Away and Home

I am in a familiar city next to dear and old friends. My friends are looking after me and making a fuss over me, spoiling me to no end! I went to visit two lovely old ladies, a Qajar princess and her cousin, yesterday afternoon. Though I was really tired after my long flight and jet lag, their stories were so fascinating, I stayed awake and energized throughout the visit. They showed me pictures of themselves when they were children and young girls in Tehran, some of those pictures 85 years old! I will share some of the stories with you over the coming days and weeks, if I can write them the way I heard them, full of joy of life and optimism.
My friends are taking me to a fundraising event for an organization which builds schools in the rural areas of Iran. I am really interested in that work and I will share whatever I find out with you. For now, I am going to wind down and relax, worrying less about my life and responsibilities back home. Have a good Thursday you all!
Photo from here.


My Partial List of Good Things In Life

  1. I have friends. Good friends. Old friends. New friends. Old friends. Young friends. Artist friends. Ordinary friends. Thoughtful friends. Funny friends. Loving friends. Smart friends. Generous friends. Unmet friends. I have friends.
  2. I have a family. Sons. Sisters. Brothers. Cousins. Ex-in-laws. Nieces. Nephews. Brothers-in-law. Sisters-in-law. Relatives through marriages. Relatives despite divorces. Aunts and uncles and parents in heaven, but just as alive to me as can be. I have a family.
  3. I have a home. Small and cozy. Devoid of expensive things. Full of my kind of art. Brimming with my kind of music. Smelling of my food and my flowers. Full of my life's mementos and memorabilia. Home to my books. I have a home.
  4. I have a job. Trying and somewhat hard these days. Though a little unhappy of late, sufficient to tide me over to my next wonderful job. A decent livelihood. A means to be independent and proud. I pay my bills. I have a job.
  5. I am writing. My friend is helping me to write my story. I have writing exercises. I have a writing corner. I have a writer's motto. I have a direction. I am writing.
  6. I live near culture in one of the best universities in the world. I go to concerts. I go to lectures. I go to book readings. I go to performances. I can talk about politics. I can talk about arts. I can see paintings. I can see photographs. I can see sculptures. I can go to museums. I can read the news. I can read analysis on the news. I can go to a pizza parlor with people and listen to them discuss history and origins of words and arts. I can have lunch with artists and scientists. I can have a chat talking about the most ordinary things of life with a published author. I live near culture.
  7. I volunteer my time on many cultural and artistic subjects. I write. I translate. I type. I edit. I help. I volunteer.
  8. My sons are my window to a young life. They talk to me, show me things, teach me things. I live again through their triumphs and failures. They don't mind my watching too much. They humor me! They have turned into two very caring and responsible young men. Joys to have near me for as long as the honor lasts. I love my sons.
  9. I am going on a trip to visit my dear and old friends tomorrow.
  10. Chakameh and Saeedeh are pregnant and Maryam just had a baby girl.
  11. Nasim will be staying in Berkeley.
  12. Laleh is going to Iran to get married.
  13. I saw Leila.
  14. I may be having a party soon.
  15. I have good health.
  16. I love Iran.
  17. I love America.
  18. I love my life.

Share your list with us if you want.


Moving Forward

Banafsheh Sayyad performs her Sufi-inspired dance in Los Angeles in May 2008. Enjoy! (I wished the audience hadn't made so much noise during her performance, but that's just my opinion.)

It's Friday. My week has been a mixed bag of joys and reflections. I have been thinking positive thoughts which have prompted me to move forward, and I have been moving forward, prompting myself to think positive thoughts.
I'm preparing to take a trip next week, so I have been running around trying to tie some loose ends so that when I am away, I don't have to worry about things back home--well, except what my kids will be doing to my house in my absence!
When I wake up tomorrow, I will type a list I wrote in my head today. It is a list of all the little and big things which made my life good this past week. I will write them down and share them with you. Once I write it, it would be fun to see your lists, too, if you'd like to share. I'll do it tomorrow morning, as I'm really exhausted now and I won't do the task justice. Have a great weekend everyone and don't forget to use your mouth to say good things, kiss big kisses, and laugh out loud. Be good y'all.


The Phone Call

My oldest sister called me from Tehran today. We chatted for about an hour, like we used to do a lot before. My sister has always had a maternal presence in my life, and has served as my confidant from the very first time I fell in love to the time before last! The last time was too hard to talk about! It cheered me up so much to talk with her today. I should talk to my family more often.
My sister is the one that came to bring me home when I sleep-walked at 8 years of age! I had gone to our neighbor's house, would you believe it?! They called her and she came to get me! She is also the one in whose custody I almost drowned in the pool when I was barely one year old! Some babysitter she was! They found me floating in the pool, and I was revived by my brother who arrived just in time. Well, she saved me so many other times later, I have to forgive her for that one time! I almost died two more times in my life. I'll tell you about those stories some other time. For now trust me when I tell you I know why I love and cherish life as much as I do. Life is fragile and precious. It must be lived to its fullest and with as much gusto as possible. That's how I live.

Improvising Life

Two Iranians improvise in dastgah-e Esfahan; Azadeh on guitar and Ricci Boroumandian on Setar. I'm so lucky to have found this clip which I now share with you. Enjoy!

My sons are talking to each other again. Until I started feeling relaxed tonight, I hadn't realized what a toll their rift had taken on me. I had missed their chatter and laughter. I am sitting in my bed, writing this post and hearing them move about and talk upstairs. It's lovely. The simple joys of life are upon me again. To all those who sent me good vibes today, especially the kind Robert of Germany, thank you. They have already started working! When things settle down a bit around me, I will have a good story to tell you. Have a good Tuesday you all.


For The Morrow Let Us Not Worry

A nursery in Mahallat, Iran, June 15, 2008, more photos here.
O friend, for the morrow let us not worry
This moment we have now, let us not hurry
When our time comes, we shall not tarry
With seven thousand-year-olds, our burden carry.
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam, translated by Shahriar Shahriari.
P.S. I have an important week ahead. Please send me good vibes.


Love In A Rice Field

Rice fields of Gilan, May 19, 2008.
The air smells so sweet and so delicious around a rice paddy in Northern Iran in the summer. You can smell the rice ripening in the fields. My friend, Maryam, who doesn't remember many things now, used to tell me stories about rice growth from planting to harvest. When I complained about how warm and humid Rasht was during the summer, making it difficult to move about and breathe, she would remind me that this is the weather rice needs to grow. I remember one day I told her how much I wished those clouds would gather and for rain to follow. Her beautiful and sweet face became thoughtful and as though she was talking to a child, she told me: "But if it rains, the rice would be ruined. You must be patient and pray that it wouldn't rain until after harvest time in Shahrivar. This is the wrong time of the year for rain." I was embarrassed for my ignorance and so thankful for her wisdom. For the rest of my life, I would remember Maryam as the woman who understood the earth and the nature of Gilan so much better than I ever could. She may not remember much, and chances are she will soon not remeber me either, but I remember her vividly, joyfully, and longingly tonight. Of her son I may have learned pain, but of her and her husband I learned nothing but love.

Lessons Inside My Head

Ghaleh Roodkhan, Gilan, Iran. Photo by my very good friend, Alef Shin, June 2008. Thanks so much for this gift.
I know I have been irratic in my appearances. The funny thing is that I really miss my nightly routine of thinking and writing a post, and then reading what my friends have to say. As I mentioned, I am getting my life in order and this means that I have to work hard to deliver some outstanding commitments and doing projects which I cannot put off any longer. I am well and kicking ( bademjoon-e bam afat nadareh!). I really miss replying to your kind comments which I will catch up with soon.
I want to share with you something I have been thinking about for a few weeks. About three weeks ago, something happened which made me very angry. I was livid with some things someone was doing. As I was getting angry, I found my mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, and my heart was beating very fast. My left hand's first two fingers were tingling. Those sensations felt vaguely familiar. All of a sudden I stopped in my tracks! I was thinking how it had been a very long time since I got so angry and this feeling was so strange all of a sudden! A few years ago, I lived a very stressful life, where I would get angry and have the same physical symptoms on a daily basis, sometimes going to bed feeling that way. I hadn't felt that way in a long time. All of a sudden, I calmed down and started smiling. I told myself "Marg-e man, are you crazy??!! Isn't it a shame to go back to where you have been before and which you deliberately left behind because it felt awful?" Feeling angry and desperate is something that feels really strange to me these days, because I live such a peaceful life, where I'm in control of my surroundings and my directions. I just love this feeling, where I seldom lose my cool or get upset like that. I promised myself to never let anger back into my mind and my body again, because now I know better. Then I went around laughing thinking how strange I must have looked to someone looking in--angry one moment and smiling the next! You know, I love the conversations I'm having with myself inside my head these days. I might be growing up afterall!



Tea in the Northern Iran forests of Ab Pari, photo by Hamed Masoumi, Iranian.com, June 9, 2008.
I had to go through a colonoscopy today. Those of you who know about the procedure, know that it consumes two whole days of a person's life, hence my disappearance. Yikes. The good news is that I don't have to do another one for another five years and that's a good thing, indeed!
I am so glad I had such a good and relaxing time with my family on Saturday. As I sat in the car with my sister, my niece, and my son, I was listening to their conversation. They were a bit surprised at my silence. I told them to wait for me while I got recharged by observing them and enjoying their proximity. They left me alone until I, too, joined the many threads of lively conversation among them. It was a joy to spend time with them all. My 14-year-old niece, Nikoo, tried to put eye makeup on me, which was an interesting experience! I loved all the fuss and attention, though the end results unfortuntely, did not make me beautiful! I think nothing makes me beautiful, but that's O.K. with me!
This is my week for getting organized and catching up with my life. Since I had this day off for the procedure, my work week starts tomorrow. I am going to work on a new plan for myself. I hope it works. I hope you all have started a good week, too. Happy Tuesday y'all.


Stepping Into A Roomful of Love

Ghamsar rose farm harvest, Kashan, May 2008. Photo by Sid Sarshar, Where Roses Flow, Iranian.com, May 26, 2008. I wished I were there.
It's Friday. It has been a strange week for me. Some things at work were really stressful this week and some things on the home front were not very happy, either. Then, all of a sudden, I started feeling a lot better yesterday. I found a burst of energy and thoughts and ideas on how to get myself out of the unhappy patch I am walking these days. I found myself surrounded by supportive friends and exciting ideas! For the millionth time in my life, I am grateful for the gift of friends and friendships. The interesting thing about this week was that except for my very old friend, Linda, who has been my friend for the past 28 years, all the other friends I saw this week were men. I hadn't even thought about this until I went to download my camera tonight, and I saw all those kind and friendly faces belonging to my male friends whose pictures I had taken all week long. That was interesting!
I am going to have a relaxing day with my family tomorow. I'll go to visit my younger sister in Sacramento in the company of my other sisters and nieces and my older son. I am going to let myself be spoilt by my family and their love. I miss them very much and it would be good to be away from my daily routine for a day. I recommend a dose of love for all of you, too! You know, as each of you walk into a room with people you love, you have all that you need with you right there. Use your facial muscles for smiles, your arms for tight embraces, your lips for big fat kisses, your voice for boisterous laughter, your eyes for taking in all the beauties of life, your feet to dance, and your words to soothe and calm and coo. Even if you don't feel like doing any of these things, be mild and nice and easy-going you guys, making it a pleasure for others to have you around. Don't think about work, and forget your vows for a few hours. Stay in the moments which make up here and now. Let your mind record the pleasures and sensations of love and understanding. You will need to use those recordings later, on harder days when you have to play them to be reminded of who you are and what your life is all about and what matters the most. Go build those memories this weekend. Have a good weekend you all.
I will reply to all the kind comments this weekend, I promise.



I was in the eighth grade in Tehran. My cousin told me and my older sister that she had arranged for the three of us to participate in a game show on TV. The participants on the game show had to compete in math, history, and geography subjects. We showed up to the studio on schedule. It was so exciting for me. My sister and my cousin were eliminated in the earlier stages of the game and I managed to do well in six of the seven stages of the game. The person who passed the seventh stage would win a big prize. Just as I passed the sixth stage, time ran out and they "wrapped up" the show, promising the audience that they will come back next week. In reality, though, the next segment was taped right there and then. I couldn't answer the last question and I was eliminated. They gave us some nice consolation prizes and we went home.
A few days later the first part of the game show was aired on television. I was quietly praying that no one I knew would watch that silly show. As I got on the bus to go home the day after the show aired, I noticed all the other neighborhood kids who were riding the same bus had seen the show and had recognized me in it. I was a celebrity! But wait a minute, I had lost the first prize, only these guys didn't know it yet! They would find out about it next week. As each of them tried to come and talk to me on the bus, especially the boys, I was feeling so awful, knowing that I wasn't the super smart girl they thought I was! If only they knew how I would mess up the final stage, they wouldn't be so excited to be talking to me! I was so sad. One of our neighborhood boys, Faramarz, was such a meanie. He always teased me even when I hadn't become a local celebrity and there was yet no proof of my stupidity in the shape of my upcoming loss on the program. He would surely tease me mercilessly now. I was sick with worry.
Next week's program aired and my humiliation was put up on TV for all to see. The next day I didn't want to show my face in the neighborhood. Alas I had to go to school, so I braved it. When I got on the bus that afternoon, there was a hush on the bus. I found a seat and sat down quickly. I could feel all those disappointed eyes on myself. The bus ride felt like it would never end. I got off at my station, and all the neighborhood kids did, too. I started walking quickly towards my house. Soon I felt someone walking fast first behind me and then next to me. It was that horrible, dreaded Faramarz. I braced myself to hear his venom and to give it right back to him. He said: "So, you lost! (bakhti?)" I bristled and turned to look at him, getting ready to tell him off. He said "You know, I wouldn't have made it to the sixth level. You did good. That last question was really hard, there was no way I knew the answer." I looked up into his eyes which looked at me with a sincerety I had never seen there before. I said "I wished I hadn't messed up. I wished I had won." He said "I'm glad you didn't win. Just getting all the way up there showed me a side of you I had never known before. I don't know if I could handle you if you were that smart!" We laughed together. A big weight was lifted off my shoulders. I have loved being an average person ever since.


The Impending Flight

Faranak Ravon discovered these doves nesting in her backyard in Northern California. See more here. From Iranian.com, June 2, 2008.
And so, though it won't be for several more weeks, I am starting to feel the emotions related to my son's leaving the nest. The only saving grace of how low I feel whenever I think about his departure is how excited he is! That's a very good thing, indeed.
My very good friend, Alef Shin, has written a beautiful poem in his latest blog. He has kindly and generously dedicated this gorgeous poem to me. Please go read it and see for yourselves how beautiful it is. In a few days it will be a year since I "met" Alef Shin in cyberspace on Tameshk's blogs. It has been a year full of friendship, kindness, wisdom, and learning from him and his gifted students, the Universal Dimension. They are one of the reasons blogging has been so important to me, for the chance it has offered me to learn from some of the best young minds of Iran from Iran. I do love that bunch a lot!
Have a good Thursday you all.



A Tehran music school, Parnian, prepares for a concert in April 2008. Look at that full orchestra, complete with a choir, do their rehearsal in their two-room "school." I don't know these people and that music, though sweet, might not be exactly to my taste. But I thought I would tell you how impressed I am with the effort. I am so proud of those who continue to keep music alive in Iran in the face of adversities. Long live music!

My older son turned 22 today. He came home from celebrating with his friends a few minutes ago. I am sitting here watching him as he comes and goes and eats and watches TV and talks to his friends and family on the phone. More than ever before, these days I am very aware of his having turned into a man. As he prepares to take off for Santa Cruz this fall, I have to concentrate on helping his takeoff. He has left my nest a couple of times before, you know, each time coming back. I wasn't prepared for it when it happened before and it really hurt to have to deal with his absences. This time I want to help him do it myself. This time I want to be prepared. I dwindle between the anguish and the excitement of his independence and his journey into his future. I pray for his health and a safe journey through life. I wish him a life full of pleasant surprises and lasting lessons. I wish him a heart full of love for himself, his communities, his family, and human race. I wish him a good flight and a meaningful journey into life. I am full of words which cannot so easily come to my mouth, but which quietly appear on my post tonight. I think I will give him this to read.



My friends Ehsan and Maryam were supposed to have taken a trip to Canada this week. Ehsan started a new job a few weeks ago and at the last minute they had to cancel their trip. They called me to say that they will come to dinner at my house on Saturday. It's always a good time when I see the two of them. Ehsan was relieved to be able to spend time with one of his closest friends who was visiting the Bay Area this past week. Ehsan and his friend attended Tehran University together as undergraduates, and then they both went on to Texas for their graduate work. He and Maryam decided to bring their friend to my house last night. They told him that they were invited to a good friend's house and that they were sure he would be welcome there. When they told him the name of the hostess (that would be me!), he told them that he knew who I was! The guest was no other than my reader from Texas, Ahmad. Isn't it amazing?! Isn't it a small world? I got to meet the intelligent, sweet and sensitive Ahmad of Texas last night. Amazing!
Photo shows His Majesty, Ehsan, and Ahmad.