advertising for Obama on a busy street corner at 6:00 p.m. tonight. This is probably one of the most exciting elections in years. Everyone I knew voted today.
My afternoon was spent in a large unit-wide staff meeting, which was interesting and exciting in its own way. I may write about that some other time. Tonight I will continue on final changes on my story and go to bed early, if I can help it. I'm around, if you leave me messages, I will reply quickly tonight. Take care everyone and have a good one y'all.

2/04/2008

Monday's Riches

Flower bush on the sidewalk, Sunday, February 3, 2008.
My co-worker, Darnell, tapped on my closed door this morning and came in. In his hands he had $75 which he extended to me. I looked at him confused until I remembered that I had participated in the office football pool for yesterday's Superbowl game. Hee Hee. The box with my name in it had the final score's numbers on it! Darnell said to me: "You are so lucky, Nazy!" I smiled to myself thinking of a thousand more reasons for which I am lucky, which Darnell doesn't know. Later in the afternoon I went out and bought a huge cranberry tart for $25, and treated the office to some of their own money! I could afford it, for I was a rich girl today!
On the drive home, I was thinking about luck. I was thinking that sometimes when I am not particularly looking for miracles, for good news, or for surprises, I somehow unexpectedly stumble over them. I suppose that makes me lucky. Take a look at one of the pictures I took on my walk yesterday. Isn't it just a beautiful flower? Isn't that color just so vibrant and full of life? It is a beautiful picture, if I may say so myself! But the beautiful flower is not the most important thing about this picture. Take a look at the small blossom to the left of the flower. Do you see that tiny speck of yellow on it? It is a brand new flower petal, trying to get out! It's as though it is impatient and can't wait to bloom and get out to look at the world! It's as though this one tiny fragile petal is trying to peek and see the world and go tell its other friends its observations about it! I am so lucky, because I took that picture, and I saw that tiny speck of a yellow petal in it! You know, this probably means that the chaos and deadlines and commitments and obligations which comprise my daily life haven't deprived me of the power to see things like that yet! I can still see. I am lucky. I am rich.

2/03/2008

Feeling Sunny

The sun comes out amidst gathering clouds, Sunday, February 3rd, 2008. View just outside my house. Photo by moi!
My brain was fried today! I had been sitting at my computer for the entire weekend, minus sleeping hours, working on my story. My niece came and dragged me out for a brisk walk on a cold, windy, but oh so sunny day. I walked and breathed and felt the sun on myself. I also talked to my niece, Yassi, about my life, my joys and my struggles. She listened as she always does, the daughter I never had, my best friend.
In a way, I accomplished little today. In another, I accomplished something really important, a personal challenge of mine which has had me preoccupied with responsibility for months. The first draft has been sent off for review. If all goes well and when I receive my supporting material, photographs and videoclips, I'll be ready to publish it. Here's the opening paragraph from my first draft on the amazing Iranian dancer. Tell me what you think. Be good y'all.
Three thousand people watched the New York City Ballet performance every night, a performance which invariably ended in standing ovations and a crowd that simply did not want to leave the packed New York State Theater. The promising young ballet dancer took his bows, with each bow intensifying the crowd’s clapping and noises of approval and adoration, singling him out as the "star" of the show.

2/02/2008

Saturday In Pajamas

Bruce Springsteen sings "I'm on Fire" in Paris in 1985.

Ha Ha, there was something very liberating about staying home all day on a rainy Saturday in my pajamas, working on my story! It feels good to have accomplished as much as I did with the amazing dancer's story after such a long time. I want to be done with it by tomorrow. The boys and their friends are off to the City again, and I have the quiet house to myself, listening to the rain again. I know this must sound just so boring and so middle-aged to you, but I waited all this past week for this day and did exactly as I pleased, a valuable fringe benefit of being middle-aged and single! I did have my talk with sweet Shervin, who came and watched a ballet videoclip with me, listened to Shahr-e-Ghesseh with me some, and listened to my unsolicited advice politely, defending his points of view honestly and vigorously. All I could do was to ask him to think about the stuff I was telling him, and he said he would (though now I wonder how seriously he would have taken me sitting here in my pajamas!). It was a very productive day, exciting in its own unique way. I wanted to post a rain song, but decided instead on a fire song! Have a good evening you all.

2/01/2008

Friends

My friend, Hadi, outside my office today at noon.
It's Friday. As usual, I will talk about friendships tonight. Before I talk about them too generally, however, I want to talk about them a little more specifically. I would like you all to meet my friend, Hadi. Hadi was the first "new friend" I met in the new life I have been living over the past two years. He and I met in Dr. Taheri's Persian Literature class on "Adabiat-e-Mashrooteh." He works on campus, so he and I see each other regularly, talk on the phone, or have lunch together. He is from Mashad, but came to US when he was only 14, so there was a lot he still hadn't learned about Iran and being an Iranian. Hadi has taught himself how to be a good Iranian. For example, he takes pride and immense discipline in teaching himself advanced Farsi literature, memorizing poems and discovering new poets. He is an engineer during the day and teaches private Farsi classes to his friends' kids on some evenings. Hadi is kind and generous and extremely ba marefat. Three times over the past two years I was stuck somewhere with an emergency or dilemma, and didn't know whom to call. Hadi is the one I called, and he came and "rescued" me! When I had that horrible accident on Highway 24, I called him all shaken up and more than a little disoriented. He came and got me and talked to the police officer and the tow truck driver. He is a very good man, a good Iranian, and a wonderful friend. Though usually silent, I know he reads me all the time, because when I ask him where he has been, he says "I know you have been O.K." When I jumped out of my office today to take a picture of him, he wouldn't stand still, and it took several tries to get this photo. It is very descriptive of his character, I think.
My kids' friend, Shervin, is here from Iran. My kids are so excited. Shervin has a girlfriend he loves in Iran, so it's hard for him to stay here long enough to get used to his American life. Every so few months he gets in a plane and goes to Iran to be near her. He is 22, and has already gone to her khastegari three times, each time hearing a big, fat NO from her parents. We will see how long he lasts here this time. When I see him I'll talk to him about the importance of an education, patience, and doing things at the right time. I'm sure my kids will not appreciate my fozooli, but I will do it, because I have my own friendship with this young guy.
Remember, appreciate, and honor your friends this week if you can. Many times in our lives, when we are too desperate to brave explaining things to our families, we reach out for our friends, the ones who are there to listen, to come, and to help. Take pictures of your friends, call them, invite them to your home and make them some tea. Take comfort in remembering that adult friends are a big asset in an individual's life--the ones who will tell you things the way they are, braving your anger and anguish, but staying by your side, doing you a service. If you like, send me your photographs of your friends and I will post them to honor them. My friends have saved me from insanity more than once. It's true, they have danced, eaten, and partied with me a thousand times. But they came to my parents' funerals, to visit me in hospitals, to Vozara Complex to pick up my son, to collect me from an airport all broken and desolate, or rushed to my side when I called them in the middle of the night, sobbing and telling my incoherent tale of sorrow. Friends are important. Without them, we would be lonely and short of an important piece of ourselves and our identities. Call them, see them, kiss and hug them, surprise and photograph them, and show them your love. Have a fabulous weekend and be good y'all.