Joy Found

Two young musicians, Aida Shahghasemi and Amirhossein Kiani, perform Kisses of Rain, Booseh haye baraan, at a concert in Minnesota. The original song composed by Master Hossein Alizadeh, on a priceless love poem by Mohammad Reza Shafie Kadkani, was performed by Mohammad Reza Shajarian.

I think this is the ultimate Iranian love song. This performance by the two young artists is touching and reminiscent of so many memories for me.

Is there any such thing as "love lost?" I mean, when we love someone and that relationship ends, is that love lost? I used to think it was, and I used to mourn it. Somehow I missed it so much, I used to get sad over its loss. These days I'm re-thinking past love affairs of my life. I think in each of them, I didn't "lose" anything, but I "found" something, something that will never be lost, for that love was beautiful, bold, exciting, and valuable for as long as it lasted. Why mourn it? Why get sad? It added something to me in depth and experience, and as such it should be remembered with joy and happiness and a feeling of wealth and not loss. Here's to all my past loves, wherever they are now. A big piece of those men continues to live in my heart and in my life. That is joy found, not love lost. That's what I think.

Happy Sunday everybody. Please share your love songs with me if you care.


Merry Christmas!

My favorite American singer of all time, Bruce Springsteen sings "Santa Claus is Coming To Town," at a 2007 Paris concert with E Street Band.

It's Christmas Eve. My little house holds all that is near and dear to me in this world, my two sons and their friends, good music, and a lot of cheer and hope. My little broken record here would like to encourage you all to love your kin and lovers like there is no tomorrow. Kiss them, hug them, and tell them you love them as many times as you can. The best things in life are always the simplest ones. A few words, a good gaze, a warm embrace, and a little care are all free and simple gifts you can give each other. Go do it! Merry Christmas!

Christmas, Khatami, Ahmad, and I

My younger son helped me set up our Christmas tree again this year.
It feels like it was only yesterday when I wrote here about Christmases past in Tehran. Today I remembered another memory of my days in Tehran.
I remember the first Christmas Mohammad Khatami had been elected President. Iran was a rainbow of joy and hope, and Tehran was hosting the Organization of Islamic Countries’ Summit in December 1997. I left a meeting in downtown Tehran, hailed an orange taxi cab, and asked the cab driver whether he could spend an hour or two, taking me around Tehran to buy some things. He agreed. He was a middle-aged man who was dressed in what we would consider “laat-e-kolah-makhmali” attire. His coat was resting on his shoulders with his hands free from the sleeves. The back of his shoes had been pushed inside, and in his hands he sported a green rosary with which he was playing as he drove his Paykan. True to form, he also had a black felt hat on. He had kind eyes and a deep Tehrani accent, complete with lingo that was reminiscent of old Iranian movie characters.
I told him I needed to pick up a Christmas tree first. He took me to the Armenian neighborhood of Tehran just below Takht-e-Tavoos Avenue and helped me carry the tree and secure it in the trunk. On our way to my next destination, he and I started talking about politics. I told him I had watched President Khatami receive his foreign counterparts at the airport that morning. I told him how impressed I had been with him. He looked at me in the mirror and asked me what about the President had impressed me. I told him I didn’t really know. Maybe it was that he seemed to be speaking to the arriving leaders easily, in English? In German? In Arabic?, and that he was acting “stately,” something I hadn’t seen before. I told him also that even in his clergy outfit he seemed lithe and somehow contemporary, belonging to today. Maybe it was because he wasn’t wearing sandals, I guess.
The cab driver kept moving his rosary in his hands and looking at me in the rearview mirror. He asked me gently: “Really? You are obviously a woman who has seen more than life in Tehran. Do you really think that a president who can chit-chat in a language other than Farsi is impressive? Or one who wears regular shoes? Does that make him a good president?” He said: “I feel so sorry for my country. Who would have thought there would come a day when knowing a second language at conversational levels or wearing shoes would be considered impressive?” I was so embarrassed. The “laat-e-kolah-makhmali” cab driver didn’t look so laat anymore! I asked him his name and his background. He told me his name was Ahmad and that he had a master’s degree in political science from Tehran University. He had been a teacher before he had been dismissed because of his political beliefs. We talked a lot more about a lot of other things before I bid him goodbye, tree and turkey and fruits in hand. I learned a few important lessons about myself, about life, and about Iranian politics from him that day. Those lessons have only become bolder and more important with time.
Merry Christmas!


Namjoo and Writing

I found this live recording of an unknown music session by Mohsen Namjoo, in which he sings Jabr-e Joghrafiaee (I translate the title into Georgraphically Challenged). I love this man and his music. I love this song and its lyrics.

It's a rainy, lazy Sunday. I'm listening to music and writing. My sons are sleeping in after a long Yalda celebration last night. I celebrated with dear friends, too, going to bed at 4:00 a.m.! I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying your day. Rest and love and eat and celebrate life as much as you can. This might be a good day to give someone you really love a quiet but sturdy hug! Enjoy your day!


The Longest Night

A Yalda spread. Photo from here.
A beautiful crystal bowl, filled with clear water sat in the middle of the coffee table in my parents’ living room. It was surrounded by bowls and plates of fruit, dried nuts and candy, Ajeel, pastries, seeded pomegranates, and bright red watermelon. My mother’s silver candlesticks had fresh candles in them, giving the room a poetic glow. My father’s old Hafez sat prominently on a side table, untouchable by the rest of us, waiting for him alone to announce the appropriate moment. My brother played his setar and its sweet sound warmed up the group sitting around him.
It was Yalda, the longest night of the year at winter solstice. A young boy, my nephew, picked up the water bowl and started making the rounds around the room. Each person he faced made a wish, and dropped a small sign, a ring, a coin, an earring, into the bowl of shimmering clear water. Once everyone’s sign was put in the water, he returned the bowl to the table. My father picked up his Hafez, prayed, and opened a page. He would start reading the poem aloud. Everyone listened. Nobody knew whose fa’al this was…yet. After he was done, the young boy would close his eyes and reach inside the water bowl, pulling out one of the signs and hold it up. That is when we knew in response to whose wish Hafez had just spoken. Everyone exclaimed and laughed, talking about the poem. Then my father would open his Hafez book again to read another poem, and we would all listen, waiting to find out whose poem it was this time, until everyone’s was done.
Yalda, the long night of memories, the night of sweet poems, the night of hope, the night of the purest Iranian celebration, is the year’s sweetest and warmest and most beautiful night for me. Happy Yalda.


For Hossein Derakhshan

Following is an open letter in protest of circumstances surrounding the arrest of Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian blogger who has been detained in Tehran for over a month now. If you wish, please publish it in your blogs and leave your name in the comments section. I will pass it along to be added to the list of those who have signed it. Thank you.
We, the undersigned, view the circumstances surrounding the Iranian authorities' arrest of Hossein Derakhshan (hoder.com), one of the most prominent Iranian bloggers, as extremely worrying. Derakhshan's disappearance, detention at an unknown location, lack of access to his family and attorneys, and the authorities' failure to provide clear information about his potential charges is a source of concern for us.
The Iranian blogging community is one of the largest and most vibrant in the world. From ordinary citizens to the President, a diverse and large number of Iranians are engaged in blogging. These bloggers encompass a wide spectrum of views and perspectives, and they play a vital role in open discussions of social, cultural and political affairs.
Unfortunately, in recent years, numerous websites and blogs have been routinely blocked by the authorities, and some bloggers have been harassed or detained. Derakhshan's detention is but the latest episode in this ongoing saga and is being viewed as an attempt to silence and intimidate the blogging community as a whole.
Derakhshan's own position regarding a number of prisoners of conscience in Iran has been a source of contention among the blogging community and has caused many to distance themselves from him. This, however, doesn't change the fact that the freedom of expression is sacred for all not just the ones with whom we agree.
We therefore categorically condemn the circumstances sourrounding Derakhshan's arrest and detention and demand his immediate release.
ما امضا کنندگان ذیل، شرایط دستگیری حسین درخشان، یکی از سرشناس ترین بلاگرهای ایرانی، توسط مقامات ایران را به شدت نگران کننده می دانیم. ناپدید شدن، حبس در مکانی مجهول، عدم دسترسی به اعضای خانواده و وکلای مدافع، و اعلام نکردن اطلاعات شفاف در خصوص موارد اتهام احتمالی نامبرده همگی باعث نگرانی ما ست.
جامعه وبلاگ نویسان ایران یکی از فعال ترین و بزرگترین جوامع اینترنتی جهان است. از شهروندان معمولی تا رییس جمهور ایران، بسیاری به امر نوشتن در وبلاگهای مختلف مشغول اند. این وبلاگ نویسان دارای طیف وسیعی از عقاید و آرا هستند و نقش مهمی در
مباحث اجتماعی، فرهنگی، و سیاسی ایفا می کنند.
متاسفانه ظرف سالهای اخیر، وبسایت ها و وبلاگهای متعددی به صورت منظم توسط مقامات ایران فیلتر شده و شماری از وبلاگ نویسان با آزار و حبس روبرو شده اند. بازداشت حسین درخشان تنها آخرین نمونه از این نوع برخوردها ست و به نظر می آید این اقدام در راستای ایجاد رعب و واداشتن وبلاگ نویسان به سکوت طراحی شده است.
مواضع حسین درخشان در خصوص تعدادی از کسانی که بدلیل عقایدشان زندانی شده اند باعث رنجش جامعه وبلاگ نویسان ایرانی بوده و همین موجب شده بسیاری از آنان از وی دوری بجویند. با اینهمه، این موضوع این حقیقت را نفی نمی کند که آزادی بیان حقی مقدس است و باید برای همه در نظر گرفته شود، نه فقط کسانی که با آنها موافقیم.
بنابرین، ما از این منظر، به طور اصولی شرایط دستگیری و بازداشت حسین درخشان را محکوم می کنیم و خواهان آزادی فوری او هستیم.
Arash Abadpourhttp://kamangir.net/
Pedram Moallemianhttp://www.eyeranian.net/
Ali Moayedianhttp://payvand.com/


The Loving Snow-woman

My blogger friend, sweet Robert in Germany had promised to share a picture of his snowman in the house of his childhood when it snowed this year. He has made his snowman and has kindly shared its photo with us. Here it is! The surprising twist is that it is a sassy-looking snow-WOMAN! I love the smile and the arms raised in preparation for a hug! Her hair is awesome, too! What a great way to start a day. Absolutely lovely. Thank you Robert! Have a beautiful day everybody and stay warm!
P.S. I fixed the link on the videoclip on yesterday's post. Do take a look. It's one of the funniest things I have ever seen on YouTube!


Off to Monday!

Five-year-old Daryon, is caught while trying to eat a popsicle for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. Simply precious! I don't know this child, but having raised children myself, I think I know him quite well! Brace yourselves and enjoy! (Sorry, it's in Farsi. If anyone is interested in knowing what is happening, just drop me a line and I will explain.)

Have a nice week everybody!


Sunshine and Onions

Picture of food prepared at Alborz Restaurant in Austin, Texas. I wonder what Tameshk and Hossein think of this restaurant's food! It looks great, don't you think?
It's a cold, dark, and rainy Sunday. One might take such a day to be gloomy and melancholic. It isn't such a day for me! My son came home for the holidays yesterday. He will be around for several weeks now. I am actually caught up on most of my outstanding writing commitments, and for the first time in a few weeks I feel a little more in control of what's happening around me! I may have worried a few of my good friends by the disappearing act of the past few days, and for that I apologize! Heeh! I am chipping away at a very large photo essay I am writing about my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project is complicated, because hundreds of photographs have to be numbered and sequenced to match the chronology of the text I am writing. When I get caught in that maze, I can't find my way out to do other things!
In celebration of our first weekend together, my kids and I and their friend Ardavan will be having Chelo Kabab in a few minutes! I'm so excited to be eating my favorite food with my kids on a Sunday. Simple joys of life always impress me the most! I think I will have a big fresh onion with my lunch, too! We will go to see a movie together tonight. It's a beautiful and bright day for me, despite the weather. I hope you all are enjoying yourselves wherever you are, near and shoulder by shoulder of those you love most in life. I hope you reach out and kiss them if the urge hits you. As for me, I'll do that just before I eat my onion! Be good y'all!


My Book of Matches

My beautiul friend and teacher, Dr. Zari Taheri, forwarded pictures of Zereshk harvest in Birjand, Khorasan, to me. Zereshk (Berberis vulgaris) is used as a dried fruit in Persian cooking. The fruit's taste is sour, so it is fried in butter and cooked with sugar, and a bit of saffroned water to create a sauce/mixture which blends well with Persian rice. Though Dr. Taheri had forwarded these pictures in a Peyvand link to me, I prefer using the original ISNA link for these photos to give their photographer, Amir Hossein Heydari his due credit.
O.K. So I'm walking down the road, observing "the signs*" these days. You know, like Paolo Coelho said* in his book, The Alchemist... I have been through a bit of confusion of late, and I'm trying to get on (and stay on!) the right path. And thinking about the signs I see, I'm thinking how many times have I been another person's sign/s...!? How many times the words I said, my actions, and my presence could have served to help another person to see his path more clearly?
I hope you all have a great day, full of good signs and candles, flashlights, lanterns, and projectors lighting up your paths, showing you to joy, peace, and happiness. I'm making do with a book of matches I have found somewhere, trying harder than I have ever tried in my life to see my way. Be good you all!
*“In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.”


The Phoenix

Sheraguime Yushij, son of Nima Yushij, recites his father's poem, "The Phoenix," or Qoqnoos. The music is by composer Ahmad Nadimi. Mr. Yushij and Mr. Nadimi both live in the Washington DC Area. I tried to find the English version of this poem, which is Nima's very first free form poem, changing the landscape of Persian poetry forever, but I was unsuccessful tonight. I will look for it again tomorrow. I'm exhausted, so I crawl to bed now, wishing you all a beautiful Tuesday.


Mi Gilan

P.S. 12/18/2008: The video clip I had posted here earlier has been discontinued, unfortunately. In its place I have posted a picture of Gilan's rice paddies.
My friend sent me the link to this clip about Gilan. It made me very happy, remembering my beautiful memories of the land and people of Gilan. I thought I'd share it with you guys. I have said enough times that I am not from Gilan, but that through a bridge of love, I became an "Honorary Gilak!" Have a good day!

The Leaf That Hangs On

Autumn in Kurdistan, Iran. Photo by Shahrooz Sharifinasab, Fars News, December 7, 2008. Look at that stubborn heart-shaped leaf. It is hanging on with all its might. What an important sign that one was to follow tonight!
I am working on something for work through the weekend. It is an important document and I want it to be perfect when I send it in on Monday. Today I had a quiet day working my way through my project, so when my younger son invited me to join him for a late lunch and a funny movie, I jumped for joy and followed him! I know I keep saying this, but he has turned into such an interesting young man, wise and thoughtful and responsible, with an interesting sense of humor.
Tomorrow I will continue working on my project and will go to catch a Berkeley Lecture Series presentation in the afternoon. Deljoo Abadi will be talking about the Qisas Laws of Iran, and Director Mahnaz Afzali will be presenting a screening of her film, Red Card. (UC Berkeley, Barrows Hall, Room 110, 4:00 p.m.).
Bayramali wrote something about Babak Bayat tonight and made me remember the late Iranian musician. He was a composer who wrote many memorable Iranian songs and film scores. I found a videoclip of him playing and singing along one of his songs with Mani Rahnama. I leave the link for you here, in case you are interested. He had such a beautiful and strong voice, too. He is making music in heaven now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_1XyaoyFk0
Have a happy Sunday everybody and take care of those around you. Kiss them often, hug them, and if you have love in your hearts for anybody, make this the day you will tell them, even if you have never done it, even if you have done it a thousand times before. You won't regret it, I promise!


The Western Man's Music of Our Hearts

Kees van den Doel plays Laleva, a Mazandarani tune on the Ney with an Iranian ensemble (I think their name may be Sheevash, but I'm not sure). Isn't that fabulous? I searched high and low for Mr. van den Doel on the internet, but couldn't find out much about him. Hopefully he will find us, as it has happened in the past! I want to know where he learned to play the Persian Ney like that!

Enjoy this fun and beautiful piece of music everybody, and have a great Friday! Oh, yes, I forgot to mention...I'm exhausted! I had to do some things for my friends and had to work on a bunch of writing for work today, so I'm all "typed" and "written" out! I promise to write something meaningful tomorrow, but I also promise not to bombard you with posts like I did last night! I had to peal myself away from the keyboard and take myself to bed last night, or I would have written five more posts, so you guys were spared! That occasionally happens to me, where I have too much emotion and too many thoughts to share, but luckily for you, it always passes! Whatever that burst of energy was, it has been put to good use and it's almost completely exhausted by this hour. Tomorrow will be a great day, I just know it!


Tonight's Last Thought...

And one last thought tonight...
Remember the story of that four-leaf clover?
Two weeks ago, my son gave me his four-leaf clover for good luck.
These days I walk around remembering my son and my four-leaf clover all the time.
And I'm thinking, how can I get any luckier than this?

Through The Fire

And sometimes,
All you need to do
Is to remember love
How you loved,
And how you were loved
The mountains you moved for love
The fires you walked through for love
The mountains that were moved for you
The one waiting for you
On the other side of fire


The joys of love
And forget
The pain

Remember love.


Two Embraces

My coworker lost her brother last week. He suffered from bipolar disorder, lived alone, and took his own life. I saw my friend in our office kitchen today. What do you say to someone who has lost her only sibling in the world? How do you comfort her? I said to her what I remembered her having told me of this brother over the past year; how much she loved him and how hard she had tried to care for him. She was listening, as though she needed to hear an objective person tell her that she had done everything she could for someone with mental illness. As I was talking to her, I abandoned the words, reached out, and embraced her. She came to me like a child, looking for the arms of someone bigger, wiser, and stronger. We just stood there embracing for a while and we cried together. No more words. Our silence said all that needed to be said.
This afternoon, my coworker Mary Ann, stopped by my office. She was so happy, she came over and hugged me, smiling! She said her nephew announced his engagement to a young Iranian woman, named Susie over the Thanksgiving holiday! She said how nice this young woman is and how happy she and her family are to have her in their family now. She said Susie is beautiful and oh-so-kind and considerate. The two of us talked about this happy event in her life for a few minutes. My happiness was two-fold, one because my friend was so happy and the other for learning that a beautiful young Iranian had brought joy into another family's life. Mary Ann asked me if I had a relative by the name of Susie, and I laughed with joy, feeling happy that Mary Ann would want to be related to me! I said Susie is related to me through my culture and tradition and as a good ambassador of good Iranians, I consider her my family without having ever met her!
My life has meaning, for I am connected to a large family all around me. I am seeing and reading my signs these days.


Following The Signs

Autumn in Golestan province of Iran. Photo by Sohrab Sardashti, Fars News, December 2, 2008.
This week has gotten off to a good start, it seems. I'm not superstitious, but I do believe in signs. Did you read Paolo Coelho's Alchemist? He talks about signs all through his book, one of my most favorite books in the world. I see signs around me which give me hope and strength for breaking out of my tough times of late. I received a phone call with mildly bad news yesterday. I hung up the phone and sat there thinking, "why am I not sad?" Then I tried to see how I did feel. This is when I realized I felt relief. I couldn't believe I was feeling relief at hearing bad news! I guess though the news wasn't good, knowledge of it felt good, hence the relief. In a somewhat twisted change, I felt lighter and happier afterwards. Does that make any sense to you?
Mehran came to see me in Berkeley after work today. We had such a good time sitting in a cafe, talking, and laughing. It felt good to hang out with a good friend and forget about everything else in the world for a couple of hours. I am so much lighter today than I have been in a while. I am following the signs.


Where Joy Was Planted

Autumn in Mazandaran, Iran. Photo by Mohammad Rezaee, Fars News Agency.
For several weeks every autumn, our front yard and the blue pool in the middle of it would fill up with fallen leaves. The leaves were in so many different colors, yellow, orange, brown, and red. Our gardener, who had a name I have never heard since, Arabali, would sweep the leaves to a corner and fetch the ones in the pool, putting them in piles around the yard, until he could get a chance to collect them all and remove them. One of the funnest things my sisters and I used to do was to jump on the piles of leaves in the backyard, throwing them around and burying ourselves in them. We would leave a mess and if we were caught by my mother or Arabali himself, we had hell to pay! This never stopped us, though! That yard had so many of my childhood memories in it. From the spring roses around which we did our annual Nowruz photos, to the mulberry trees which come May would be filled with delicious fruit, to the pool which was our sanctuary during the summers, to the leaves which were our autumn joy, to the snowmen we would create during the winter, all my childhood is now planted in that yard. It's still around, you know? Well, modified and made a lot smaller, but I have gone back to see it again, and it's still there. Trees and plants have grown where those joys were planted, I know. I miss my childhood house's yard, but I am happy in the knowledge of the life that goes on in it, still.


The Persian Winter

A fire crackles
A tray of nuts awaits
A book of poetry beckons
Inside, Hafez holds court
Wise and receiving
A bowl of pomegranate seeds winks
A candle burns bright and true
Mother’s quilt kind and soft
The long night outside
The Persian woman sits
Focused and hopeful
A prayer on her lips
The book warming her hands
The candle calling her close
The fire whispering her dreams
Mehr embracing her
As she opens the book
The long night outside
Wisdom said
Hopes expressed
Fears vanished
Tomorrow a beautiful image
Today a blissful addition
The Persian Winter looms
Warm and kind
Receiving and soothing
The long night outside.

Hamed Nikpay

My talented friend, Hamed Nikpay sings "Deceit," or Fareeb from his new album, All is Calm. Some of this clip was filmed at Berkeley's Persian Center! I will be writing about Hamed again soon. Have a wonderful Sunday everybody!


Driving Through The Fog

I went to visit with my family again tonight. We sat around the dinner table before, during, and after dinner, chatting and laughing with my cousins who are visiting from Iran. It was such a good time. These days more than ever, when I get together with my family it feels like I'm putting down some weight from my shoulders. I don't know how to describe it better. I just feel lighter and less dragged down when I leave them.
Afterwards, I got in my little car and started driving down the hill, through a winding road, towards the freeway. A thick fog had covered the road, rendering very low visibility. I could hardly see a few yards ahead of my headlights. I drove slowly and carefully. I turned off the radio, so that I could hear my environment better. Around a bend, my headlights caught the eyes of a deer, right by the side of the road. Soon I saw that he wasn't alone, there were two others with him. I wanted to yell at them and tell them to stay off that road, to go back into the woods and stay there, where it was safe and they wouldn't be run over by cars. They looked so sweet and loving to each other, two of them keeping the younger of the three behind them. They didn't startle me like deer by the roadside often do. I don't know why. I felt love and strength in their little family's excursion into my world. Did they have a message for me? Did I have a message for them? I continued on the dark and foggy road until I reached the main Road in Lafayette, where I noticed the trees covered in Christmas lights, as they always do during Thanksgiving weekend. Something about the routine and predictability of those lights and their glittering beauty made me smile. I realized that when you put some weight off your shoulders, you can see better, you can remember better, you can feel better. I think I'm seeing again.


Truth Time

Asheegh musicians of Azerbaijan perform at Tehran's City Hall. Photo from Fars News.
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. It is a day when families gather around each other, have a sumptuous meal and say thanks for what they have in their lives. I am going to my older sister's house to be with friends and family. For the past 30 years, I have celebrated Thanksgiving. I have celebrated it in the US in a student one-bedroom suite, in houses filled with people and food, in Iran with family and friends, and at friends’ houses while travelling. It is a time for reflection and evaluation for me.
By all accounts this has been a hard year for me. I have cried more than I have during recent years, even through my saddest times. I have felt more than my fair share of compassion, sorrow, and love for others. I have had to say hello to some changes in my life and I have had to bid farewell to things and people who have been important to me in one way or another. In joy and in sadness, I have cried buckets this year!
I am grateful for my life, which is beautiful and full of love. I am thankful for my family and for my friends. I am thankful for you! I appreciate everyone’s good health and my family’s patience in dealing with what must have been a very hard year for some of them. My sweet and beautiful niece has been run down by a mysterious illness all year and the side effects of the medications she has been using have taken a toll on her beautiful and healthy body, that of a 21-year-old’s. My sweet aunt passed away this year and our family had to endure the loss with grace and love for one another.
I had to let go of some things which had grown dear and special to me. I couldn’t find a way to negotiate, to change course, or to think of alternatives. I just had to let go completely and spontaneously, without a chance to try changing things because the situations did not lend themselves to change. They had to be abandoned. That has left me sad and despondent. Well, what can I say? I have learned from the situations and hopefully, I will see them coming if they happens again.
I had my past visit me yet again. It was a sad time for me. I remembered all the hard work I had done for love, to keep things from deteriorating and how in the end, I had accepted that fate. When your past knocks on your door, you wonder about the cosmic reasons for it. Was it something I did wrong and I am now extended a chance to set it right? Could I have avoided what became inevitable? What would I do with my past in my present life? Could some things which caused so much pain in another time of my life bring me joy in this one? I doubt it. I had to let go of my past yet again, pulling myself up and looking ahead, the only thing I know how to do well!
Except for my kids, I neglected most of my other family members this past year. I spent a great deal of time by myself, thinking and doing things. That has not been good for my soul. A family’s love may not be entirely unconditional, but it is flowing and endless and in its very core, selfless. I need to be better at calling and visiting my kin, and now that I have relieved myself of some huge and time-consuming volunteer work I was doing, I think I may do just that.
It is a time to be thankful and appreciative of what still is, and letting go of what is no longer. I am embracing the chance. I am going to love life like there is no tomorrow. I am going to do better. Starting today. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Enjoy your time together and be good. Eat as much as you like, laugh as much as you can, and when the little and big rascal family members, nieces and nephews and cousins go by, jump to your feet, go over, hug them, kiss them no matter how much they resist you, and shout in their ears: Dardet be joonam, I love you!

A Wednesday Dance

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam performs a dance he choreographed himself, Faryad. I saw him perform this piece on stage last year. I have written about Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam and his efforts to bring back what was lost of traditional Persian dance when it was banned after Islam. Moshkin Ghalam believes parts of Persian dance can be seen in traditional Indian dances and some in Flamenco dances. A part of the research he is doing is to gather those pieces and re-construct the Persian dance. In his highly athletic as well as expressive dance pieces he tries to show us what he has accomplished so far. I can tell you to watch him perform live is to let yourself be mesmerized!

I wish you all a happy Wednesday everybody. I am working a short day today, so I will write more later!

P.S. Earlier this morning I had posted a clip of Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam's "Shir Ali Mardan" dance here. I received a comment from kind Cukoo. Reading that comment, I decided to change the clip and show you the one you can see now. This might be a better presentation of the emotion Moshkin Ghalam can put in his work. He is an actor first and foremost, did you know? He is a member of Paris' acclaimed Comedie Francaise. Cukoo Jan, thank you for the reminder and the challenge. I hope you enjoy this. You rock!


Memory of A Sign

I found this picture in a German man's travelogue of his trip to Iran on a bicycle in 2002. This picture reminded me of a memory. I rememer we were having our annual family reunion in Rasht with my then in-laws. Guests were arriving from everywhere, including Tehran. A wonderful older lady, Azar Khanoom, had also come with her son, who was my friend on top of being related to me through marriage. When they arrived at Hotel Kadous in Rasht, I asked her son where Azar Khanoom was and he said she wasn't feeling well. I felt so bad for her, so I asked him what was the matter with her and whether she needed to be seen by a doctor. He said she had been in such a good mood for going to Rasht and so happy to be visiting with family. All through the drive to Rasht, she had been in a great mood until they had come upon these signs which say Peech-e-marg-avar, or "life threatening bends." He said when she saw the signs her mood changed and she became worried that they might have an accident and die around one of those bends! By the time they arrived, she had been so stressed out, she had to go to bed and rest! Heeh! We laughed so much and everytime I saw Azar Khanoom, I asked her about her experience on the Tehran-Rasht road! I think the transportation authorities went a little overboard with their warning, wouldn't you say?! The skeleton head is a real overkill, if you forgive the pun! Anyhow, the picture reminded me of sweet memories and I thought I would share.
Considering everything, I had a relatively good day today. Thank you all so very much for your good wishes and good vibes. They helped a lot! Have a great Tuesday everybody!



Sweet Robert sent me this picture today. He is an inspirational blogger in Germany. I am so fortunate our paths have crossed. Thank you Robert for always visiting me and for sounding so kind and supportive.
I end a weekend full of solitary activity and self search. I attended long-neglected chores around my house and exhausted and spent, I feel peaceful and ready for tomorrow. Your kind and positive vibes have reached me, whether you left me a comment, sent me a note, or sent them the way of the universe. I am in receipt of good feelings and positive thoughts. Thank you.
I hope the new week is full of good news and happy events for you all. This will be a short week for us, as beginning on Thursday, we will have a four-day holiday weekend for Thanksgiving. There is so much to be thankful for in my life. My nieces and nephews and son will be coming home beginning Tuesday night, and we will have a large family gathering at my sister's house on Thanksgiving Day. A lot of good things to await. Peace be with all of you.

Happiness Trainees

Some of the best joys in life are free. If we are lucky enough to run into them and recognize their value, our attitudes and approaches to life can be reset and setup with unlimited cheer and happiness. Take a look at this video clip. It shows two little girls dance a Lezgi dance to sweet Azeri music. They are what I call "dancers and happy people in training!" I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I did tonight, when I really needed the cheer. Enjoy!


Coming Up for Air

I call this one, "Women Talking on a Summer's Afternoon." The painting is by Narges Hashemi, and I took it from here.
I am working through some hard times. I have had to make some major adjustments to my way of thinking about my life's priorities. Some of what I'm tackling is freeing me of things which have bothered me for a while, weighing me down, making movement difficult for me. Some of it is making me sad. They are necessary steps I have known for a long time I must take, so I take them with as much courage as I can muster. Heeh! I must sound so mysterious to you, all of a sudden! I'm struggling here, so please bear with me. I will write about them when I feel better.
I cleaned my house today and spent time with my younger son who was acting so grown-up and mature, supportive and kind beyond words. Tomorrow I will continue with my various cleanup projects around the house, finding the small accomplishments therapeutic and rewarding. I have an important day ahead on Monday. I will appreciate any and all good vibes you can send my way. Believe it or not, I do believe in the power of good vibes; I send them often myself and feel them when I receive them. I'm hoping that the changes I have put into motion will generate enough energy to pick me up from a rough patch of life and tide me over to better times.
I wish all of you a happy weekend with your loved ones, filled with joy and peace. Be good y'all.


Kiosk in San Francisco

Camera time! I went to see Kiosk perform in San Francisco last Friday night. My friends had come along, too, making it a very special occasion to be in the company of great music and friendship. His Majesty was there. Bayramali was there, too. Poor Leva had been so sick, but she and Vahid had somehow managed to come. Beautiful people! Ehsan was there, too, but no Maryam (boo hoo hoo, I miss her!).
Kiosk are taking their new Album, Global Zoo, Bagh-e-Vahsh-e-Jahani, on the road. It's a great album you guys! I got my CD! We had a treat, because the great young Iranian composer and guitarist, Babak Amini was at the concert. Superb!
I went with Omid. He is finishing his last year of graduate studies at Berkeley's School of Journalism.
I ran into so many of my good friends. This is Avideh Zahedi. She is a sculpture artist. She is also a very sweet and funny woman.
I also ran into Maryam and Ali, who were exuberant and joyful as usual. A great young couple.
Hadi had brought his brother Javad, and I got a chance to see sweet Jeerjeerak and Babak, my wonderful blogger friends. Too bad we couldn't see each other more. Left to right, Ehsan, Hadi, Babak, Leila, and Javad.
Out on the patio, were my other friends Lale Welsh, Babak Khiavchi of Kiosk, and Bruce Bahmani. Bruce said his new Rostam comic book is coming out soon. Great!
I tried to get a picture of Leva which she would let me use. It's hard, you know! She is sooo picky!
Kiosk sang their hearts out for us. It was really wonderful. When the song Jaddeh-ye-Khoshbakhti was up, Arash dedicated it to Luna (Shad), the love of his life. That was so sweet you guys. Look at this short clip of one of their new songs.


Dance of Hope

Paris-based Iranian dancer, Sahar Dehghan, performs a modern dance with a Persian inspiration. Music and cello by Homayoun Khosravi. I wonder if my friend, Sabereh Kashi, made this video. It's beautiful music and a beautiful dance by a beautiful dancer. Enjoy!

I hope you guys have a good week ahead of you. I am struggling with some hard things and I hope to be free of a lot that bothers me these days soon. Any good vibes sent my way will be greatly appreciated! Who knows? Maybe when I'm free of all that keeps me bugged down these days, I can tell you some great stories! My pains always turn into good stories with hindsight! For my part and as always, I send each and every one of you waves of love and good wishes. Be good y'all.


Ross Mirkarimi in Berkeley

This coming Sunday, November 16, 2008, Berkeley Lecture Series and Iranian Student Alliance in America (ISAA) will host San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi at a lecture on "The Historical Election Results." Ross (Rostam) is an Iranian American politician and one of the founders of California Green Party. He has an impeccable record of fostering diversity, community outreach, environmental policies, and good city management. He was recently re-elected as City of San Francisco's District 5 Supervisor. Ross is also a friend of mine. When his campaign first kicked off last May, I did a report of the event which was published here. (Heeh! If you go look at my report and photos, you can even see me in picture 25 next to Reza!). I am delighted for his overwhelming victory and I look forward to hearing his talk on Sunday. The man is an excellent orator with a voice unlike any other's! Come see for yourselves if you live in these parts. The lecture will be at 4:00 p.m. at UC Berkeley's 110 Barrows Hall. Here's a campus map.

Kiosk in San Francisco

Deutsche Welle has prepared a report of Kiosk's performance in Bonn during their recent tour. I know several members of the band and a couple of them are my friends. But that's not why I love listening to these guys! I love their music. I'm going to see Kiosk in San Francisco this Friday night. They will be performing in other cities, too. Here's the tour program information, in case you want to catch one of their shows. They are fabulous.
On a less fabulous note, some things have been happening around me which are bugging me. I can't talk about them yet and I don't want to pretend to anything, so I cut this post short and go to bed. I'll come back and write a better post when I'm in a better mood. Yes, I'm having a very human moment! Be good y'all.


Love Songs

Ebi sings Ghebleh, one of my most favorite love songs.

Do you have a love song you would like to share with me?

It's that kind of night!

Be good and happy everybody. Don't forget love!


Spic 'n Span!

An American woman, Jane Stillwater, visited Gilan when she went to Iran recently. Read her travel notes here, where you can see more photographs. Photo shows some of the typical appetizers served in a Rashti restaurant. I miss Gilan.
O.K. So my laziness extended to my blogging, too! Na baba, just kidding. I got so caught up in doing chores around my house, I decided to give myself a short break from "thinking work!" I have cooked and cleaned and scrubbed and dusted for two days now. I did take a short, pleasant break yesterday to go visit with my friend Helaleh's sweet parents. Their family has been through a lot and I'm sure glad they have been taking it easy and enjoying each other for the past couple of months. Omid and Alireza came, too, and between the journalists and Helaleh's parents the discussions were so interesting!
My kids' friends are aware of my son's long weekend stay at home, so they keep showing up in droves! Last night when I stuck my head in the family room, there were 8 young guys sitting there next to one another like sardines, watching something! Tonight I had to feed five people again and that was fun, too. You know, I grew up in a large family and a busy household. My parents' kitchen never prepared food for 2, 4, or 6 people, as there were anywhere between 8 and 12 people at the table during our ordinary mealtimes! I learned how to cook when I was 12 and later it was hard for me to learn to cook for less than 10 people! I think this is why I love having guests so much!
I'll drive my son back to Santa Cruz tomorrow. It's been a satisfying weekend. I want to tell you guys about Hamed Nikpay's new album and Kiosk's upcoming concert and finish my Three Weeks in October series and show you two other things! I just need some time to sit down and do it and I will get started on it tomorrow morning. Have a good Tuesday everybody.


Lazy Saturday

Opening night of Sculpture Exhibition at Artists' House in Tehran, November 7, 2008, Seyyed Mohsen Sajjadi Mehr News Agency. Isn't it awful that Mehr News, much like other news agencies of Iran, never take the trouble to write the artists' names and information on their photographs? I don't have any information about this artist and this piece to share with you.
I have been the laziest woman in the world today. Well, I did manage to produce a report of the comedy show I went to last night, but that was about it! I did absolutely NOTHING today, loving every second of my quiet and eventless Saturday. My younger son and his friends Iden and Pouria had gone to visit my older son in Santa Cruz last night, staying there. My younger son called at around 6:00 p.m. to find out what was for dinner, as he was bringing his two friends with him. Remember me, the lazy woman who did NOTHING today?!! I told him to come over and we would order pizza. They showed up and guess what?!! My older son had come home with them!! Joy! I was still the lazy woman in her sweats with unkempt hair and no makeup, but all of a sudden extremely happy, too! They are sitting in the family room now, watching TV--it must be something funny because I keep hearing them laugh. I am so excited! Three more days of my long weekend still ahead, my two sons and Iden still around, and enough time on hand to do my projects around the house. I am so happy!
I hope you all are enjoying your weekend just as much as I am. Reach out to those you love and spend time with them, or around them as I tend to do with my family. I plan to make a big breakfast for my family tomorrow morning and to spend time catching up with them. (Heeh, I will need to make up for my laziness today!) Maybe you could do the same for your family! If you live by yourself, make yourself a big breakfast and love yourself as this is a very good place from which to start loving others! Take care and be good you all!


Sweet As Can Be

Akihito Koriyama of Japan took two years to travel to many places including Iran. This is his photographic account of Iran and Iranians. This might appear a little slow to some of you. I simply LOVED the slowness and the overall effect of the video, because it gave me a chance to think about those scenes and those people. I hope you enjoy this and that it doesn't make you too homesick for Iran.

If I can, I will come back and write my Friday post late this evening after I return from an event* in Berkeley.

Berkeley Lecture Series presents "Baha'i Faith 101," a comedy performance with Mansour Taeed, featuring Professor Enayatollah Farhoumand Sangsari, Sociologist and Emeritus faculty of Columbia University; Friday, November 7th, 2008, 8:00 p.m.; Gaia Center, 2116 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.


Warm and Beautiful and Easy

Painting by Narges Hashemi, exhibited at Aaran Gallery in Tehran, shown on Iranian.com, November 5, 2008.
I had some nasty dreams last night. Things I didn't want and places I didn't want to visit and people I didn't want to see and actions which were all unwelcome were filling my sleep and I actually woke up several times to "reset" my dreams, but as is an unfortunate thing with me, I would fall asleep again and pick up the dream wherever I had left it off and the unwelcome images came back. It wasn't a nightmare, because I didn't wake up in a cold sweat or screaming, but I was angry all through the night, clenching my jaws, and keeping my hands in a fist, my nails cutting into my palms. Yikes!! That was awful!
I woke up to light and calm, the sun breaking out outside my window, the tree branches dancing in a soft breeze, the sound of my son's breathing down the hall, even the sound of Iden's flushing the toilette upstairs, sounds and feelings of order, life, and normalcy, things that do rule my life these days. I woke up my son to get ready for his 8:00 a.m. class and as he was ready to leave the house, he came into my bedroom where I was getting ready to go to work, and handed me an unsolicited cup of hot tea with a little milk in it, just how I like to drink my morning tea. I stayed in my bedroom for a few more minutes, sipping my tea and looking out the window, feeling alive and fortunate for my life which is warm and beautiful and easy. Thank you God!


Rain, Rain

Tehran's autumnal rain. More photos in the series by Abolfazl Salmanzadeh, Fars News Agency.
The windshield wipers squeaked across, losing fast to the pouring raindrops. The old Paykan wasn't well-insulated, so I could hear the rushing water running under the car, the huge raindrops hitting against the roof, and I could feel the cold wind finding its way into the car, reminding me of how safe, warm, and dry I was sitting in the back of that cab. I was going home, where someone waited for me in a warm environment. The apartment felt cozy and welcoming, with the delicious aroma of home-made food filling its every nook and cranny, and a fire burnt in a fireplace. I took off my scarf and raincoat, washed my hands, and sat to good food and good company, friendship and peace, and love and understanding. We sat by the window, watching the rain, and I felt safe for I was in the company of old, deep, and unpretentious friendship. I miss Tehran and I miss Mandana.


Yes, I Do!

Elections days are really exciting days for me. I think my excitement might be contagious, too, because I could see my younger son mirroring my excitement to the point that after their early morning class, his friend Kayvan decided to follow the two of us to the polling place nearby! He will be voting later today in his own neighborhood.
There was a very good turnout at the polling place. My son and I were 111th and 112th people who had voted this morning. Do you remember the short report I posted the last time I went to the same place to vote? This time there was a "No Photography" sign at the entrance, so I couldn't capture all the excitement inside the room! But, hey, I can assure you that the place was buzzing with an unusual level of energy and turnout this time around!
Heeh! This picture shows the two of them wearing "I Voted" stickers, if you can spot the tiny stickers on their T-shirts!
We talked about how the policies adopted over the past eight years have changed our world, have created wars, have caused economic havoc all around the world, and have left so many people destitute, displaced, dead, and disabled. Politics and politicians of America have affected the rest of the world in irrevocable and irreparable ways. We talked about how when some ignorant and apathetic people ask: "Do you really think your vote makes a difference?!" by now we know for sure that the answer is "Yes, I do."
I am honored to be able to vote.


Get Out There And Vote!

Tomorrow is Elections Day in the U.S. My younger son and I will go to vote early in the morning. My older son will be voting in Santa Cruz. If you are U.S. Citizens, I urge you to go out there and vote. To be able to vote is one of the most important and precious privileges an individual can enjoy anywhere in the world. Even today in so many different parts of our world people are not allowed to participate in choosing their leaders through fair elections. So many people in our world have given their lives to struggles for gaining the right to vote and to be heard. A person who doesn't vote is not counted and is not heard. I take the responsibility with care and with honor. It doesn't matter for whom or what you vote, so long as you vote. The best part of a democracy is being able to cast that vote and accepting the outcome no matter who wins. Do your part and accept the outcome. Help make this country and the rest of the world a better place. Your vote is that important.

Three Weeks in October (II)

Kerry and Mark's friend, Todd, had been cat-sitting Ray that Sunday morning. He left after Mehran got there to help me with the setup. I told Mehran and all the people who came in after him that both front and back doors to the house had to be closed at all times to make sure Ray won't get away. My cat, Asghar, was allowed to leave our apartment in Ghaytarieh all the time. Even so, when he was supposed to be in the apartment we all made sure he wouldn't bolt for the door. Out of habit, I guess, I was overly cautious about Ray who never showed any interest about leaving the house. Ray is a house cat which means he roams the house, living like a king, but is never let out. Even so, it wouldn't hurt to be cautious, I thought.
Mehran and I set out the food, the plates, the backyard furniture complete with a hooka (ghelyoon), and the drinks. I was in jeans and a T-shirt, keeping it casual for the casual gathering. Mehran asked me if I wasn't going to change into party clothes. I was surprised he would ask that! I asked him why he thought we should dress up and at this point he said: "Well, because it's your birthday party and everyone will be dressed up!" Say what?!! It was not my birthday party, and I hate birthday parties and even worse, I hate surprise birthday parties!! I won't let this go! I kept asking him whose idea this was and what was this all about and whether the friends who had called to join the party were all in on this, too? As it turned out, Leva and Jahanshah had arranged for everyone to come ready to celebrate my birthday. Yikes! I went and changed.
The guests to my small party started arriving. Bloggers, writers, journalists, artists, and activists, my friends are some of the smartest and most professionally-accomplished people you would know. They are just a fabulous bunch. Everybody looked really good and was in a very happy mood. By the time Jahanshah showed up with the cake, I had stopped being mad at the lot of them! We were so happy to be together, as is always the case when we get together, talking and laughing and eating and having a good time. Ray came down to check out the scene, but turned around and went upstairs to be by himself, I guess! I felt bad for him because he was probably looking around and not recognizing anyone but me, missing Mark and Kerry. I went to check up on him twice during the evening, and both times he was sitting on the bed, alert and awake. Mehran suggested I shut the bedroom door on him, but I felt kind of bad locking him in for the whole night, so I let him feel free to move upstairs between the bedroom and Kerry's den, where she and Ray spend most days together.
We were having such a good time, jaaye hamegi khaali! We were celebrating not so much my birthday or Jahanshah's sendoff, but our friendship. As I made the rounds to check on my friends who had broken into small groups all around the house and the backyard, I could hear them talking about politics, telling jokes, and catching up with each other. Joy!
(To Be Continued...)



Do you remember the family wedding I told you about in September? The one my sons and I attended with some of my other siblings? I already told you briefly about the gathering on the night before the wedding, the Hana Bandan. I went to a Pagosha party for that couple at my older sister's house this afternoon. A Pagosha is when a family honors the newly-married couple by throwing a party for them shortly after the wedding. In a way, the brand new couple's new status as "a family" is celebrated this way. In Iran, where families are a lot bigger and there are more of them around to throw parties, it is usually a very exciting and exhausting time for families of the bride and the groom who are invited to one Pagosha after another for several weeks following a wedding. In these parts a family wedding and a Pagosha are novelties for us! My sweet niece (she is my "naveh amoo") and her lovely husband make such a perfect couple. Spending time visiting with them and the family and celebrating the love and joy a newly-married couple's presence exudes was really a great thing to do on a Sunday! As is always the case with formal Iranian occasions, the food was fabulous and elaborate, and I ate entirely too much! After our early dinner we sat around and talked about all kinds of things including, but not limited to the upcoming elections. As I have said before, when we are near our families, we don't really need to do or say very much to send and receive loving energies from one another. All we have to do is to be in the same room with them and the vibes start flowing by themselves! I'm not surprised, therefore, to be feeling really peaceful and calm tonight after the recent turmoils and stresses I have been experiencing. Life is beautiful. (And I need to go on a diet.)

For Obama and Change

"Iranian composer Farshid Amin has writen a great song called 'Pray with me' which was performed at a gala for Barack Obama two weeks ago. Lionel Richie and The Pointer Sisters also submited songs but Farshid's was chosen. He has been invited to perform the song on election night at the Democratic Victory Gala in Orange County. He is the first Iranian singer ever to perform on election night. Please watch the clip and pass it to all your friends who want a positive change." From my friend, Souri. I just love that Farshid Amin whom we all know for his 6/8 songs to which I have personally danced endlessly (!), has written such a beautiful song, reaching a world audience. Good for him. Share this with others if you can!

And while I'm at it, I would like to invite you all to read Obama's Call on my friend Mina's blogs. It is a brilliant piece, full of hope about what America would be like after Obama is elected.

Mehrjui in Berkeley

Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui and author and Berkeley resident Anita Amirrezvani. Dariush Mehrjui and Fereshteh Davaran.
I met up with friends to go see two Dariush Mehrjui films in Berkeley this evening. I loved his movie, The Pear Tree. It is a movie based on a Goli Taraghi story about a middle-aged author who returns to his Damavand fruit orchard to overcome his writer's block, coming head-on with the lost love story of his childhood. It was a beautiful movie, moving and reminiscent of so much about my own childhood. We also saw his short film, The Lost Cousin, this one a bit more surreal and dark for my taste. He then answered questions and spent a little time signing a book about his films. Professor Ardavan Davaran, a college classmate of Dariush Mehrjui's, introduced him and shared some sweet and funny memories of their college years at UCLA as young students. He said Mehrjui knew he wanted to be a film director back then, but chose to study philosophy. When his friend asked him why he was going to study philosophy if he wanted to make movies, he said because I will learn all the technical stuff in time, but in order to make good movies I will need to learn about philosophy first. Well, he learned well! From his movie, The Cow, to his latest films, I have seen quite a few of this gifted director's films, but truth be told, the one movie he made which I believe was the funniest Iranian movie I ever saw in my life, was The Tenants (ejareh neshin-ha). I have that movie and sometimes when I feel low, I watch it to cheer me up!
I saw Mehdi, Nasim and Jay, Shadi, and a whole bunch of my other Bay Area friends to my endless delight! Mehran and Bayramali and I went to dinner afterwards, laughing and talking about life. I was reminded again of how fortunate I am to be living in this area and to have such superb friends. It was a perfect thing to do to bring sunshine into my Saturday, even if the rain poured relentlessly. Have a good Sunday everybody!


Trick Or Treat!

"Road to World Cup 2006," a video clip of a group of Iranians in Europe who travelled to Germany to see the games. One of the directors is M. R. Heydari, who lives in Sweden. This clip really moved me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Happy Halloween and Happy Friday! I spent a solitary Halloween back at my house. My older son stayed in Santa Cruz to join the other 30,000 young people partying in Santa Cruz tonight. My younger son and Iden have gone to San Francisco to party at a friend's house. Did I tell you Iden is our house guest again for a couple of weeks? I am glad they are celebrating their youth, and I pray that they are safe. I had many trick or treaters at the door again this year. Treats were the order of the evening, so no tricks at this house! By now all is quiet in my neighborhood again and I get a chance to do some work.

Tomorrow evening I will go to UC Berkeley to see two of Dariush Mehrjui's films and attend a Q/A session where he will answer questions about his films. Here's the information in case you live in these parts and are interested to attend the program:

Berkeley Lecture Series Presents: An evening with Dariush Mehrjui; showing of “Derakht-e Golabi”, The Pear Tree, and “Dokhtar Dayi-e Gomshodeh”, The Lost Cousin (with Khosrow Shakibayie), followed by Q & A with Mr. Mehrjui; Saturday, November 1, 2008, 6:00 p.m.; 100 GPB (Genetics & Plant Biology), University of California, Berkeley, map.

I hope you all have a very good weekend ahead of you, full of joy, relaxation, and love. Remember to hold those who are dear to you tightly, kissing them often, and confessing your love to them! You have nothing to lose and something to gain when you pay close attention to those who are in your lives for a reason. Never take them for granted and in doing so, they will also take note not to take you for granted. So, fess up and be good y'all!