Tuesday, December 6, 2011


As a member of the Lost Generation and a fellow Confused, I often wonder about where the fuck I actually belong. But then I move on and seek comfort in the fact that I actually have the Lost Generation and the Confused category to go back to. It is common knowledge that thou are not able to change the past, so I seek comfort in the idea of constant.
The philosophical side of me some times wonders about who I am? What the fuck am I doing here? How the hell I got here and where the crap I am going to? I feel like different episodes of my life have been played by different people under the same name and identity. The Shabnam who was a little girl living in Iran, the Shabnam who assimilated to the culture of a new country, the Shabnam who had fun with her friends, the Shabnam who fell in love, the Shabnam who survived disasters, the Shabnam who got married, the Shabnam who started a new life and the Shabnam that exists now. They all seem like such different people to me, maybe they were, they probably are. Who knows? No, really, who knows? I want to sit down with that person and have a heart to heart. Is this really it? This is life? Really? Why go through all this trouble for nothing? It is too much trouble for zilch at the end. This might be a joke that is being played on us, so smile for the camera at least. Whatever, I think I am going to play it until the end just to see what the hell happens!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Strawberry Fields

As I was walking down the empty street, deep in my own thoughts, the wonderful smell hit me, the glorious smell of strawberries. My mind climbed up from the windy maze of my thoughts and I raised my head to see one of the most beautiful scenes right there in the middle of my walk. I was passing by a strawberry field, rows and rows of green patches decorated with little tiny almost red berries. The field was empty and was taking advantage of the last hour of sunshine for the day. The sun was packing up to leave for the day and very low in the sky, she looked gorgeous. Although the sky had patches of white clouds, it was mostly reflecting a radiant blue shade that almost looked fake. It was like a beautiful painting, but what made it real and topped it all was the aroma of sweet strawberries; it made this view and experience enchanting. Instead of a quick acknowledgement and continuing with my path (as I usually do), I decided to slow down my steps and take it in. I took deep breaths and took in the smell of the strawberries, looked at the peaceful and proud field and paid my respects to the sun while appreciating the blue sky. It was a good moment.
As I continued on my walk passed the strawberry field I climbed back down into my thoughts, this time taking a different path. I thought about the fact that this may be one the last (if not only) times that I may find myself in such a scenery. In a world where efficiency, practicality, saving time and saving money are priorities, real strawberry fields and real strawberries are at risk of extinction. In a world where buildings in shapes of shopping centers, town homes or office buildings are in fast reproduction mode, fields of fruits are the ones being sacrificed. In a world where the scent of strawberry comes in forms of powder, liquid or even paper, when we come across the real thing it seems foreign and "exotic" to us.
The next time I was strolling down the ails of my local grocery store and came across strawberries, I picked one up and looked at it. It was very red, shiny, the size of the palm of my hand and did not have the slightest scent. I bet if I had bit into it there would be no taste as well. This is what our fruits are coming to, man made, hormoned and fake; they might as well be plastic!
In Seattle, there was a strawberry field where we, the civilians, could go to and pick our own strawberries. We would get a box and fill it with the fruit while munching on them in the warm field and taking our sweet time. At the end we paid for our full box and took the fresh strawberries home. They were tiny little dark red strawberries that smelled and tasted divine, real strawberries. Last year when we went back for our strawberry picking session they informed us that the field was permanently closed. They may be replacing it with condominiums.
I will go back to the street with the strawberry field more often now and I will stop to smell the strawberries and gaze at the field because it may not be there next year.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The weather was not warm due to the clouds and a bit of a breeze, which is why it made that Paris afternoon so much more enchanting and romantic. We started our walk form the formal 28-hectare park, Jardin des Tuileries, across the famous Louvre museum. A historic and grand golden decorated archway marked the park's beginning which led us into a long and wide pathway lined with evenly spaced white sculptures on both sides. The wide walkway was paved with gravel and sandwiched with grass, trees and flowers. Park benches provided resting areas for tourists and locals. A modest pool stood in the heart of the park making the pathway larger and rounder and it housed a more modest fountain in the center of it. Colorful chairs were placed around the pool, I imagine that they would be more in demand on a warmer day. As we walked down the gravel pathway we looked up at the white sculptures that depicted warriors, religious figures, common men and women and wild animals. The clouds and patches of blue sky in the background made the art figures even more memorizing to look at. These ancient art pieces had not made it to the grand museum across the way because of their cheaper material, unlike their marble counterparts. We came to the end of the long walk across the park where we met the park's exit and found ourselves in The square with Concord Obelisk.
The square was very large, wide and grand, just like the Louvre and the park. In the middle of the square stood a tall and slim monument which is an allegory of Law. On each side of the square sat two grand, gaudy, highly decorated and majestic fountains that shot up gallons of water into the sky. The square was lit with beautiful tall lamps that surrounded the street edges. Then came the most wonderful surprise that left us in awe as we looked up to the left and gazed at the top of the Eiffel Tower peaking it's head out from behind the buildings and trees. History says that after the French Revolution (which marked the end of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette), this square was where hundreds of men and women were beheaded. The blood on the ground was so much and the stench in the air was so strong that herds of sheep refused to walk close to this area. Today, it looks beautiful as we crossed it and started walking down Aveue des Champs-Elysees.
Long and wide, this boulevard was the center of many shops, restaurants, cafes and street vendors. It was crowded with cars and pedestrians bustling on by, some tourists and mostly locals, The French! or should I say The Parisians! Shopping, eating, soliciting, walking, smooching, the Parisians were out on the Chaps-Elysees with their great, cool, chic casual style. All the Parisians (men and women) wore scarves, long scarves, short scarves, checkered scarves, plain scarves, striped scarves, tied scarves, wrapped scarves, loos scarves, tight scarves. Scarves here, scarves there, scarves every where, the French like scarves. The shops around the boulevard were not very high end as we walked by Gap, H&M and Zara, so I was surprised to come across a multiple story large Louis Vuiton. I guess that is just another regular store for the fashionable French!
This boulevard was long and we were tired and hungry, it was time for rest and fuel. As much as a French cafe or bistro would fit this scenario perfectly, we decided to dine at a casual Italian restaurant that had side walk seating. We watched with envy the glamorous and cool French walk by as we enjoyed our delicious Italian meal with a side of vino.
My brand new expensive walking shoes bought from Nordstrom specifically for this trip was not being very nice to me and I was not going to let it put a damper on my evening by cutting into the heel of my foot. Therefore a 6 Euro pair of socks was purchased from the little crowded souvenir store in the corner. I made sure that it was engraved with the word "Paris" as it was my first purchase in this glamorous city!
At the end of the Champs-Elysees was what we could see from all the way at the beginning of our walk where we started. The famous monument had been growing bigger and bigger as we had been taking steps toward it. We were at Arc de Triomphe.
Napoleon wanted to create a place where his military victories would be celebrated and displayed, so he chose this hilltop to build a grand Arc. The Arc was built successfully but Napoleon never made it to walk through it (at least alive). Now this grand monument sits proudly on one of the largest roundabouts in the world (the center connects 12 boulevards and streets) and it is the resting place of an unknown soldier. Fresh flowers are always present on the soldier's grave and a fire constantly burns in the center pit. As we stood next to this great archway, we not only marveled at the history that stood behind it, but we also were at awe of the beauty of this memorizing city surrounding us. The narrow brick and stone streets, the elegant balconies on the fancy buildings and the careless and cool feel of it made the city even more special. The wind was becoming faster and stronger and we were on top of a hill so we moved on, we walked back down Champs-Elysees.
As we walked back dusk turned into dark, the clouds started getting heavier and the street lamps were turned on. We passed by cafes and restaurants filled with people dining, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes. We passed by Musee D'Orsay, we passed by a quiet and small park as well as almost empty side walks. And finally, we would not be true Iranians if we did not stop at the famous Iran Air on the Champs-Elysees to pay our respect!
Now we were back in Place de la Concorde square and that was when the night became truly enchanting and romantic. It was night time and dark, the stars were shining through the clouds and there were less cars going by. The square and the surrounding streets were lit by the elegant and fancy lamps that stood tall. The center monument as well as the two fountains were also lit up, yet what was truly shining glorious light on the area was the beautifully lit up Eiffel Tower that not only shined itself, but also displayed a soft light on it's peak which made circles and gazed around the city. It was at that point that the clouds gave in and started drizzling, a beautiful, wonderful, cool, slow and misty rain that made this night unforgettable and truly lovely. We stood in the middle of the square silently, watching the lights, admiring the bright iconic tower, listening to the water splash out of the fountains, looking up at the dark sky, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the smooth drops of rain on our faces. At that point in time we were connected to the far away history and to the present beauty of this lovely city at the same time. It was a magical magical evening in the lovely city of Paris.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Political Party

I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I do not belong to the Independent Party and I do not belong to the Tea Party. I do however have very strong political view points which I am passionate about. I am not a Republican because I am pro choice, I am against war, I am against funding military defense and invasion of other countries, I am against religion and I am against the right to bare arms. I am not a Democrat because I am against raising the tax on the wealthy, I am against supporting illegal immigrants, I am against free handouts such as welfare and government assistance to the poor.
I do not like not belonging to one specific political party because I do not have a category to be in or have boundaries to watch. It is merely the simplicity of stating that I am part of a group which then would pile all of my beliefs into a neat box. Then I would not have to explain what I am for or against, what I support and what I do not support. Oh well, I guess I have to be left out in the cold, without a party, if I am certain and insistent on all of my beliefs, which I am. I often wonder if there is any one else out there, like me, who is standing outside of those neat boxes that house individuals with the same beliefs on all the different issues. There has to be, because not every single person would fit perfectly in those previously wrapped boxes.
So the dilemma comes when it is voting time, which party do I vote for? Democrat? Republican? Independent? Populist? I guess I should prioritize my values in order to decide which party is more friendly to my "more important" beliefs. I would have to weigh in the importance of legal abortions vs. the freedom for all to purchase guns. Which is more important? Which effects me more? I can not decide. I need to weigh in the importance of hard working tax payer's funds paying for an uneducated woman's 6Th childbirth vs. the American military killing millions of innocent people in the Middle East. Which effects me more? I can not decide.
So unless one wholeheartedly belongs to one of the existing parties, they must give up something that they believe in. It does not seem fair, yet the alternative would mean having hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of parties just to make sure that every one has a category with a name that shares all of their view points. That can not be realistic.
The moral of the story is that one can never be fully satisfied and happy with their government as there will always be something they disagree with. However, we need to make sure that we are in touch with our core values and be willing to fight for them.
I am registered as a Democratic voter and I voted for the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2008, but I do not want to be held to that.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Coffee Shop

Once upon a time in a land not too far away there was a little coffee shop that was the center of the earth. The chairs were of aged wood and did not match one another, the tables had been around for centuries as well. The vintage rug covered the floor in front of the ancient fire place and the brown leather couch facing them looked aged. The book shelf housed eclectic books, magazines, fliers and board games that never managed to leave the shelves. The piano sat proudly in the middle of the coffee shop but was humbled and willing when approached by customers. The walls of the coffee shop was home to the work of new and up and coming artists who wished to display their talent. The pictures stayed for a week or two before giving their spots to newer paintings. The ceiling was high and displayed a large chandelier that hung in the center of it, lighting up the spacious room. Two sides of the coffee shop was covered with large windows, floor to ceiling and wall to wall, providing a fantastic view of the busy street corner. The coffee shop counter was a glass display of pastries, cookies and simple sweets. The coffee shop served a simple variety of foods, the lunch and dinner menu consisted of salads, sandwiches and soups and the breakfast menu was a fantastic collection of eggs, potatoes, bread and more. The coffee in this shop was not served in paper cups, but in white mugs or in real cups with saucers. Each cup of coffee was made with tenderness, love and care, as evidenced by the sweet foam design floating on top of the milky drink, made personally by a familiar barista. Some times the design resembled a leaf and at other times it looked like a flower, whatever the design, it was always a sweet treat for the customer to be surprised by a new picture. And finally, the soft background music in the coffee shop was slow jazz.
If you were looking for a place to get a quick bite to eat or grab a quick coffee to go, this coffee shop was not the place for you, but if you were in search of an oasis, then this was the right choice. This coffee shop was where friends met to spend quality time with each other, it was a place where students met to study next to one another, it was a place where new or old couples had dates. This coffee shop was a place where a person could come in alone, get his coffee, possibly a pastry, sit on one of the almost broken chairs and read a book or a newspaper for hours. It was a neighborhood coffee shop which guaranteed you running into one, two or more friends, or a person that knew your name, or at least a person who just knew your face while you were there. In this coffee shop you were never a stranger. The coffee shop was special because no matter how bad things were out in the real world, once inside the lit spacious room with the large windows, a sense of calm would set in as life seemed alright. Loneliness disappeared as you could always find a familiar face who smiled at you.
That coffee shop in the center of the earth was a witness to many life events of it's customers such as chance meetings, romantic encounters, acts of true friendship, graduations, heart breaking break ups, marriages, and just simply growing up or growing old. On one Valentine's eve the coffee shop watched one broken hearted woman be comforted by a friend as they talked for hours over two cups of coffee and admired a beautiful display of falling snow outside. As the snow danced to the tune of soft jazz music and the lights from the chandelier flickered, the coffee shop watched a healing of a heart. One morning the coffee shop watched and laughed as one woman blushed to the fullest when she watched through the large windows a pack of naked men running across the street outside, while meeting with a very serious and conservative man.
So this coffee shop in the center of the earth was a neighborhood oasis, a familiar reminder of friendship, fun, love and good coffee. It slowed down the lives of the people who came across it and fell in love with it, as it gave comfort to those who needed it.
Many years have passed since the days of the coffee shop and that street corner is not the home to that oasis any more. The coffee shop owner and workers are gone and so are the chairs, the rug, the couch and the piano. Some of the most dedicated and loyal customers have even moved far away, and those who are still around are left with out. It is a sad sight to see, an empty feeling in place of what used to be warmth, comfort and friendship. But the memory of the coffee shop in the center of the earth stays with each and every person who fell in love with it, as it will always have a small chapter in the book of their lives.

This post is dedicated to JJJ and friends.