Happy Birthday Bayramali Jan!

I have no good excuse for my disappearance other than saying that I had to rush home on Friday to prepare for an impromptu birthday celebration for my very good and wonderful friend, master of nostalgia and humor, Mr. Bayramali. I had to run around to make things happen with such little time. As I went through the motions like a lunatic, I was full of joy for doing this for a very special man, a truly dear friend. He is kind and intelligent and funny, full of humor, warmth, and friendship. We had to keep the gathering small because of short notice, but I think the few that did come had a very good time celebrating the life of a very well-loved friend. I am so lucky, because one of my friends showed up at 11:30 to help me finish preparing the house and the food. Heeh! Poor guy! He even helped me clean the floors and the kitchen before others got here! I suppose he knows by now that having me as a friend has its own perils!
They came and they went and I am glad to report that it was a successful event. Nothing is good enough for Bayramali, because he is such a special individual. On his birthday I wish him joy and success and love for the coming year and for the rest of his life. Happy Birthday Bayramali. This is for you. (Khodemoonim ha, Foroozan couldn't dance to save her life! But still...nostalgia, pure and simple!).


Ink of Love

And so, I'm going through a little bit of blues these past couple of days. I used to agonize over whether or not I should talk about my sad days. You know, some people may not expect to hear me nag or complain or just be plain sad! I think I'm past worrying about that, and when I'm sad I say I'm sad. I am a very ordinary woman, with my joys, fears, pains, and hopes. Some days are good and some days are bad for me, just like everyone else. I think the only difference between me and some other people is that I write about my life more than they do, so I take that responsibility seriously.
One of my young friends kindly criticized me recently, saying that I am always only talking about positive things, alluding to the fact that I might be making my life to sound "unreal" or "incomplete," for no life is perfect and devoid of pain. I told her that at my age and station in life, I have lived long enough to know that even on bad days, good days will definitely come my way again very soon, and that even the worst days of my life these days, cannot compare in intensity and pain to some days I experienced in my life not too long ago. I know the difference between temporary irritations and permanent miseries, and these days I have no permanent miseries in my life to complain about! Simple as that! I told my friend that when I was her age, I reacted to situations a lot more dramatically, but that I have learned to wait out the harder days with what good things I can find.
There have been things in my life which I didn't, couldn't, write about recently. I had some crises in some of my personal relationships which were very painful, bringing me feelings of anxiety, confusion, and betrayal. I felt writing about those feelings on a public medium wasn't in the best interest of the people involved, including myself, and would be unfair to all. I kept quiet during some pretty hard times, then. Was that "unreal?" I don't think so, because even on those days I could find something else to write about. A pen is a double-edged sword! It can do good and it can cause harm. Given a choice, I'd rather my humble pen write about hope, write about love, and write about things I find amusing and interesting and positive in life. I know I am capable of writing about powerful feelings of desertion, betrayal, and abuse, too. Those who know me a little better know that I also have personal stories which would fit into those categories quite comfortably. I don't want to talk about those stories, though. They may be a part of my life, but not all of it. I should like to think that my life is a lot bigger and better and more positive than those events. I truly believe that eyes covered in tears cannot have perfect vision, and pens which dabble in the ink of hate and rage and sorrow, cannot write good things. I write with the ink of love.

چون قلم اندر نوشتن می شتافت،چون به عشق آمد قلم بر خود شکافت

Finding Our Way

More of the stuff inside my camera...My son and I arrived the fog-covered UC Santa Cruz last Thursday at 7:00 a.m., looking for directions. These days, he seems like he has found his way. I am looking to find my way, too. I think it was a strange coincidence for California Dreamin to be playing in the car, don't you?


Tears To Parties In My Head

Watermelon harvest, Boushehr, July 23, 2008. More photos here.
I am humbled by your reception and response about my last post. Thank you very much. First chance I get, I will reply to each comment individually as I like to do but have been unable to do because of my many commitments and deadlines.
I am going to a short Persian literature class again this summer, starting tonight. My beloved Dr. Zari Taheri is back in the Bay Area for a few short weeks and she will be teaching us Nezami's Eskandar Nameh this summer. I am so excited! I'm not only going to learn from the very best, I'm going to see my special friends, too. Yippee!
My son is preparing for the Fall. As the amount of excitement seems to be growing in him, I have to face the mounting dread I feel for a separation from him. I am trying so hard to act and look cool and brave, but when I see him messing up the house or sleeping in his room, or when I hear him and his friends laugh and talk in the TV room, my eyes burn with the controlled tears that threaten to fall at the thought of his long absences in the house. I don't want to be a clingy mother, so I don't. Cling that is. Also, boys are naturally protective of their mothers. As a single mother, I would hate for my boys to feel guilty about leaving me to go pursue their lives. So I look even tougher on the outside than I feel on the inside, so that they feel free to make their own choices in life without reservations about me. Of course, once they are both gone, I will go find my dream house in Berkeley and leave the suburbs behind, living where I love to live. It would have to be a party house, though. You know, with a huge party room and a balcony, so that I can have my friends over all the time!
I'll let you know how my class goes tonight. Be good and happy you guys and have a good Thursday.


All The Women Inside of Me

There is a little girl, bright-eyed and hopeful, inside of me.
There is a young woman, with a brisk gait, a boisterous laughter, a pair of feet full of dance, and a deep curiosity about people and places never seen inside of me.
There is a sultry woman, a seductress, a mistress, a lover, full of knowing touches and promising glances and welcoming kisses, inside of me.
There is a giving mother, a nurturer, and a provider, inside of me.
There is a wise old woman, a teacher, a supporter, a leader, a shaper of future, inside of me.
There is a loving partner, a kind and devoted wife, inside of me.
I am all those woman and they are me.
When I look sexy, there is a little girl inside of me.
When I look like a little girl, I am a mother.
When I look young, I hold the wisdom of history in myself.
Never see me as only one of them. Never love only one of them. Never ignore the other women inside of me.
Just as you fall asleep, holding me to your chest, sweaty, content and satisfied, remember that tomorrow, the bright-eyed girl in me wants caring, the wise woman in me wants respect, the hard-working nurturer in me wants recognition, the young woman in me wants excitement, and the partner in me wants fairness.
And when you next run into that 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old woman in your neighborhood, look out for that little girl inside of her.
I know this writing is a little different from what you may have seen me write recently! Bear with me, as this is a part of a collection of scraps I have been writing over the past few months, keeping them to myself until I am brave enough to share! I hope it doesn't shock you too much. Do tell me what you think, as this is the first time I'm showing these writings anywhere. I thought I would share with my friends first. Have a beautiful Tuesday everyone!


Some Photos

I was talking to my friend, Enayat, last night as I was snapping pictures of people at the party. He reminded me that I am really behind in talking about places I have been and things I have done of late! He is so right. Tonight I decided to look at my pictures for the past couple of months and share some with you. First, let me share a photo from last night.
Ehsan, Maryam, and Mehran at the Neeki Foundation Benefit Dance.
I went to a 127 Band concert in San Francisco with my friends and my sons in June. Mehran and Mehdi Yahyanejad (of Balatarin) were at the 127 Concert.
I had dinner with Jahanshah and Khodadad Rezakhani in June at Pyramid's in Berkeley. I went to Santa Cruz with my son for a new student orientation last week.

These are the residence halls in which my son will be staying this fall. In the distance you would see the Monterey Bay on a clear day. My son (in his 127 T-shirt!) making new friends in Santa Cruz last week. UC Santa Cruz is located in the middle of a forest. So it may be no surprise to run into deer over there. Nonetheless, we were startled to find them in the parking lot when we were going home in the afternoon!

I'll be better in posting photos as soon as I have them. Looking through the hundreds of pictures I have taken, I realized that they are not very useful when I wait too ong! I hope you all have a good week ahead of you. I will post something a little different soon. Be good y'all.


Will You Dance With Me?

Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, an accomplished Tombak player, leads Dast Afshan group of young Iranian percussionists in a performance in Tehran.

First a story for you...

Saeed was our neighborhood's bad boy. The one all the girls really liked, because he was handsome, a little older than the rest of us, drove fast cars, and appeared so mature and indifferent to all the girls. He was also my friend, confiding in me and telling me stories about the girls' attempts to get close to him. Saeed loved a girl on our street who wasn't giving him the time a day, so he wasn't paying attention to the other girls. One of the girls, Ramona, a classmate of mine at Kharazmi High School who lived a few blocks away from our street, was obsessed with Saeed and really wanted to get close to him. She had found his phone number and kept calling him at all hours, never telling him her name or showing herself, but just talking to him. Saeed was overwhelmed by this girl's calls, but didn't know how to stop her from calling his house. He had offered to see her in person to talk to her, but she refused. One day Saeed received a call from Ramona. As they were talking, he heard traffic noises in the background, so he knew she was calling from a pay phone. They talked and Saeed listened some more, until he heard the sound of Azan, loud and clear, broadcast from a mosque obviously nearby. Our neighborhood had only two mosques, so Saeed figured this girl was in a phone booth near one of the two mosques. He told her someone was at the door and asked her if she wouldn't mind holding for a few minutes for him to go and see to the visitor. She agreed. Saeed got behind his car and drove very fast to the mosque closest to our home. He could see a girl in the phone booth just outside the mosque. He parked the car and got out and knocked on the glass door of the booth. Ramona turned around and saw him. She fainted. The calls stopped. The End.*

It's Friday. I am ending a happy week. I hope it has been the same for you. I am going to relax and enjoy my weekend. It is quite possible that my sons will join me and my friends to go dancing tomorrow night! How cool is that?! If it happens, I will let you know all about it. I hope your weekend is filled with the joy of dance steps with those you love and hold dear. The best things in life are free and yours just for the asking. Ask someone to dance with you. You don't have to be in a ballroom or at a party. A room with two people in it would suffice. When you step to the dance floor, dance with all your heart, and pour all your stress out of you! Hold hands and gazes while you dance, and there you have it, a dance full of love and life. Do it! Have a good weekend you all.
*Not quite the end. Saeed married Fariba, the girl three doors down who wouldn't give him the time a day! They have two grown children and live in Sweden. I saw them last Christmas and this was one of the hundreds of memories we reminisced about. Their entire family are excellent dancers! Last I heard of Ramona, she lived in the UK.


Stepping Into Tomorrow

Early tomorrow morning, my older son and I will go to UC Santa Cruz to attend a "New Student Orienation." We will look around the campus and listen to people talk about life at the university. My son is a transfer student. This means that he has already finished two years of college and is entering the University as a junior student. This makes him older than freshman students who will also be there tomorrow. I asked him if he thought it would be O.K. for an older student to go to the orientation with his mother, and he said that he wanted me there. So we are going together. We are both so excited for this day. He has worked hard to get here and has tried several different detours on the way! I have had to do none of that but to watch him during his detours until he found the way!
I think it's infinitely easier to be the one doing the detouring and finding the way than to be the one watching, feeling helpless. I am so happy for him. I never forget the day his letter of admission came in the mail. I was running around screaming in joy and happiness, and he and his brother and Iden were looking at me do the dance and the screaming like a crazy lunatic! It would be a long time before the three of them would know what it means for a parent when her child has done the right thing and has arrived at an important station in life, because we feel the pains and joys of our children as if it is happening to us, perhaps with less intensity but with the experiences of our lifetime and the foresight we have developed over the years. I am so happy for my son, who is a beautiful and decent human being, intelligent, articulate, kind, and compassionate. Tomorrow, we are stepping into his tomorrow. I hope his roads are safe and straight and clear throughout his life. But if he has to get lost, take detours, and camp out in the wilderness sometimes, I am confident he will figure it out again soon. His compass is one of the heart and optimism and hope. There is no way such a compass will show him the wrong way.
Have a good Thursday y'all.

To Blossoms To Rain Give My Regards

Yarn used in a Darabi-bafi workshop in Yazd. See more pictures from the workshop and its old Ostad (master) at work here. More beautiful than words can convey.


به كجا چنین شتابان؟ گون از نسیم پرسید

دل من گرفته زین جا هوس سفر نداری زغبار این بیابان؟

همه آرزویم اما چه كنم كه بسته پایم

به كجا چنین شتابان؟ به هر آن کجا كه باشد به جز این سرا سرایم!

سفرت بخیر اما تو و دوستی خدا را

چو از این كویر وحشت به سلامتی گذشتی

به شكوفه ها، به باران برسان سلام ما را

"محمد رضا شفیعی کدکنی"

I am depressed
from the unyielding grimness of this wasteland,
imprisoned but desire to fly.
"To which destination do you hasten?"
a brier asked of the breeze."
To where do I speed?
"To a land that embraces me."
"Take wing in peace but remember, my friend,
when you fly beyond this grim land
in the name of God and destiny
greet the rain and the blossoms for me."
Mohammad Reza Shafi Kadkani
Translation by Sheema Kalbasi*
*I am so honored to hear directly from Sheema Kalbasi today! She has so kindly sent me her poignant translation of the poem! What did I tell you about how lucky I am?!


30 Years of Ma Ra Beboos

Three weeks ago, I celebrated the 30th anniversary since I arrived the United States. I remember going to visit San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirhardelli Square with my parents and my sisters for the first time exactly 30 years ago in July 1978. There was a man sitting on a street corner, playing his guitar and singing songs in many different languages of the world. He would ask you where you were from and would break into a song from your country! We told him we were from Iran and he started singing "Ma Ra Beboos." Every time I went back to visit, he would be there, singing the same song and being jolly and kind, earning his tip! I hadn't seen him for a few years and I was delighted to see him again yesterday when we took my cousin for a sightseeing tour of the City! There he was, looking exactly as he did before, and when he asked me where I was from and I said Iran, he broke into "Ma Ra beboos!" I told him the story of my 30th anniversary in the country and how he had stayed my "friend" for all the years I have loved San Francisco. He gave me his business card and when I snapped a bunch of pictures of him, he kindly got up, pulled out his camera and snapped some pictures of me! His name is Mr. Norbert Yancey. He is one of the reasons I love this patch of the world and he is one of the reasons I had a very joyful day yesterday. Have a good Sunday you all.


Pajama Party

Saeid Shanbehzadeh and his son Naghib Shanbehzadeh perform the music of Bushehr, Iran.

It's Friday. I am sitting in a chair in my pajamas with my laptop on my lap at my older sister's house. My family are also all sitting here with their pajamas, drinking tea and telling stories. We have gathered around my cousin, renewing memories of a magical childhood together and making new memories. Can life get any better than this?

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, close to your family and those who love and understand you. I wish the same wonderful and warm cloud of familiarity, love, and continuity would envelop you, making you feel content and happy as I feel tonight. I'm putting this computer aside momentarily to re-join the boisterous conversation in progress. Have a good weekend everyone. Don't forget to smile. Don't forget to confess your love.


In The Company of Friends

I had lunch and tea with my friend, Omid Memarian, in Berkeley today. Omid has been spending his summer doing an internship at the United Nations with Inter Press Service this summer. He has returned to the Bay Area for just a couple of days before going back this weekend. On the last night of the Women's Conference in Berkeley, I had dinner with my friends. When Shahrnush Parsipoor showed up all dressed up to go to the party across the street, I couldn't resist taking a picture of her! Beautiful Luna Shad of VOA asked me to snap this photo of her with the brilliant author. I met sweet Sanam Dolatshahi, Khorshid Khanoom for the first time in person this past weekend. She and Leva posed for me. My good friends Nasrin, Vahid, and Enayat posed with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. I'm sorry I don't know the other lady's name (first from left), but they were all volunteering for the conference, and a great job they did.
Al-vade Vafa! Here are just a few of the many pictures I took last week. As I mentioned, life has been hectic but full of excitement and joy.
When I ran upstairs to pick up my keys and go to work this morning, I found a neatly written letter on my laptop, saying "For Nazy, open it when you get to work!" Curious, I opened it to find out it was a letter from my older son to me. He had written it last night after I had gone to bed. I'm not at liberty to share what it said, but it is one of the most meaningful and beautiful gifts I have ever received in my life. I was late to work again as I had to return to my bedroom to wash my face and reapply my makeup. It has been that kind of day for me, full of unexpected acknowledgements and waves of love and understanding. I wish you the same and a beautiful Friday everyone. I will be spending time with my cousin and my family after work tomorrow and if I have time, I will write again soon. Be good y'all and Happy Friday.

Coming Home

Qajar dance "Golestan-e Pars" depicts lady friends gathered together in a Qajar garden in Shiraz of over 100 years ago moving to correct and pure classical Persian music performed by Katherine St. John's Eastern Arts from WorlDance. (The first minute or so appear dull because the dance takes place behind a filmy curtain. The image improves drastically once the curtain is lifted.)

I know I have been very bad recently! If someone had told me just a few months ago that someday I would be skipping my daily posts and neglecting my blog comments, I would have never believed him! But my life has become so complicated all of a sudden! I have been working on some piled up commitments which I had neglected due to my trip and a weekend which was filled with activity and left me breathless. I have also had guests visiting from other parts of the world, which has been great but distracting me from my routine. Anyhow, this is just to let you all know that I'm well and kicking, and that I miss you all very much. Thank you everybody who worried about my disappearance! Heeh! It's good to be missed. If I can, I will write another post tonight because I have some pictures I want to share with you. I keep flicking that camera with all the different visiting guests and friends as my subjects, and I seldom use those photographs which is a shame (no, I won't give them to others to post everywhere, either, so don't ask!). I will go to the airport tonight after work to pick up another dear guest, this one my dear cousin, Mahtab, about whom I had written not too long ago. I can't wait to see her. I will write again tonight. Be good you all and have a good Thursday evening.


Happy Fourth of July!

City of Pleasant Hill Fourth of July Parade. Photo from here.
Today is a national holiday in the US. Americans celebrate Independence Day by participating in parades, displaying American flags, and attending fireworks after dark. Families get together and have barbeques and picnics, too. I will be going to Berkeley to attend some of the speeches at The 19th International Annual Conference of the Iranian Women's Studies Foundation, which is taking place this weekend, starting today. If there is anything report-worthy, I will report it later.
I am also going to be visiting with my dear friends in Berkeley during the conference. Though I still have a scratchy voice, I am feeling really happy today! Some big worry I had which was weighing me down for a while has been resolved and that makes me even happier today. Life is good and we must never underestimate the power of wishing good things for ourselves and for others, because it really does work! Have a good Friday and holiday everyone!


Mirroring Hope

I'm back, trying to kick the dreadful cold and getting ready to go to work today. This is a picture of an art exhibition I attended in London, featuring Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian's collection Geometry of Hope. My article on the exhibition was published in Iranian.com yesterday, along with my photographs of the beautiful Ayeneh Kari artwork. If you can't access Iranian.com, let me know and I'll think of something else. I will write again tonight. Have a beautiful Thursday everyone!


On A Red Chair

I am at Heathrow Airport's brand new terminal, Terminal 5. I asked someone where to go to find inernet access and I was told: Anywhere on a red chair! So, here I am, waiting for my flight, sharing the moment with you. I met some remarkable Iranians on my trip. Well, of course I had already met the most remarkable ones of the bunch, my dear and old friend Shohreh, her fabulous mother, Malek, and her extraordinary daughter, Shabnam--three generations of fabulous woman and all three my very dear friends! But I also met some exceptional people about whom I will be writing here or elsewhere soon. I did come down with a dreadful cold as soon as I started my vacation, but nothing to deter me from having fun and a wonderful time. I received lovely emails and comments over the past week. Thank you. I also received three surprise text messages (SMS), two of which were from my sons, telling me profound and wise things! Life is beautiful and full of good things if you ask me! I'm running out of battery, so I sign off for now.


I Love London

So, I have been taking it easy, eating, walking about, and shopping. Life is good! The weather is really nice and warm today, on my last day of vacation. I'll go visit my good friend at the BBC today, joining my friends for dinner a little later. Tomorrow I will return and I will have to go on a diet immediately! I love London. Have a good Tuesday you all.