Saturday, March 29, 2008


I was deeply angered and disrespected by the fact that a supervisor at my work was wearing a sweatshirt, sandals with socks and had frizzy hair during a meeting. I snapped at my team for not completing their paperwork in a timely manner and was furious at my co-worker for taking my regular parking spot.
While driving I did not let cars pull in front of me for the life of me and I had steam coming out of my ears when I was stuck behind the little Asian woman in a mini van who was only going the speed limit. I could almost scream when I hit every single red light on my way from home to the freeway (there are 11 lights).
I was extremely annoyed at my friend for leaving me too long of a message on my cell phone voice mail and I hated the neighbor for talking outside of my window.
Every single thing my husband did and said sat on my last nerve and frustrated me to the point that I did not wish to speak to him. I wondered how he has the audacity to leave his shoes where they would trip me. I was deathly angry at him for using my magazine as a coaster, eating chips and breathing too loudly!
The breaking point was when I was balling my eyes out as a result of my husband not being excited to go to the grocery store with me. I was genuinely distraught believing that I have a horrible life and wondering why I married this guy! I mean how could he not want to go shopping with me on a Sunday night when he is relaxing under the throw on the couch? The poor guy was standing by my side wondering for the love of god why the hell I am crying so hard. He has no idea what is wrong with me and of course I am not telling him why, because he should know and he will not understand anyway!
The next day was the 28Th day of my month, when "khaleh goli" or "auntie rose" visits. That is when I realized why I had been having such a "difficult" life in the past few days (oops).
It is not just I who suffers on the week preceding the "visit", but it is every one and any one who I associate with or come in contact with, especially the unfortunate ones who I am closest to. It is as hard for me as it is for them, actually feeling and believing the negative thoughts. The anger, the hurt, the frustration and the extreme annoyance is real.
Now to think that every single month for one whole week I and every one around me suffers, how fair is that? I keep reminding myself that "this" is good for my health and it is the nature of life. I remind myself that the connection between my body and the universe should bring me closer to the earth and the sun and the freaking moon. It does not help. After the emotional roller coaster I have to deal with the excruciating pain, the bloating and the utter discomfort, let alone the mere disgusting nature of the entire process. How could any one expect me not to strangle the cashier for taking her sweet time?
I am all about fairness and equality. I also know that these are the cards that we have been dealt with as women and we have to live with it and suffer. However, I believe that us women going through all of the tortures of life such as this are entitled to a prize, special treatment or any sort of reimbursement, just to make life fair. I do not know what or how but as god (or this laptop) as my witness I will find a way to make this world and this universe fair. You wait and see!

Monday, March 17, 2008

So. Cal. Iranians

When I lived in Seattle I was a proud Iranian. I liked shopping at the Iranian stores, listening to Iranian music, eating at the Iranian restaurants and I loved attending Iranian events. We had a great Iranian community where 2/3 of us knew each other and liked one another. There were only a handful of small Iranian convenient stores, so every one knew the store owner by name and had a little chat with him when they stopped by for a new CD or some hot Persian Wax. Same with the friendly and warm Iranian restaurants where the waiters were the restaurant owners. The events such as concerts, plays or 13bedar were merely a reunion between friends, family and acquaintances. They were fun festivities and gatherings where every one caught up with their parent's friends, their old high school buddies or just hung out with one another. It was also a place to meet new people and expand our circle of friends. People were comfortable, friendly and down to earth, having pure fun. That was the reason why I attended each concert, went to every event, shopped at the stores, ate chenjeh at the restaurants and the reason why 13bedar was one of my favorite events.
Then I moved to Southern California.
At first I was excited to be amongst the largest and most popular Iranian community outside of Iran. A place where we, the non-Californians believed was fun, exciting and where every thing was happening. I was right, I was awed by all of the different Iranian stores, businesses, restaurants, TV shows, radio shows, clubs, parties, events and the big population. I was overwhelmed by all of the cultural and language overload and I was looking forward to socialize with my kind. Wrong!
The first couple of times that I was hit in the ass with a shopping cart in the Iranian grocery store and received no apology or had my cart (with groceries in it) picked up by another shopper who did not have their own I disregarded it. The first few times that I was cut off while trying to park in the Iranian store or restaurant parking lot by a Mercedes or a BMW and had my intended parking space stolen I disregarded it. When the waitress (who disregarded her lip line when she was putting on her lipstick in the morning) did not offer me a smile or a second glass of Coke at the Iranian restaurant I blamed the big crowd and the lack of help. Eventually I noticed a trend. Even though it was a general difference between L.A. and Seattle as a whole, where customer service and common courtesy just dropped significantly, I felt it stronger in the Iranian community than the American one. Maybe it was because I cared about the Iranian community more or it was because I did not expect it from "them", therefore I was more hurt by it.
It was at the clubs and at the big events when I really noticed the difference between the population in which I was used to and the one I was now living amongst. I did not feel the warm and friendly aura that I used to feel when I attended these events in my old home. Instead I felt coldness, snootiness, competition and judgement. Even though this new crowd looked beautiful, trendy and hip I had no desire to be around them. Creating a line outside of a building to make it look popular and not allowing respectful adults to enter in order to seem "high end" was just not appealing to me. I always left the event with a bitter taste in my mouth instead of the sweetness that I was used to.
It was when I heard a commercial on the Iranian radio stating "show your worth and power to others by driving a Jaguar" that I was appalled and changed the station. Even my relatives who lived in this land shocked me by being as unwelcoming as possible in spite of appearing otherwise. My heart was broken by the dishonesty.
Slowly I stopped shopping at the Iranian stores, I stopped listening to the Iranian radio, I did not eat at the Iranian restaurants as much and stayed away from the Iranian clubs more often. I even stopped trying to establish a relationship with my relatives here who each time insisted that "we need to see each other more". I reached a point where when searching for a physician or dentist I made sure to skip the Iranian names as I made a point to stay away from "them".
In addition to my family and friends I really missed the fun and caring Iranian crowd of my old home. I missed the public gatherings where familiar and new people met, talked and socialized with out walls, with out pretense and with out the Gucci high heels in the park or the big sun glasses in the clubs.
In order to be fair I have to say that I was very lucky to be able to find a great group of Iranian people in L.A. who did not fit this stereotype (I know I am guilty of stereotyping, but whatever) who befriended me and I consider them good friends that I love.
When I moved to Orange County from Los Angeles County I did see a difference between the two in the Iranian community. Even though the difference was not significant, yet things were more tolerable and that is what helped me to come back from Jaded Ville. Some of the women still wear gigantic rocks on their fingers, have blond hair and do not smile. Some of the men still cut in line, smoke in non-designated areas and cut you off in the road. But I have learned to accept and change myself.
One thing that I have learned is that I love my culture and I do not wish to shut it out of my life because of others. The other thing that I have learned is that one can not change people, however one can change oneself. We can change the way we see others and how they make us feel. I do not expect "these people" to change and I will not let them make me hate my culture and "my people".
I chose not to listen to the L.A. radio station, but I have found another great online station from the East Coast, where I get my dose of Iranian music from. I chose to do my main grocery shopping at the civilized American super markets, but for my dose of Iranian herbs, pastries and food that I love as well as the much needed Persian wax I stop by the Iranian market. I park far away, keep my cart close to me at all times and take deep breaths and smile when the lady has no shame for blocking the aisle with her cart. I chose my events carefully and do not let little things bother me. I celebrate Iranian events to the fullest with the high quality people who I have surrounded myself with.
I still try to stay away from Iranians professionally (except for issues pertaining to my hair since they are the only ones who know how to fix the frizz and do fabulous up dos) because I am not comfortable with the level of their honesty and genuineness. However socially, Iranians are the only group of people who I have the most fun with.
At the end like it or not I am one of "them" and I cannot help but to want to be part of "them". By changing my attitude and using my gift of "choice" I am able to have the good of all worlds.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


With apologies to all the real poets out there...

Ba yek negahat mara be asemanha bordi
Ba yek labkhand az khod bi khodam kardi

Didam o gom shodam dar siahi
har che didam to o to boodi

Ba yek eshareye to azizam
Ghalbam o tanam ra maleh khod kardi

Dar an rooz fekreh emrouz ra nakardam
khoshbakht boodam o hamrah ba ghalbam

Kash behem migoftai ei eshghe man
Akharash dareh mireseh gheseye to o man

Hala man moondam o khateratam ba to
Roozo shab delam hast be donbaleh to

Yek negahat yek labkhandat yek esharehat
Ba man ast ta roozeh akhar nazaninam.

Shabnam- 2thousand something

Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the motel room

As I was driving down the very long Beach Blvd. I noticed the change in the scenery when I entered the "different" part of town. The car models became older, the street trash increased and there was an increase in wall art. I started passing by little beat up Motels with names such as "Rainbow", "Pacific" and "Royal". I finally turned into one of them and parked my car. The motel was old, run down and crowded. There were two young boys in white undershirts sitting outside of one of the rooms and watching me park my still new car. I tried to act aloof while making 100% certain to lock the car door and to take all of my valuables with me. As I walked down the path to my destination I passed by numerous children ages 2-14 playing, talking, shouting and running. They made way for me and quieted down when they noticed by my attire and attitude that I was a "visitor".
I arrived at room 201 where I had a scheduled meeting and knocked. I walked into the little room containing two small beds, one bed stand in between them, an armoir with a TV on it and a doorway to a tiny bathroom. The room was dark, had a strong scent of cigarettes and all of the table surfaces were covered with clothes, food and other "things". The room contained many things because a mother and son lived in it and that was their home. They are lucky that it is only the two of them as the rest of the families living in that motel and other similar motels fit a parent and 4-5 children in one room (very different than my bubble in Irvine). The mother and son were joined by the father who was new to the family after being absent for many years. We sat on the beds which were made neatly for this hour and had our meeting.
The mother works as a housekeeper, however her income is no where close to making the motel payments. She is missing some teeth and the rest of them are in bad shape. Her voice is so coarse and deep due to a lifetime of smoking. She reported missing many days of work due to continuous illness, therefore unable to pay for her housing.
The father was recently released from prison after years of incarceration. Since in prison he participated in a substance abuse program he was awarded a program for after his release. He is provided with housing, job training and a savings program, as well as continued substance abuse monitoring. He is motivated and ready for a new life, promising that he will be there for his family and start helping them financially when his program is completed.
The son is 11 years old and is diagnosed with ADHD. He cannot sit still to concentrate and participate in the meeting. He continues to be scolded, warned and attacked by his parents for either placing his feet on the bed or "messing around" with the different items in the room.
Before I left the meeting the parents agreed to be consistent with taking their child to therapy and for mother to make contributions to their weekly motel payments. Their goal is to move into permanent housing where they can sustain independently and for their son to attend school regularly, passing his classes. We all felt positive and motivated to move toward the beautiful goals, just like we did one year ago.
As I was walking back to my car, other than hoping that it is still there, I had an enormous feeling of satisfaction. I was awed for having the honor and privilege to come into these people's home and to get a chance to assist them in any way that I can. They welcome me into their private world and open up their home to me, trusting me with their vulnerabilities and problems. Problems so shameful that being invited into them is humbling. I am so lucky to have the power to help these families live better lives and to find goals and to possibly reach them.
To think that I have the power to change lives for the better is liberating to me. To help change the lives of the people who have been forgotten due to the fact that they are not wealthy or have not had the opportunities that the rest of us had. The people who others (selfish others) do not wish to hear about for "it is depressing". Not only it is not "depressing", it is a source of such a wonderful feeling, hope.
How many people have the privilege and this kind of satisfaction in their day to day work? To get paid for helping underprivileged people, how cool is that? Even though the financial reimbursement is not significant, the look on the families faces when you tell them that you will pay for their rent is more than enough.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Letting go of my prodigy

Her mother called to give me the good news, she has been accepted to a University. She said that it was a "bitter sweet" news because the university is a good one, however 2 hours away from where they live. The acceptance letter had placed a large grin on her face (not very common for her) since her goal has always been to move far away from home.

I could not help but to think back to just a few years ago which to me feels like merely weeks before. The time when I used to change her diaper, make her bottle (3 scoops of powder for 6 oz. of warm water) and hold her little body in my arms. Once during a diaper change (I only assisted on #1) there was an unexpected #2 revealed which prompted me to scream. The unexpected loud screech caused her to cry resulting in me being yelled at by her mother. Another time when I was watching her I placed her on her little blue fluffy chair in order to attain her bottle from the kitchen. I watched her head weigh her down frontward and by the time I ran to her she hit the ground and was hurt.
She was the cutest little girl that I or any one els had ever seen. She had straight black hair down to her neck with bangs, huge cheeks and enormous black eyes. She was always in ruffly, fluffy lacy pink dresses with matching head bands or hair clips. She was always quiet, proud, mature and definitely had a higher IQ than all of her peers.
A few years later she had braces, wore eye glasses and had frizzy hair. She calls that her "dorky faze". During her early adolescent years she continued to show a higher level of maturity and pride than others her age. That is also when apparently she looked up to and admired me (from her own report). She believed that I was "cool" and what I did, said and wore was radical. I was young, I knew all about the celebrity gossips, I never took the parent's side and I had exciting stories to tell about my self and my friend's chaotic lives. She used to spend time in my room, trying on my clothes and shoes, posing in front of the full length mirror as she loved my closet.
Slowly my coolness decreased because as time went by I was not familiar with the hot new boy bands or today's trends any longer. I started shopping at different stores that definitely were not cool for school, and my shoes no longer fit her growing feet. I gradually leaned toward the parent's arguments than the teenager's and the occasions that I agreed with her mother increased. And finally my friends and I started leading more mundane lives. Slowly her level of coolness exceeded mine as I became Ann Taylor and she became Abercrombie & Fitch. I became "9 to 5" and she became "sleep until noon".
I am happy to say that the different levels of coolness did not affect our closeness. We truly get each other due to the fact that we are alike in many ways. The family always compares her to me, stating (complaining to her with a sigh when they are frustrated) "you are just like your aunt". The topics that her parents and grand parents always scold her for are the exact same ones that I used to be harassed for. She does not "listen" and "does her own thing no matter what every one els says", she "eats unhealthy junk", she "cares more about how she looks rather than her education" and she is "lazy". I am very proud as she is my prodigy.
Now she is graduating high school and will be off to college, COLLEGE! It is very hard for me to believe how grown up she is. It is especially odd when I hear the word "my car" come out of her mouth, since I still have not become used to her driving, let alone having her own car and living alone. Is this the same girl with the little pink socks?
She will be part of the real world, she will have close friends and possibly fall in love. It is hard to watch her go and to see that she does not need us any longer. She does not care about my closet any more and she is no longer entertained by my stories as she will have an exciting life of her own to lead. I will be a "has been", an old hag, a meddler, a "wanna be", the crazy aunt! Maybe some day she will come back to take care of me when I am too old to get myself to the bathroom.

Even though I wish that I could keep her close to me and never let her go I know that it is the cycle of life and she will have to live out her own independent journey. I just feel that I did not have enough time to hold that little tiny girl in my arms and play with her. I was not given a chance to savor each moment and I was not ready to let go of my prodigy yet, believing that I still had time. Where did the time go? She grew up with out telling me!

Monday, March 3, 2008

My buddy

She likes every thing that I like and dislikes every thing I do not like. We like the same style of music, the same type of books and enjoy the same hobbies. We always agree on what movie to watch and which radio station to listen to in the car. We come to a quick consensus on the choice of restaurant and we never disagree on whether or not it is time to go home.
We have not always been so close, in fact there was a time when I refused to be alone with her, spending most of my time with other friends and family. There was a time when I was even embarrassed to be seen alone with her. I would never go to the movie theatre or to just sit and have a cup of coffee at the coffee shop with her. I would only spend time with her as the last resort.
Some times she judges me and makes me feel bad for not being good enough, yet she continues to be encouraging. At times she becomes angry at me for the wrong choices that I make and does not wish to look at me, but other times she is supportive and understands why I do the things that I do. She understands my feelings, where they come from and how they should be treated. She also knows my shortcomings and weaknesses. So many times she tries hard to direct me to the right path or press me to go into my deep issues in spite of my resistance. She always knows when I am dismissing or blocking negative thoughts and advises me to tackle them head on. That is when I want to shut her out. Some times she makes me laugh so hard that I almost pee in my pants, yet at other times she makes me cry. Most of all, she is always there to help me up when I have fallen, to dust off the shame and hurt and to carry me on. Her words are always with me: "no worries, things will be OK, you can handle this, you are strong".
Lately I have been spending a lot more time with her (not by choice, but mainly due to circumstances) and I have come to know her very well. At times we spend an entire day together, just us, reading, eating, exercising and cooking. We go to the book store, the beach and the mall together. We take long walks, watch our favorite TV shows, sing our favorite songs and I even like going to the movie theatre with her now. We go on bike rides, smoke a cigarette here and there and sit on the porch and read Glamour. I stroll down the store isles with her, I go to the swimming pool with her and I attend Yoga classes with her. She is my companion for many breakfasts and dinners as well as other lonely times. She is actually pretty cool and a fun person to hang out with. I especially love her because when every one in the world is either too busy or too far she is there, she is my buddy.
I have learned many things about her that I was previously not aware of. I enjoy spending quality and quiet time with her, she gives me peace. I like to listen to what she is thinking and feeling and to try to understand her better. I am actually starting to understand why she is the way she is and who she has become. She is some one who I fully trust to keep my deepest, darkest and most intimate secrets away from the prowling ears.
We still irritate each other some times, but I have realized that she is the closest person to me. Although she is the one person who expects the most from me, yet she is also the one who can motivate me, encourage me, give me energy and hold me up when I just want to fall. She is always there when no one els is. She is my best friend and I can see her familiar face looking back at me in the mirror every day.