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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seattle and Vancouver

I didn't know how much I'd enjoy Seattle and Vancouver. To be honest, this was kind of a random trip - a trip inspired from a friend whilst sitting on a bench one evening in Brooklyn. He told me stories of his year and somewhere in that story he mentioned Seattle.

Hmmm, Seattle huh? Maybe I'll go there. And then I realized how CLOSE Seattle is to Vancouver and then before I knew it I had a ticket in hand and a car reserved. BUT I wasn't at all sure what to expect. I knew I'd see good people - people I love - but didn't know how much I would actually enjoy the places.

It also helps tremendously that all the people that live in these places are excited by and love where they live. Everyone I met and talked to in both locations spoke about their city in the same way I speak of Brooklyn. It made it more attractive. People are happy living here. The mountains, the air, the trees, the bridges, the water....it has the best of all worlds.

I became a fan of Seattle and Vancouver on this trip. And, never thought I'd say this, but can actually imagine living in this area. Don't know when and don't know IF, but it's been the one place so far, that I can actually imagine myself in. Somewhere down the line. Sometime when Brooklyn is done with me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

new things.

sometimes it is the most unexpected things that fill you with joy and allow you to experience things you didn't think you wanted to or needed to experience. a new place, new people, new surroundings. you don't realize how bogged down you can get with the mundane-ness (if that's even a word) of your every day. and suddenly a small little something, a tiny little moment can become all you ever needed.
getting out of your norm allows you a perspective that you otherwise may not feel, see, or understand. it allows you to appreciate other parts of yourself that you yourself may be taking for granted and it lets you hear and see things that you don't normally hear and see.
it's good. it opens you up.
it's that opening up that allows us to stay young and to remain curious. always wanting to know more. to do more. to grow.

Monday, December 19, 2011

its been a year.

Last year at this time, my grandmother passed away. This year, my mind keeps flashing back to moments that occurred last year, as if trying to recreate the memories and make them fresh for me.
The moment the call came, my sisters broken voice on the other end of the phone.
Scrambling around my apartment, not certain what to do first. Airline, suitcase, work emails, work calls, rental car, ride to the airport, packing, crying, packing, crying.
The plane ride home. Long.
Touched ground in Tucson and so many voicemails sending their condolences. Drive home.
Silence. Hugged my sister, cried. Empty in the house. Empty in the room where she was.
And then the whirlwind of planning. Meeting with the funeral home, visiting the cemetery grounds, family calling, family emails, planning the program. Everyone arriving. The house full full full of people. Running errands, making sure we have everything. No time to process.
The night before we went to the funeral home for the wrapping of the body, I laid down on the couch to sleep. Every room in the house was filled with people. I was out in the living room. I closed my eyes and then saw her, the image of her, so clear in my mind. Lying on her bed, holding my hand, giving me advice. And that moment I lost it. It was the first time I had truly cried in mourning.
The days that followed were filled with visits and eating and organizing and lots of stories and lots of prayers. We prayed together - chanted in Persian and in English. We watched so many videos of her and laughed together and cried together.
All those memories just fill my head now. It's been a year her soul took flight. It's been a year I haven't held her soft wrinkled hands and told her I loved her. It's been a year she has been gone.
And today I miss her so much. My heart aches.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

oh for the love of Amtrak.

today i was to travel from DC to NYC. an easy trip. i sometimes drive, and a lot of times i take the bus. the first time i ever made a trip to DC i took the china town bus. it was 7 years ago and i had just moved to the City and ever so desperately wanted to travel down to DC for the weekend to visit my family.
i got to 88 broadway, where the bus was supposed to load, and it felt literally as if i had walked into china and was about to travel by bus in a foreign country. i remember to this day being squished between the loads of passengers packed onto the bus and being thrilled that this entire trip cost me nothing more than $18.

since then, other buses making that route have begun to take over and so bolt bus, equipped with wifi and outlets has made its way to being my mode of transportation. it's a fine ride. does the trick. but. for some reason, today, when i got to union station to try and catch the 5pm bus to NYC (which, incidentally would not have gotten me into the city before 9:45pm, i SOMEHOW ended up at the amtrak counter asking about trains.

"there is a 4:20 leaving straight to NYC." (i looked down at my phone. 4:16.)
"and, how long does it take?"
"you'll be in NYC by 7:30." (dream come true)
my heart started to race.
"is there wifi?"
"yes ma'am."
"outlets?"
"uh huh." getting clearly annoyed.
"is there a bathroom?" she looks straight up at me and laughs.
"ma'am, what do you think this is? of course there is a bathroom!"
not effected in the slightest by her mockery.
"you don't have like a discount or anything? like. you know, i'm a teacher. no?"
i knew the answer before she even looked up at me from behind her glasses.
"will i even make the 4:20?"
"you will if you stop asking me questions."
NOT even stopping to THINK about this (expensive) decision.
"OK! let's do it!"

4 minutes later i'm in a very fancy and very comfortable train. making my way to the City. 2 hours earlier than expected.

Friday, December 16, 2011

good ol Whitney.

You know how smells can you remind you of a place or a time? Like for me Herbal Essences shampoo will always remind me of the year I lived in a trailer in South Carolina. When I smell that I am 18 again and the rural South is my home. I remember everything from that time when Herbal Essences hits the nostrils.

Songs will often have the same impact. I was lying in bed last night and the music from the street was particularly loud. It's usually pretty bad, but tonight it was as if someone had turned the radio on right in my room. I was ABOUT to get annoyed until I head the song. I Will Always Love You - by Whitney Houston. And I was immediately transported to 19. Just dropped my boyfriend at the time off at the airport. I had woken up at 4am to drive him. He had come to visit me for a week and we argued and laughed and cried, and then argued some more, the whole time, as was indicative of our relationship. And we were pretty quiet the whole way to the airport. I parked the car and walked him to his gate - you could do that then. We hugged. And when we did, we both knew this would not last and not go anywhere.
I got back in the car, heaving crying, and played Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You, for the whole hour ride home. Each time it played, I sang louder and cried harder. Each time the dramatic pause arrived and then she HIT that note, I swear my voice started sounding more like hers.

Last night that song reminded me of everything I loved about him and all the reasons I'm thankful we said goodbye.

smoke in the living room.

I'm writing this here because, quite frankly, I have no where else to write it. My house reeks of smoke. Cigarette smoke that is, and there is nothing I can do about it, or so it seems. My roommate and I do not smoke, but someone, somewhere, in the building, does. We have no idea where it is coming from, but have deciphered that it is making its way through our vents.
Management has been contacted more than once. No answers have been given. Actually, no reply indicating that it is even being worked on, has been given.
I'd like to think that I am a relatively patient person, but on this issue, my patience is running low low low. I am not sure what the solution really is, but it just seems SO unfair to begin coughing in your own home and having your clothes smell like cigarettes, when you are not the one smoking. It seems that headaches that come from the smell of smoke and not being able to invite friends over who are allergic to smoke, is not really fair if you are paying rent for a place?
Maybe not. Maybe I'm being too picky about all this.
Literally had no where else to vent.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

photography.

i have this other blog that i started that is called: iPhotographer. it's a blog that contains ONLY photos that i take with my iPhone. i found myself talking loads of photos with my iPhone and having no place to "dump" them. facebook didn't feel like the right venue so www.sahbarohani.tumblr.com seemed to fit the bill.

i've always had a love for photography. it's always been something i enjoy. but i have never had a real camera. well, that's not true. i once bought one from a stoop sale in Brooklyn for $90 but it wasn't digital. which had its charm but since it took so long to see the prints, it just lost it's luster.

so today. today in the mail, i got a real camera. it was a birthday gift from my family. and i am so super excited to actually try it out. the battery is charging as we speak. and i can't wait for it to finish so i can begin playing. here is to giving time to small pleasures.

feeling kinda off.

i like to think of myself as a glass half full kind of person. i look at a situation and MOST of the time, i can see the good in it or try and see it from a different perspective. most of the time, things don't feel like a big deal - they are what they are and i handle them.

and then. and THEN there are those days where everything just kinda feels off. you look at things and don't see the good side to it. you feel just exhausted and burnt and kinda all alone. you spiral into "deep" thinking that might not even be all that good for you. and probably isn't really deep thinking anyway. a total funk.
hate feeling like that.

it comes in small spurts. but when it comes, it just exhausts me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

remembering my grandmother

A year ago on Thanksgiving I saw my grandmother for the last time. I came to visit with my father, who was in the country for a few weeks, and we went to stay with my sister and brother-in-law, where my grandmother resided in her final days.

I remember her being so extremely weak and tired during this last visit. It took her even longer to eat her meals and to move around with her walker. She had lost so much weight. Her eyes, which usually shone with a spark of light, looked tired and worn out. She only seemed to really smile when she saw my niece, then only 3 months old. She would look at her and chuckle and clap for her. And my niece would just stare and smile - like we used to do when we were younger.

This Thanksgiving I went to visit my grandmothers resting place. I remembered our last time together, but I also remembered all the times before that. When she was healthy and laughing and taking such good care of me. I remember the tiny Persian sandwiches of feta cheese and pita bread she'd make for me and the stories she would sit by my bed at night and tell. I remembered the food she made and the hugs she gave. And how every time I left home for a trip she asked that God take care of me and make me happy and healthy (then she'd slip me a $20). She was full of love, full of kindness, and full of faith. I love everything about her and miss her every single day. It was nice to spend some time remembering her on Sunday. With the sun shining down and the desert landscape stretching on for miles.

It was so nice to have just those few moments of quiet with her.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving.

Traveling on Thanksgiving weekend is often times a nightmare. Everyone is rushing to the airport, the lines at security are so long, everyone is nervous about getting to the right place at the right time. It's often so stressful. It makes you forget what you are actually supposed to be celebrating - thankfulness.
But I think I figured out the trick. You might think this is a terrible idea, but really, it's brilliant. Leaving Thursday morning, instead of any time Wednesday, changes your life. There is virtually no line at the airport, smooth sailing all through security. And everyone is so super friendly. Everyone wishes a happy Thanksgiving to everyone else and people are relaxed.
And you get to sleep. You basically sleep all of Thanksgiving morning as you are transported to your family.
Then you step off the plane, JUST in time for Thanksgiving dinner. You walk into the house and there is turkey and cranberry sauce and mac&cheese and mashed potatoes.
Then later, there is pumpkin pie. It's a perfect dream.
Sleep all day and arrive to a delicious meal.
My second favorite holiday. And this just makes it even better.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

that movie...

Your know those movies set in New York City where the girl is waiting for a cab, her arm stuck straight into the air for what seems like hours, and then finally that yellow dream pulls up, ready to take her?

You know what I'm talking about right?
And then you know the part where a guy in a suit intercepts, opens the door of the cab, and jumps in, before the girls even realizes what just happened?
And you think - jeez, what a #&*()@#@^&*, can't believe someone would do that.
Well, it happened. For real. In the West Village last night. To this girl/me.

The movies actually ARE based on reality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Facebook: Society and Identity

Eleanor sat at her desk, her nose just inches away from the screen, her fingers clicking quickly as she cropped and adjusted the light and gradient of the photograph in front of her. Finally! Perfect.

She sat back to admire her handiwork. The couple staring back at her looked so happy. Their smiles were wide and their faces were animated. The truth is, she and Richard hadn’t laughed together like that in months. Ever since the miscarriage, they hardly even made eye contact. But that night, the night this photograph was taken, they were at the wedding of a close friend and the best-mans speech was funny. They had both laughed and at the same exact moment that someone at the table had snapped a shot.

Eleanor took a deep breath and let the reality of her and Richards situation fade away as the image on the screen sprung to life. She logged on to Facebook and navigated her profile to the photo uploading section. She clicked a few more times and then the blue bar popped onto the screen, showing that the photo was indeed making its way to the Internet.

98%, 99%, 100%. Done!

She picked up her cup of coffee and headed for the kitchen. The smell was strong and filled her with a caffeine fix before the rich brown liquid had even been poured into her cup. She filled it to the rim, tightened up her bathrobe and headed to the refrigerator to make some breakfast. Eleanor took out the ingredients for omelets. He’ll probably leave without wanting any breakfast, she thought. She slowly put all the ingredients back in and pulled out the carton of milk. She began pouring her cereal when she heard his footsteps coming down the hall. His cologne reached her before he did. “Morning,” he whispered, as he passed behind her to the cupboard with the mugs. She felt like she was in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, knowing there were people around her but not wanting to look up. The silence was deafening. Her spoon scraped the sides of the ceramic bowl and filled the kitchen with echoes. She searched her mind for something to say, wanting to break the uncomfortable feeling that was creeping into her body.

“The Thompsons called about dinner on Saturday. Should I tell them we are going?” Eleanor finally broke the silence.

“Sure,” Richard replied, barely looking up from his paper.

“Alright, I’ll call Jayne back today. I always love dinner at their place. The desserts she makes are so good. Remember last time? That was delicious. I loved every bite. I mean, obviously I did, I tried to recreate it myself. Ugh, remember what the kitchen looked like after that – I mean, what a mess…”

“Uh-huh”.

Richard’s semi-response cut her off. She could barely see his face. He was hidden behind the New York Times and it didn’t look like he was coming out any time soon.

Eleanor finished her cereal, put the bowl in the dishwasher and headed out of the kitchen and back into her office.

“Bye.” She barely heard Richard before the door slammed behind him.

“Bye,” she said, to the empty room. She sat at her mahogany desk and swiveled around in her chair just in time to see the car pull out of the driveway. She turned back around and faced her computer. Her elbow hit the desk and the screen came back to life. There they were – laughing. She scrolled down:

OMG you guys are too cute!

I love this! You are still the perfect couple.

I can just feel the love – still look like you did the day you got married!

Thanks for showing us how it’s really done, El!

This is the best picture of you guys, you look so happy! Miss you…


She felt the sadness lifting. At least somewhere they were happy. At least frozen on the screen, with all their friends watching, they were still the happy couple she knew and loved. At least somewhere.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

what season is it any way?

the weather has been so crazy this season. on the last weekend in October, we had a snow storm - a full fledged enormous stow storm. so much so that many families in Connecticut still do not have their power back on from it.
and then today, today it was just sunny. it felt like the first day of Spring even though it is mid-November.
what is going on?
i am not complaining. i love all the good weather, but it just seems so strange.
i stood in the park today surrounded with trees of glorious colors - reds, yellows, browns, oranges - and i took in deep, deep breaths. i told myself to remember this moment of peace and freedom. this moment of standing in the park with my short sleeved shirt, i told myself to make a memory of, so that i could access it as soon as the weather begins turning a bitter cold not just for a day but for a couple of months that feel like eternity.

i hope that mental picture stays in my mind until at least mid-March.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

listening.

I was at a workshop last weekend and the presenter said something that I have still been thinking about. She said that we can usually tell in the first 10 seconds of talking to someone whether or not we agree with them. The time proceeding that initial 10 seconds is spent thinking about what you are going to say in return and, if you disagree, thinking of your argument points.

Since that day I started to be more aware of this and catch myself after that 10 seconds and literally tell my brain to re-focus and really listen to the other person.

I'm wondering how much more different our interactions would go if we actually all did that. If we actually all listened to one another and were present in that conversation rather than trying to guide, manipulate, or judge it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

reflection and communication

life is all about reflecting on who you are, what you have done, and what you want to do better. sometimes you are tired and you say things the wrong way. sometimes you are emotional and you snap instead of explain. and sometimes you feel something but then the words that come out don't actually match that feeling.
a lot of times, you might just be misunderstood.
that's where the reflection comes in. was i really being the best person i could be? could what i said have been misunderstood? what is my intention?
it's hard living in a world with other people. we all have our own needs and desires and wants. and we all, a lot of the time, think we are right. so we don't listen. we just tolerate until someone is done speaking.
it's about navigating all that difference and finding common ground. and understanding that peoples intentions matter. and trying to understand things from a different perspective.
it's important to do that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

brooklyn hallow

Halloween has always been a fun holiday for me. When I was younger, my mom would sew my costumes and we'd go out trick or treating. I loved everything about that day. Just the thrill of being out at night, no inhibitions, candy, and fun.

Tonight I strolled my neighborhood just to watch the kids enjoy this day.
I was pleased to find YET another thing to love about my neighborhood. An entire block was sectioned off with food and ice cream trucks, and a huge stage and set had been built in front of a brownstone with a rendition of Hansel and Gretel going. It was spectacular. Children of all shapes and sizes were decked out in costumes, along with their grown up counter-parts.


Down the street a jazz band played and a faux boxing rink was set up for a fight between Godzilla and another slimy creature. People dancing and drinking and dressed as scary creatures of the night.
It was just one of those moments when you miss being a kid. When you can look at the excitement on their little faces and remember that exact feeling and those precise emotions. One of those nights when you remember all the good things about your childhood and can't wait to share it with your own little one one day.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Playing with fiction...

I've been working a lot on my writing for my Fiction class. So my blog entries have been a bit fewer and further between. I have found fiction to be a challenge for me since most of my writing thus far is pulled from personal experience and re-telling a memory. In this writing class I have had to push myself to think of other characters, other settings, other circumstances. It's been a challenge, but one that I have been enjoying.
Below is my homework assignment on "description". Surprisingly, I got great feedback from my teacher on this. So thought I'd share something I was working on outside of blogging...


My heart is pounding so loudly in my chest. Its rhythm becomes the backdrop of my steps, also pounding heavily on the long stretch of pavement before me. The flood of stars hanging above me like tiny Christmas lights offer the only light for miles. The desert glows in a magical way, hiding the undercurrents of fear that may exist.

The grey v-neck American Apparel shirt that I almost always wear on my visits here is completely soaked through with the sweat from my body - half induced from emotion and half a result of the heat. The temperature rarely cools, even after the sun has set. The experience is similar to that of the dry saunas at my spa back home. Except there I take deep cleansing breaths and then leave when the heat becomes unbearable. Here, there is no leaving. The hot air swirls through your nostrils and occupies your lungs. The heat from the pavement rises up and stings the face, like a slap. It wouldn’t be the first of the night.

The silence is almost deafening and allows the pounding from my heart and the soles of my feet to echo and bounce around trying to find space in my head. Once in a while there is a rustle from the bushes off to the side. They sway and shake, depending on the size of the animal scurrying underneath. And their tiny paws or slithery bodies can be heard over every pebble and every grain of sand. Usually, that would scare me but tonight I know that I am running from something else, something bigger.

The street goes on for miles ahead of me, one straight line like an arrow shooting ahead, forging me onward and making me well aware of how far I need to go. As I walk the events of the evening flash back like snapshots from a Polaroid camera.

The fight.

His eyes squinting. My body shaking. Our mouths quivering.

His hand raising up high until it’s erect like a flagpole. My eyes following it as it slowly makes its way above my head.

A series of hits.

Loud, uncontrollable sobbing. The sound of the dog barking covers up the heaving.

A stream of drool gliding out of the sides of my mouth and making a pool at my feet.

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, baby. Just sleep. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow we will talk about it.” Lies.

Slipping out of bed. So quietly that the sound of silk sheets beneath my body is inaudible. Padding on my feet hitting the cold marble floor like cotton balls. Gray v-neck shirt barely moving as my body slides the rest of the way out of the bed.


I shake my head in an attempt to forget. The warmth of the air actually comforts me and feels like an embrace, as if trying to convince me that I did the right thing.

And then I hear it. Footsteps. My heart pounds louder and my feet pick up pace. “This is it,” I tell myself, “Just hold your breath and run.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

scheduling.

Scheduling in New York City can be such a total nightmare. In between dinner and coffee - 30 minutes here, 20 minutes there.
I'll meet you on the 17th, no the 11th, no can't do Monday night.
It's kind of ridiculous.
Tonight a friend that I have literally been trying to see for almost a year called me to schedule a time for us to see each other. First and foremost, she had to put into her calendar to even call me to schedule (I would have done the same).
And I stood at my computer for almost 10 minutes trying to find a time for us to get together.
Wednesday between 5:30 and 6:30? Nope - have to work. After 8pm on Mondays? Can't - I have a class. Saturday next week? Out of town.
And on and on we went. Over and over.
Until finally, FINALLY, we settled on a date a month from now. A MONTH FROM NOW!
Scheduling in New York City can be such a total nightmare.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

and now a few words on rodents by P. Mahdavi

my friend Pedram relays to me the following story, which he has given me the right to publish, word for word:

Speaking of rodent stories, last night I was standing outside the Pacific Street subway entrance at the Atlantic-Pacific Street station. There is a crowd of people and all of a sudden I hear loud shrieking. Like blood curdling death screams. I turn around and see three girls running for their lives from a footlong rat that had emerged from the air vent. I say rat but it was likely the offspring of a mouse-bear mating experiment. The rat (really an ROUS) starts darting around as people scatter like syphilis was chasing them. It gets close to the wall and makes a run for the subway stairs.

Between the rat and the stairs is a guy begging for cash while sitting in his motorized wheelchair. The guy sees the rat galloping toward him and is about to jump out of the wheelchair. He lifts his legs (a possible miracle) and I don't know if he really can't walk or doesn't want to ruin his scam but he just sits there, clenches the armrests and crosses his legs. I've never seen such terror and helplessness in any person's face. I honestly hold my breath as I stand there watching the rat bull charge at the guy. The rat gets to him, the guy's eyes go from wide open to shut tight and the rat goes under the wheelchair/scooter and past the guy.

The rat is now ten feet away from the staircase, which has about 20 people on it, and is running at full speed. The rat gets to the first step and without hesitation it launches itself into the air like a bullet (I'm not even exaggerating), then does a flip (a F#%@ing FLIP!), clears the entire first flight of stairs (as people loose their minds), lands on the platform with full force, does a ninja roll (no joke... it did a precision ROLL), gets to its feet (winks at me) and jumps down the next five steps into the station.

The next 20 seconds I can't see anything but hear intermittent screams.

I love NYC. - Pedram Mahdavi

dialogue

i had a class assignment to write dialogue. the rule was to write a conversation that says one thing but means another. dialogue with subtext. here was my attempt.

“Did you remember to take the trash out?”

“Nah, forgot. Something came up. I’ll do it now.”

“I don’t need you to do it now. I needed you to do it when I asked you to do it.“ Olivia places the last plate into the dishwasher and wipes her hands on the towel. “Besides, I’ve done it already.”

Richard peers around the corner into the long, narrow kitchen. “If you already knew I didn’t take it out, then why did you ask?”

“Taking out the trash doesn’t need a reminder. It stays too long - it stinks. It’s just something you have to take care of. Right then. Right when it’s needed…”

“Your mother called today. She said she needs to talk to you. I left a note by the phone, did you get it?”

“…not when you feel like it.” His attempt to pull her away from the trash fails. “Things stay too long they stink, they always stink.” Olivia grabs a rag from the counter and begins scrubbing. At first softly but then with more and more fervor.

“I just wish you would leave it. You end up doing it all the time. You end up taking it out. And it’s my job. I was going to do it.” He feels his temper escalating and decides to head into the bedroom to avoid a more serious confrontation.

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll leave it for you.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

say it Maya!

I was passed this quote today by Maya Angelou.

“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it
seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that
you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that
regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're
gone from your life. I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as
making a life. I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both
hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I've learned that whenever
I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've
learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that
every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or
just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you
did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This resonated with me in so many different ways. What really hit home was the end about people remembering how you made them feel. If we are all constantly aware of that - how incredibly beautiful would all our interactions be?

Makes you think about what to strive for.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

pause

catching my breath.
finding time to catch it.
feeling my heart race, because i haven't taken the time to stop.
all of a sudden the whole day has passed and i forgot to breathe.

completely overwhelmed. sleeping only to make it through to the next day.
body exhausted. mind on overdrive.

too many tiny small little things that need to be taken care of.
need a chance to stop. for the brain to turn off. to not worry. to not think.

a few minutes each night. even just a few. to pause. to refuel.

need to find the time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

rock.

today someone i know and hope to know even better in the near future said: you are a rock.

don't quite get it. but it certainly was a compliment none the less.
BUT. speaking of rocks. it reminded me of what my cousins used to always make fun of me for. rocks.

i am a sentimental person. for sure. even the smallest little thing is touching to me. when i was younger, my cousins used to laugh and say - you are going to be so easy to please when you get married. all your husband has to do is get you a rock and attach some significant story to it and you'll be happy. you don't need diamond rings and trips around the world - you just need a rock with a story. they used to say that they would probably come to my house in 20 years and i'd have a mantel full of rocks - all different shapes and sizes. all tied to a sentimental moment.

funny the stories that words trigger. although i think now i'd probably really love that trip around the world. still. rocks with a story will warm my heart.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

treat yo' self.

i was escorted to brunch at 10:30am. we ate this amazing south african breakfast. you'll see the photo of such a brekkie on my other blog: www.sahbarohani.tumblr.com.

next i was ushered onto the train and taken uptown: way, way uptown. i was delivered into the hands of my masseuse for the hour. he was amazing. used these hot bags of sand (or something of the sort) which literally changed my life. i got up after that hour and looked like i had been run over by a truck. awesome massage.

i was met downstairs with a hot salted caramel latte from starbucks and then taken again on the train downtown to the great jones spa in soho. wet and dry saunas, jacuzzi, relaxation areas, magazine reading, hot tea, water with lemon, disposable razors, pure luxurious relaxation. 3 and a half hours of it. went from one thing to another to another to another.

then - last minute decision to go and see a movie. adding to the relaxation. movie watched. enjoyed.

taken over to westville for vegetables made the right way.

it was the perfect, most perfect day. i did no planning, i did no thinking, i was just taken from one place to another and was given the task to do nothing but enjoy myself. it was much much much needed. more than she'll ever know.

thank you to my cousin sam. who took such good care of me today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

my birthday.

a few weeks ago my friend had a birthday. when i asked her how she was feeling about it, she replied: what? i feel great! this is my very favorite holiday - it's all about me. people get to tell you how much they love you and you get to celebrate yourself.

i loved that. it's true. it's a day to celebrate who you are and how far you have come. it's a day to think about what and who you are thankful for and why. it's kind of like a day of reflection (and celebration).

i flip-flop every year with regards to how i feel on my birthday. every other year i want to keep it top secret and not talk about it with anyone. and then the alternate years i just want to throw a huge party and scream it from the rooftops. depends on my mood i guess.

my parents called today - skyped to wish me a happy birthday. and i stood in my kitchen and watched them tell me about the morning i was born. about only having lived in the US 4 years but still having taken lamaze classes (which they roll their eyes at when they talk about now). they talked about how much my mom screamed and cursed in the process and how happy she was, they both were, right afterwards. so many years ago today...that happened.

today is the day i will be grateful for life and all the gifts it has given.

Monday, October 10, 2011

surprise weekend in October

somehow this weekend we were given 3 glorious days where the sun shone as though we lived in california. it was not humid. it was not muggy. it did not feel like the wet sauna at Spa Castle. it was the perfect, most perfect weather. that kind of weather that makes you want to go to the beach and stare at the ocean. the kind of weather that makes you want to hold a scavenger hunt and have random people feed you on the street. the kind of weather that makes you want to sit in the park and read a book.

it's the type of weather that leads to a weekend where all your cares in the world seem to melt away (and that had little to do with the computer glitch that kept me from seeing my work emails all weekend - promise!) you can leave the house and not know when you will return, only to find yourself eating an $8.50 ice cream sunday that you are pretty sure they just placed on the menu and made up and overcharged because they knew you wanted ice cream that bad.

just was one of the weekends that i love. rejuvenated me for the week/seasons ahead.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

parallel parking

We pulled onto Stanton Street on the Lower East Side, driving slowly by parked cars and spaces that make your heart race in excitement because you think your search is over, before you realize there is a fire hydrant. And then finally there it was. The perfect spot. Well, almost. It was a little tight. A space between two big cars, each towering over us. Along the sidewalk were people scattered about, drinking coffees and enjoying the weather before it becomes too cold to sit outside.
My friend decided she could do it. She could parallel it into that little space.
So she began - forward, backwards, forward, backwards. Never so much as touching her bumper to the car in front and the car behind. It wasn't until seconds in that we noticed the onlookers. All the people sitting outside were now enamored by the ease of the driving, waiting expectantly for the bumper to hit, for the wheel to turn too far to the right, for the car to be too far from the curb. They all just sat and stared. Like something out of a movie - they watched carefully as the car parked. Skillfully. Masterfully. For what seemed like hours, the noise, the commotion, and the traffic all stopped as the world watched a car parallel park on Stanton Street.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cool Ranch Doritos

i love Cool Ranch Doritos so much. when i lived in Haifa, Israel, you couldn't find them anywhere. anywhere. sure they had the fake kind. the corn chips with a little ranch seasoning sprinkled on top. but it's just not the same.
anyone who loves Cool Ranch knows that an impostor can never, ever replace the real thing.
so when i came home to the United States for visits, i'd buy so much. a whole bunch. and i'd put them in my suitcase to bring back with me. my dad is so smart he would get me tupperware to put them in before putting them into my suitcase so that they wouldn't get crushed.


one time my aunt came to visit and was sent with a bag to bring over for me. she had a layover and she left them in a cab somewhere in london. i cried when i saw her. without my Doritos.

i heard the creator of the Dorito died last week. i heard the news at a wedding. apparently, when they buried him, they sprinkled his favorite Doritos on top of the grave. i'm pretty sure it was Cool Ranch. rest in peace.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

my bag is famous.

It was Friday night, you know, a typical Friday night. Had a few girlfriends over. We were picking up food at the grocery store beneath my house and then we were going to settle in to watch crap TV, talk, and stuff faces. You know, typical Friday night, right?
So we are downstairs, I'm in the worst possible outfit I could be in. Spent most of the daylight hours under my covers trying to beat whatever was trying to find refuge in my throat. Stretch pants, over-sized t-shirt, crooked glasses, hair a mess.
My friend turns to me to ask where I get my grocery bags, the ones I bring with me to the store each time I go shopping. I tell her, then continue perusing the ice cream cabinet for what would feel best emotionally but would do the least amount of damage to the oncoming sickness.
"Why?" I ask, distracted over chocolate chocolate-chip and chunky monkey.
"This guy, that one there, he needs bags for the TV show he is filming."
My ears perk up. What? TV show? My dreams of becoming rich and famous all flash before my eyes.
"Whhhooo???"
At this point the guy with the earpiece hears us and comes over.
"Wait, you're looking for a bag. Like. What kind of bag? I have bags. I have all kinds of bags. I live upstairs. I could get you a bag. What do you need?" Yes, I'm well aware that I'm speaking a hundred miles an hour.
After digesting my words, and getting over his sudden shock at my over enthusiasm, he begins talking at a speed not much different than mine.
"You know. A bag. We need to make it look like this guy uses these bags when shopping. I just need a bag. We're filming down the street. A new Lifetime show - Modern Love. He goes grocery shopping, and he needs a bag. But it can't have any logo on it. It can't have any words on it either. You got one? You got a bag?"
My mind is going through every single bag I have hanging upstairs on the inside of the coat closet door, trying to figure out if I have something that fits his description.
"Listen, I'm going upstairs and I'll bring you something. Just wait here."
I run upstairs, go through everything I have, and run back down with bags in my hand and dreams in my heart of being famous. Or at least my bag being famous.
"Here you go!" He looks through my pile of bags, picks one he loves, and exclaims - "This one! This one is perfect!"
And right there on the street corner, the man with the earpiece and tousled hair hands me a five dollar bill for a white, mesh, non-descript bag, perfect for veggies.
So look for it. On the pilot of Modern Love. And know that that bag came straight from me and is living out my dream of being famous.

storage

Moving is probably one of the most stressful and exhausting things. You have to go through everything, make the decision to throw things out or keep things, and put into boxes the things that you want to carry with you to your next destination. What's worse? Taking that whole life and sticking it into a 4x4x9 storage unit.


We paid a visit to Manhattan Mini-Storage on Saturday, to take 7 years of my cousins life in New York City, and stick it into a storage unit. We walked down the eerie aisles after aisles, and it hit me that each of these small teeny tiny little spaces holds the contents of someones life. It holds the things that they already weeded through and thought were important to keep. All the things someone considers meaningful are all right there, in that little space.

Was just too interesting a concept not to acknowledge.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

feeling happy.

I guess this is nothing but a moment to stop and remember the reasons I am happy. Because often times, the mundane cycle which life can offer, overshadows the reasons you truly feel alive.
It's hard to feel content and happy in each moment. We strive for it, but it's hard.

For me, I remember that I am happy by reflecting on things I am grateful for. For the little moments that make me thankful. So I started a list. It reminds me of a TED talk I watched, and LOVED called "The 3 A's of Awesome." If you haven't watched this, look it up, watch it. It's amazing. My friend Daina also does a similar thing with her blogs on "The Little Things". It's just taking a moment to pause and remember what we have, what we should be remembering every day when we are exhausted, grouchy, and overwhelmed.

Things get added to this list often. But today, they stand as follows:

*My Faith - I'm thankful I was brought up with hope and with a greater understanding that things are bigger and greater than me, and that I need to just love. THAT is the most important thing, and that love comes from my love for God.

*Family - I sometimes forget how lucky I am that my family members are some of my best friends. That's rare. And that I have parents that love and support me to no end.

*My Work - I get to do what I love every day. I get to serve humanity in a way that I feel is meaningful and in a way that fulfills the core of what I believe.

*My Friends - I have people I can count on, all the time. People who would do anything for me, and they know that the feeling is reciprocated. Some are close close by, and some are flung far and wide, but they know who they are. They each play a different role, each are unique, and each make me a better person in their own way.

And then, the smaller things, like:
- sitting outside on the patio and drinking iced tea.
- crawling into my bed and reading a good book.
- finding the perfect point of inspiration and photographing it.
- getting an iced coffee every morning.
- yoga at the beginning of the week.
- salads with ginger sesame dressing.
- farmer's markets in the Fall.
- donuts on a Thursday at noon.
- skyping with my niece and seeing her smile.
- remembering there is a new episode of my favorite show up on line right now.

and - writing to remember.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

perspective

i just found out about some incredible work that is being done to advocate for the human rights of the Baha'is in Iran. for the last 30 years the Baha'is living in Iran have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. because the Islamic Republic of Iran does not "approve" of a religion that promotes kindness and unity, a religion that promotes peace and love, thousands of Baha'is in Iran are persecuted every day.
my grandmother was put in prison, there was a time when none of us knew if she was dead or alive. my cousins were and still are denied access to higher education. they can't study in freedom. they can not choose what they want to be and pursue that.
this website just came out that outlines some of the things that have been happening for the Baha'is in Iran. www.educationunderfire.com
a 30 minute documentary is about to be released telling their story, finally.
tonight i spent some time just looking over this website. hearing the stories. seeing the photos. and i just cried and cried. because these are my people. these are the people who suffer each day so that i can live a life of freedom.
suddenly, my whole long to-do list just didn't feel as important. there are bigger, much bigger, things that i need to be doing.

little Jaxon.

Today I saw some friends of mine that I hadn't seen in a long time - which is pretty ridiculous because they live right down the street from me and they are amazing. And they have an amazing son. A most amazing son. With a cute round face and a toothy grin, white-blonde hair that shapes that cute face and these sparkling blue eyes. He is about 3, I think.

Today he comes up to me with his subway map of New York City (yes you read right) and looks and me and says, "You want me to tell you my favorite subway stop?"

Shocked that a child even knows how to read the NYC train map when it took me well into my second year here to even begin to understand it (I literally took cabs everywhere my first 2 months in this City).
"Yes, yes I do."

"It's rriiiiggghhhttt here." His eyes search for a while and then his finger lands right on the Atlantic terminal train stop in Brooklyn. "The N, that's the N train. That's the one I like."

Impressive. To say the least.

"Oh ya? Why do you like that one the best?"

"Because it takes you EVERYwhere...you see here - it goes to the 7!" Which he then proceeds to point to. The he takes his toy N train (of course) and plants it on the map and begins making vroom-vroom noises as the N makes it's way on the yellow track.

"Wait, where is your train going?"

"To Canal Street of course!"

Wow. This is a true New Yorker. Tried and true.

appreciating and encouraging

being appreciated is such an incredible thing. sadly, it is not our first instinct to encourage and share appreciation. more often, we tend to tell people what they are doing wrong, how they can fix what they do, how a situation can be rectified, or how we would do it differently.

it's so unfortunate because appreciating and encouraging helps us to work harder, to be happier, to want to do better. why can't we tell other people what we love in them? why can't we share what qualities they possess that we admire?

today i got an email from a parent thanking me. it made me grateful for people who appreciate. for people who might think something and instead of turn to the person next to them and tell them what they like in you, they turn to tell you instead.

hearing things like that makes you want to turn around and do the same thing.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

weekends

i used to believe that weekends had a routine. that friday nights were a time to go out with friends for, you know, a nice intimate dinner and delicious dessert afterwards. and then saturday was all about "doing things" - brunch with friends in the morning, run a few errands, coffee with another friend, oh! make sure i see those out of town guests that are visiting, meet up at an over-priced place for dinner, walk the streets, cafe, lounge, dancing, singing, whatever...

then came sunday. gym, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking (all my meals for the week), catching up with family over the phone.

and that's it. weekend is done. full and marvelous and done.

but. something has recently started to change. well, first off, fridays became days of passing out on my couch at 8pm, rightfully so. and the 2 days that follow just don't feel the same. plans aren't as set as they used to be. in fact, saturday night even comes and goes without anything monumental happening. i contemplate napping mid-day. MID-DAY! i never ever used to nap. never. i wake up and lie in bed and read. WHAT!? who are you?!

somehow my weekends have changed. not sure how long it'll stay like this, but i'm hoping this is permanent. at least for a while.

Friday, September 23, 2011

wow, you're a writer!

so i did something last weekend that i have always in my life wanted to do. i joined a writing class. it's an online class where you work on a few different pieces and your writing community helps critique your work. i'm excited (and nervous).

we had to write a bio for our class to introduce ourselves to the rest of the group. here is part of what i wrote:

"It was sometime after I turned 10 that I first wrote a “chapter book” that I was really proud of. I had finally taken one (of the many) stories that lived in my head and put it down on my college-ruled lined paper. I remember showing it to one of my uncles which, when you come from a huge Persian family, are a dime a dozen, and he looked up at me and said – “Wow, you’re a writer!”. And I think I have been ever since. From the journals lining my bookcase telling my stories, big and small, to the drafts upon drafts of unfinished work I have saved on my hard drive for each time I am “inspired”, I know that writing makes me content in a way that nothing else does.

I work in education at an amazing charter school in Brooklyn, only a 10-minute walk from where I live. I enjoy my work so much and am inspired each day by the people around me. Even though I first moved to New York City seven years ago, I am just now making it home. People and moments in this busy, bustling City make it almost impossible not to fill your head with stories to write. So I started a blog to help me document and it keeps me connected to the writing process." ...

i share it here because this space and the people who check and read this blog either every day or even once in a while, have encouraged me to take this step. as soon as i joined, i wrote to my family to tell them the news. my parents have always encouraged me to write. i think it's partly because of them that i even enjoy and do it as much as i do. my favorite was the last line in an email from my dad after i told him i joined this class: hope you can go some place next summer to just concentrate on that [writing]. plan it and we all help. love you, I am so proud of this wonderful daughter. Dad

Thursday, September 22, 2011

it's Fall!

you know i never realized how much i really love the Fall. somehow last year, after living in the north east for almost 7 years (and counting), the wonderfulness of this time of year hit me. i used to hate the weather changing and i used to loathe the change of the season.

somehow last year, apple picking felt more like a luxury than a chore. crisp apples at the farmer's market down the street, fresh baked bread, warm donuts, wool sweaters, and changing leaves. hot apple cider, and cinnamon, and jazz. there is something so cozy and warm and loving about this time of year. i am covered from head to toe, all bundled up - but i can still walk without having hunched shoulders and clenched teeth. the air feels cleaner and the cup of coffee that has slowly made its transition from iced to steaming hot, warms my cold hands in the place of mittens.


i love the Fall. it is all about baking and wood burning fires, and really cool sweaters.
it's about coffee shops and cuddling. even though it has the daunting task of ushering in the freezing cold winter, i think it does a really great job of making us like it, this season of Fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Upper West Side Life

Thinking now to my two years on the Upper West Side, it feels somewhat like I was living in a completely different City. It's only a 40 minute train ride but it reminds me of a completely different life. I was in college then, working hard for a Master's Degree that I am still paying for - one that I will continue to pay for for another 37 years, according to my loan officer, who incidentally has also advised me to marry rich. I loved my life there because it transitioned me to New York City.

I was walking in that area tonight and I was reminded of those days, even though they are now 6 years in the past. That yoga studio that kicked my yogi ass two times a week is still there. The cathedral where my graduation ceremony took place is still there. The restaurant where I bumped into my ex-boyfriend is still there. Even the people asking me for directions every 3 minutes are still there.

But. Most importantly, the AppleTree Market is still there. And I love that place. It was my one stop shop at every hour of the day or night. On all-nighter paper writing sojourns, it offered coffee, sugar, and sushi. In the "morning", whatever time that actually was, it provided breakfast sandwiches on H&H bagels. And if I ran out of printer paper, it had that too. It was my place. It will forever and always remind me of college, of hopes and dreams, of first arriving in New York City.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

insecurity

There is this really ugly thing called insecurity. It comes when you least expect it and it manifests itself in the strangest of ways. It can be triggered by a look, an action, or just a mere word. Most of the time, you don’t even know that it’s coming but when it hits it’s like a freight train. Totally and completely incapacitates you.

When you look at it from the outside, it seems so incredibly petty. Because you look at it and think – are you serious? This is bothering you? It feels more like things that might be a big deal when you are in high school, maybe college, but not now. Now we are all mature. Now we can all talk about our relationships and communicate how we feel and why we feel it. But, as my wonderful, beautiful, always right and honest friend says, we can’t help it - we are all human. It’s true. We are all insecure human beings looking for validation all the time. And when we don’t get it, then we feel taken advantage of, we feel unloved, and we feel broken.

But asking for that validation is scary. Asking for it makes you look weak and brings with it the fear of not knowing how you will be perceived. Again, that insecurity.

I’ve been thinking though, that all this insecurity comes when we do one thing – put too much importance on what other people think of us. We want to make him happy, show her how well we can do, tell them about our accomplishments to make them proud of us, the list goes on. But what about doing something to be proud of myself? What about feeling good about my own choices and doing things to make me happy?

Now I’ll digress for just a second here because this whole “does this make me happy” notion can often be mistaken in this nation that prides itself on over-individualization. My needs. My wants. My desires. We live in a society which breeds us to think and act in a way where our needs overshadow the needs of others and where we feel the need to become the center of all things important. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Doing things that make you happy and allow you to feel at peace are things that often do involve serving others, looking at the beauty of creativity, enjoying a good meal, sitting and breathing. Opening our minds and hearts to be better people. Making choices that make us happier so that we can give back. Clearing our minds of the debris that builds up and the dust that just lies there, making our souls stagnant. It’s the small decisions that we have to make. The tiny moments where we feel whole. And in those moments insecurity doesn’t exist because we are connected to the deep and meaningful reasons for happiness.

So even though a word is spoken, a glance is passed, an action takes place – we let it come and then we let it go. Because ultimately, feeling insecure and looking for validation from someone else, isn’t going to guarantee us feeling better. But loving and caring for ourselves is. It’s simple. But so completely over-thought.

space

trapped. closed in. can't breathe.

release slow and easy. time to think. time to step away and see. bird's eye view? is that what they call it? needing to see the end in the beginning. enjoying moments. being present.

there is a term that i am not even sure exists in the Dictionary. a little too lazy to find out if it does. "futurizing". futurzing makes you crazy. futurizing makes you worry instead of actually being present and living in the moment. it makes you think things that don't need to be thought and makes you believe things you don't want to believe. you worry for no reason. you cry before you have to. you rationalize in place of feeling.

need space and time and breathing space to think. to be reminded that actually, everything is OK.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the suburbs in NYC.

I grew up in the desert. Everything about growing up had to do with a suburban lifestyle. Everyone had a car, we drove on wide streets, we had high ceilings and backyards, we had over-sized stores with much too much in them, chain restaurants and malls. Centralized air and washing machines were not added pleasures, and neither was natural light.

So when I first moved to Brooklyn, there was a lot of adjustment. There was the taking in and out of the air conditioning units every few months. And the storing of winter clothes because there just isn't enough space. And then of course the hauling of anything - groceries, laundry, a vacuum - across the neighborhood and up 3 flights of stairs.

June of last year I did what my friend Shaadee Mae refers to as me bringing suburbia to NYC.

I think I can now stay here for a bit.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9.11.2011

This morning I watched the coverage of the memorial for those who died tragically in the attacks on 9/11, exactly 10 years ago - today.

In 2001 I was in Haifa, Israel when this happened. I remember watching the news, talking to my family in the States, and seeing coverage as if watching a scene from a terrible movie. But being that far you don't actually feel the gravity of the situation and don't experience it in the same way.

This year that same place has become my home. I walked through SoHo last night and two parallel lights lit the sky in honor of those once standing buildings. And today's coverage shared the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died as a result of ignorance and hatred. As the names were read, 10-20 at a time, there would be a pause and a family member would remember their loved one and send a "message" to them. One little boy, about 10 years old, got up and began reading the names of those who had passed. And somewhere around "Goldstein" he stopped and remembered his father. "I never met you, Dad, because I was in my mother's womb when you died. But thank you for loving me enough to give me the gift of life. I wish you were here to share it with me."

I sobbed after I heard that. Because these, and many others, are the stories that were left behind. The stories that, once the media covered and showed and explained, were left to deal with the pain and the constant reminder of what happened that day. It's the sharing of those stories that gives reality to the names being read. Hearing those stories connects us to one another and demonstrates the humanity we all share.

I wasn't here when it really happened. But 10 years later, as I sit in my living room in Brooklyn, I am reminded and re-live the hurt, pain, and loss felt by many on that day, a decade ago. And all I can do is remember them in my thoughts and prayers and be constantly aware of the preciousness of life and be conscious what I do with the hours and minutes I do have.

always an adventure.

each of the people in our lives offers something different. each of our friends play a different role. i love the moment when i realize what i am most thankful for in a friend.

i have this friend that always makes me feel like i'm on an adventure. this is hard to do with any type A personality, but somehow, with him...i feel like time doesn't exist and all possibilities are just that - possibilities.

take tonight for example. all we wanted was to find a place to have chocolate cake and a coffee. instead of taking out our phones and yelping it like normal people do, we decided to instead wander the streets, look for something that felt like the experience we wanted, and go there instead. we walked for a long time. in and out of different places, through alleys, down stairs and corridors, and looked at a number of menus. back and forth from one place to another until we found a place that felt just right.

i realized right then that i enjoyed that. i enjoyed walking the Brooklyn Bridge at 1am and ending up at a seedy diner in Cobble Hill. i like it because it never is in the beginning what i expected in the end. and it's an adventure. and i'm thankful to him for allowing me the space to do that.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

our light.

I believe we are all unique. Each of us are a blend of qualities and characteristics unlike the world has ever seen before us or will ever see after us. Although there are qualities of ours that are manifest in other people, in lots of people, around us, the way that ours were brought together and mixed all up is perfect because it's us. It creates in us the light that shines.

The thing is, we have just such a short amount of time in this world. So we have a lot to figure out, you see. We have to, first of all, know what those qualities are that are within us. We have to understand our strengths and our capacities. What are we able to offer the world? What is it we are really good at? What is it that we enjoy doing?

In the process of figuring this out, we develop the skills to bring tangible action to those qualities. It is our responsibility to do this. Or else we are depriving the world of our unique light.

my bus.

We ushered in the new school year on Thursday. 300 students and their families walked in through our doors - happy, content, and completely themselves. Our community was back together to learn and grow for another year.

Tonight I went to a talk by someone I admire and respect. Mr. Dunbar I know from my days in Haifa, Israel. He speaks and I know that somehow he has heard the cry of my heart and has chosen the exact words that I need to hear. Tonight he talked about not "missing the bus". About not missing chances that come up in your life, being aware of the opportunities that are right in front of you, and seizing those opportunities.

As he spoke my heart raced just a little and I couldn't stop (even if I tried) the feeling of overwhelming gratitude that flooded my soul. At my core, my very center, is my Faith. It is something I cherish and adore. It is something I try not to take for granted, although I am certain that there are times that I do. It is something that motivates me, shapes my thinking, and directs my actions. It's something I strive for, daily.

And then I have the most incredible blessing of doing the work that I do. I get to work at an amazing school, with an incredible group of people who are both inspiring and encouraging. I interact with hundreds of children and their families and see them grow and develop and learn and love. My work is a direct extension of the principles of the Faith I believe in. Every day I get to do something for the world in the small small way that I can. This is my bus. For now, anyway.

Monday, September 5, 2011

integrity.

one of my good friends said something interesting today. she said she wants to live with integrity. that her thoughts, her actions, and her words should relay the integrity of who she is.

this resonated with me on so many different levels. but mainly because i think that a lot of times our words and our thoughts may by in line with our integrity, but that aligning our actions with that is often times harder, i find.

because i am of the firm belief that i should let "deeds not words be my adorning" it makes me think that the way we carry ourselves and share ourselves holds the most importance. how does what i do actually convey who it is that i am? are my actions reflecting what i say and what i think? does my character reveal the true nature of my soul?

it is the small choices we make each day that reveal that integrity. the small moments that seem insignificant but actually tell the story of who we are.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

no structure

8:35am wide awake.

9:30am grab an almond croissant and an iced coffee, settle into the wooden benches of the patio. eat, pray, love. reflect. cry. write. think. open up space in the crevasses of the mind. ease the soul. let the heart breathe.

11:30am visit a friend. talk and reflect more. intense calm has overcome. feeling open to what the world brings.

1pm in a convertible. driving alone to the beach. along the highway, loud music playing. singing my heart out. screaming. living. dancing.

2:30pm lying on the beach. wind whipping my hair. blue and green striped towel and waves that Irene left behind. sea gulls a little too close. reading chelsea handlers inappropriate life and laughing out loud.

5:30pm shopping. pick up things i need desperately. and not so desperately.

8pm visit another friend. love, laugh, decorate.

9:30pm finally home. grilled cheese sandwiches and pretty woman. sand still all over my body. salty feet. curled up on the couch.

a day not planned.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

string of emotions from years ago.

love lost.
dreams crushed.
heart broken.

needing something to tell you what you need to be doing. need direction. need love.
blindly moving through the maze that is life hoping to make the right choices.

winding roads, hearts shattered, lies seeped in disloyalty.

wanting, needing, craving reassurance.

choppy and uncertain. words don't come. nothing can explain.
movement from one emotion to another - stringing along.

songs, smells, words, visions.

remember.
trying to forget.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

bonds.

My grandmother died on the morning of December 20th. I got the call at 8:36am from my sister, informing me of the news, through sobs. She had left behind 6 children, and a plethora of grand-children and great-grand children. Of those six children, three were women; sisters who themselves had 4 daughters: my two cousins, my sister, and myself.

There is something about the daughters of sisters that bonds you together. An unspoken truth that all understand. Hurtful things may be said but are easily forgotten. Minds are read, emotions felt, feelings expressed. Everything happens within the context of the tapestry that three women wove - patiently and deliberately.

The day she passed was a blur and before we knew it, all four of us were together in one home, left to plan the funeral and put into effect the logistics. We had, in the past, planned many events and activities together. We have the type of easy familiarity that allows hard tasks to get done within a matter of seconds. Sentences rarely need to be completed in order for us to be efficient and conscious of the work we are doing. One of us would already have taken the next step before anyone has told us what the next step even is.

But during this time, it seemed we had lost the capacity to think rationally. Everything moved slower. Much slower. What would have normally taken us minutes to do, would end up taking hours. The days leading up to the funeral were filled with tasks and decisions and to-do's. On Wednesday we needed to pick up an album from Target. Any other time and that would have been done in a matter of minutes. On this day however, all we wanted was to be together. We piled into the SUV - all 4 of us and the two babies (the newest members of our female bondage). We squeezed into the car, stuffed ourselves into the trunk and in between the car seats. We didn't care. All that mattered was that we were together, feeling one another's pain, understanding one another's heartache, anticipating one another's hurt. Nothing mattered but what was happening in that car, in those moments, in that circumstance.

She had done it again, that beautiful grandmother of ours. She had tied us together with yet another shared experience that moved straight through our mothers and into our cores, creating with it another layer to that bond, strengthening it in ways that we would not have seen possible.

The time Irene hit NYC.

Hurricane Irene visited and with that visit she brought a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and pure anxiety. There was so much hype around her arrival that all of New York was sent into a frenzy. The line at Walgreens was SO long (not that that is anything new) but there were 3 different cashiers (which IS something new). Water bottles were strewn across the aisle floors, batteries were sold out, and people were grabbing candles by the dozens.

Now I for one am extremely grateful to live in a place where things like this are anticipated and therefore precaution can be taken. But I also think that I may have taken it to an extreme. How am I to know? - I come from the desert. All I had heard were horror stories of what a storm like this could do. All I had known were images from when Katrina hit. So prepared I would be, even if it killed me. It was for this reason that 4 pounds of bananas were purchased and why I could convince myself to believe that I needed that bag of beef jerky.

I filled buckets and jars and tupperware and bathtubs full of water. I packed an emergency night bag and taped windows shut. I moved everything off the ground of my 3rd floor apartment building when we weren't even in a flood zone (you can never be too careful). And. Last but not least, I slept in a closet. Huddled together with someone else, in a closet.

And then she came. I barely even heard her. As my friend pointed out, she just farted and left. And all we were left with were bananas and a crap load of water.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public Bathrooms

When I was 7 years old I first realized what a public bathroom was actually for. I walked in with my mom, used the facilities (as I had done many other time in the past) and met her out by the sinks to wash my hands. Just then a woman in her 50's, probably just over 4 feet in stature, with a wrinkled little face that showed much older than her actual years, walked in. She had short, short gray hair. Her long pointy nose curled just over her lips, which were firmly pressed together. She looked over at us with her tiny little eyes, shrugged her already elevated shoulders, and walked into the stall. I must have been frozen as she walked by, just taking in her appearance, because as soon as she disappeared behind the doors I saw my mother quickly motioning me to focus on the task at hand. I was just coming out of my mesmerized state before I heard it. The loudest flatulence that I had ever in my life heard.

Ever.

By body must have jumped while my mind made sense of the fact that such a loud sound was coming from such a small lady.
But all I really remember was being horrified and then extremely worried that someone would do something like that in public. Wasn't she embarrassed? Couldn't she save that for when she was home? WHAT WAS SHE DOING?!?
I suppose the natural reaction for a child in a situation like that would be to fall into fits of laughter. But I didn't. I was so completely perplexed by the fact that I had heard something so private from someone else's body that I was paralyzed.
My mother ushered me out the door without a word.
"I can't believe she is using the bathroom for that, Mommy!!!!"
My mom, startled that THIS is what I had taken away from that whole scenario, sat me down and told me what public bathrooms are, why we use them, and how that was perfectly OK.

Two days ago in Barnes&Noble, I had a similar experience and I was immediately brought back to my 7th year and my conversation with my mom. Funny the things you remember.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

awkward silence.

i talk.
sometimes, i'd like to think most of the time, i stay on topic. i listen to what is being said, i respond accordingly with much thought put into my response. i enjoy conversation. so when an instance like today occurs it jumps out to me.

i talked. i started making a point. i made the point. and then something else came. this verbal diarrhea that would not let up. i began by telling a story of my recent bout with road rage (which is unnecessary to ever recount again) and the next thing i know i am talking about my educational philosophy and then jumped right into another story of the time i ended up talking to a Ralph Macchio-esque detective at the 88th precinct in Brooklyn (which i will choose to share at another time).

it was at this point that i stopped. horrified that i had just spoken, only stopping to inhale air quickly so as not to suffocate, for the last 4 minutes straight. i had no idea what the original point even was.

awkward silence.

perhaps the next introductory sentence to a blog entry of this sort should begin: i listen. that's a safer way to go.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

so much space.

I remember being on a flight from Tel Aviv to the US and having a lay over in London. I was in the airport a few hours and, naturally, had to use the facilities. I remember being completely taken aback by how incredibly small those bathrooms were. I could barely fit myself into the stall, let alone my small carry-on bag. I maneuvered for well over a minute - opening and closing the door, moving the suitcase and myself in and out of the stall as if doing a little dance - all the while cursing the makers of European bathrooms and developing a deep appreciation for space in the United States.
Last weekend I was in New Mexico and at the airport waiting for a flight. I walked into the bathroom and was taken aback. SO.MUCH.ROOM. There was enough space in the sink area for an interpretive dance or a well choreographed ice skating routine. Geez! This is bigger than MOST apartments in New York City. I could probably fit a small family of 5 into this stall! Amazed at the difference. Takes me back to my Kindergarten days where we teach - we are all different, we are all the same. We all have bathrooms but they are all so different. Kinda like us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Walgreens.

There is a Walgreens right below my apartment in New York City and it is BY FAR the most disorganized, poorly managed, chaotic store I have ever been in. The lines at the register are BEYOND ridiculous for how long it takes to get one single item. There are at least 10 people in line each and every time you go and it always ends up that the person in front of you needs to search through their pockets for 5 minutes for a coupon to buy their carton of milk. It just takes entirely too long.
Now since I have an intense (and probably unhealthy) love for pharmacies, I have never REALLY let all this bother me. I smile and breathe deeply, convincing myself that just living above a pharmacy is luxury enough - who needs the other conveniences. I brag about my Walgreens, proud to shop there. I don't mind that the people behind the counters barely look up at me as they ring up my things and that a grunt from them makes me certain that I live on the happiest block in the City.
But then I experienced the Walgreens here, in the suburban desert. I then realized how low my standards had become. It was not just that the aisles were clear of clutter and that each item was actually in its rightly marked place...it was the customer service. At first I didn't even know quite how to respond to it. I asked the woman for help (I mean that's a big deal in and of itself - there was a WOMAN waiting to be asked for help!) and she literally walked around with me, found everything I needed, answered all my questions, gave me additional advice - all with a HUGE smile on her face.
For the first 3 minutes of our interaction I barely spoke, like a child at the zoo for the first time - amazed that the giraffe I had read about in my books actually did exist. She helped me through my list and then began to check me out at the counter. Being the New Yorker I am, I quickly swiped my debit card before she had even rung up the last item. "Whoopsie daise! You did that too fast - I didn't have a chance to give you your dollar rebate from this item!...Ok, let me just look in here and see what I can find that equals a dollar."
She then proceeded to pull out a basket full of items and dumped everything from travel bottles of shampoo to recyclable bags into my bag of purchases. "OK, there you go, you think that all adds up to a dollar?"
I left that Walgreens changed. Don't know if I can ever go back to the Walgreens below my apartment again without loosing patience. This is why it's never good to know what you are missing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My family moved out to Tucson, Arizona, when I was 6 years old. My little sister was just born and we packed up the small U-Haul with the contents of our humble abode in Reno, Nevada (the biggest little city in the world and the birthplace of yours truly) and we drove over the desert lands to get to Arizona.

Before the move, my Dad (who had come out earlier to secure a home) called. I remember even to this day talking to him over the telephone. "I got a house," he said, "a real house." I'm sure my mouth dropped open. That sounded so official. "And you know what else? They have something called cactus here and we have them in our backyard. And you know what else...?" My already big eyes, widened. Could there be more? It was more excitement than my little 6 year old body could handle. "There are colored lights out back. They light up and color the cactus."
Ask me now and I'd call that tacky. But back then, at that moment, with my father telling me stories of our new magical backyard, my imagination wandered in anticipation.

The day of our move, I still can hear the crunch of the gravel as the truck turned onto our very own driveway of our very first house. I jumped out of the car. Dad opened the door and we had entered our new home.

Many of the details after that are a blur to me. The only thing that I remember really really well now, looking back, is the lime green shag carpet, covering the entire living room. That's all that sticks out. That and loads of memories from our time on that street. That was 27 years ago, when my parents first made Tucson their home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

will i ever know?

My religion makes it hard for me to travel to my home country. My parents come from a place that doesn't accept our beliefs as acceptable. I've spoken about this before on my blog in: The Reunion back in August 2007. During that summer I was probably the most in touch with that part of my life. With the upbringing of my parents. With my background. With the root of my Faith.

I took a class at TC a few years back about non-formal education and how memories are passed on. I sat and listened to everyone in the class talk about where they grew up and how they would frequently visit their grandparents' home and would learn from the places their parents lived. I listened with envy, knowing I may never be able to see those things and experience and learn in the way they did. In the way that they probably took for granted.

My mother tells me stories of these delicious donut-like desserts she used to buy hot and fresh on her way home from school. My dad talks about the bike shop and the kababi (kabab shop) right outside his home where he would get lunch and then rent a bike to ride around for the day. He tells me about the cotton factories my grandfather managed and the swimming hole they would all play in. And then mom tells me of the day they met - where they were and what happened. I imagine it all in my mind but feel a certain emptiness knowing I may never see those places (some of which don't even exist because the government has overtaken them and turned them into new condos). I wish so much that I can go there, tread the paths they tread, see the things that made them who they are, learn more about a part of me that I know is there. I wonder what I will learn when I have the chance to see and do as those before me did.

Hopefully, God willing (as my mom used to put it), it will happen in my lifetime.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

just nothing.

I have been so incredibly slow with my blogging as of late. Which strikes me as odd because I am technically on summer vacation and one would think that loads of time would be made available for writing and enjoying and being creative.

This is partially true - that is, time is much more available. But the 'thoughts inspired' have been coming in by the hundreds. I guess having time to think and process and enjoy and experience also does allow for the creative forces at play to go into over-drive. Therefore, billions of potential blog post ideas, thoughts, and stories come in and out of my brain on a daily basis. Some have even been skillfully written out in the crevices of my mind. Then, 10pm rolls around, I pick up the old computer, pull up my blog to write and enter the most recent thing that has popped into my head and it's only then that I realize that none of the great blog post ideas I had during that day ever actually made it live. It is only then that I realize how many things I have left to write and create and put out there. And it is here that I get overwhelmed. Too many ideas, too many things I want to write about. So I end up writing about nothing at all. Like this. Nothing. Nothing but the process described.

Hoping the drawl of summer doesn't decapitate me for long.

And PS - those reading Thoughts Inspired, come on over and check out my new blog: sahbarohani.tumblr.com. It's all photos, barely any words. The exact flip flop of this blog. Provides for a nice balance I'd say? Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

they laugh together

the other day i had a picnic in the park with my parents and a few friends. i wanted my friends to meet my parents and, even though the time was short, everyone got to talk just a little bit.
as i was saying my goodbyes, one of my friends turned to me and said - they still laugh together.
huh?
your parents, i love that they make each other laugh - they still laugh together.
i hadn't thought of that before. had never really registered. but since she said it i see it all the time. they laugh so much. 37 years of marriage and they laugh.
last night they came home from their day and my dad says, "wait until we tell you the story of what happened to us today - i am going to act it all out for you."
my mom burst into laughter.
hours later when my sister and brother-in-law came home, mom and dad re-enacted their day for us - each laughing and giggling along the way. it was one of the best things i have ever seen.
i realized how important that is for any relationship. for me. the ability to find joy and humor in the things that happen. and to be able to be enjoy life's tiny pleasures. because if you aren't laughing and enjoying along the way - what's the point really?

Monday, August 1, 2011

sitting in a coffee shop doing work

i have always wanted to say "i sit in a coffee shop and i work all day". because something about that is exciting to me. because i love that i can get my cup of coffee, set myself up at a table, and just do work. my brain thinks better. i am more alert. the energy of the people around me - working, talking, reading - makes me feel part of a community of thinkers. each doing our own thing and each aware enough of one another as to not be too disruptive.
this summer, time has allowed me to sit in a coffee shop and work all day (well, half a day). and i get to think and create and do things i usually just dream of doing.
usually when you want to do something so badly, when you actually end up doing it, you think "eh, that was OK." but with this dream, it just keeps getting better.
i love it even more and continue to feel excited to do it.
hopefully this addiction is one i'll be able to support, even amidst the chaos of my New York City life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

sleep little one

when she was just born, she used to just fall asleep on my chest while i lay on the couch. she would curl her little 7 pound body up and fit right there. i was in heaven and was convinced that every single time i visited her she would fall asleep like that.
boy i was wrong. her squirmy wormy body doesn't sit still anymore. she requires a lot more than just a quiet space and a hug to fall asleep now. so it's been a while.
but the other night, in our hotel room in Florida, it happened.
it was a late night. she still hadn't quite picked up on the time difference, but this particular night, she was just not interested in sleep at all.
her momma and i decided to put on the bachelorette and let her play a little until she got tired.
before long, my sister had passed out and it was now just her and i. i kept watching, she kept playing, completely content to have time to herself.
30 minutes passed. and i finally lay my head on the pillow and pulled her towards me in an attempt for a cuddle. and then she did it. she lay her head right on my chest and passed out.
i lay there in disbelief for a few minutes before a huge smile crossed my face. thank you God, for this tiny gift. it was perfect.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

mom's chanting

my mother chants prayers in Persian. she has the most beautiful voice. of course i had always heard it growing up, around the house, when i went bed, in large gatherings, weddings, with friends and with acquaintances.
most recently, however, i have been hearing it as she puts my little niece to sleep. and it works like magic. we will be driving in the car, she will begin to chant, and within seconds - sleep.
it reminds me of my childhood. it reminds me of protection. of feeling taken care of.
today she chanted for the little one. i held her in my arms and mom sat on the rug on the floor and chanted. after 2 prayers she stopped and said: this is the one i would say for you and your sister every day when you lived overseas.
and she chanted. she chanted and tears streamed down her face. as did mine.
and soraya fell asleep in my arms.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

peach cobbler

there are so many different types of friendships - each playing a unique role. the friend who you can call when your boyfriend just broke up with you. the friend who you take shopping. the friend who you know will give you the very best advice. the friend who will look at you when you are at your worse and still tell you you are beautiful. all kinds of friends who you know will be there for you, you know you can rely on, you know that you are blessed to have.

and then there are the rare few who completely inspire you. the ones where it feels like they fell from the sky and landed on your face. you can't wait until you see them next because there is just so much to share, process, and figure out.
you can stay up until 4am talking about nothing and then everything. you take out your phone to send a message and there is already one waiting for you.
you know you're lucky when you can laugh and laugh about nonsense and then turn right around in that very instant and carry their burden for them, and them for you.

you are excited when they are excited, nervous when they are nervous, and encouraging when they have no where else to go.
you get to the point where you can look at each other and know the next few words before they have even been uttered. and often times when those words are uttered they are even better and more eloquent than you yourself could have put it. they somehow know your experiences and put them in words before you even know how.
you can anticipate a look, an emotion, a thought - before it even happens.
these are rare friends. friends that you know, somehow, you will always be connected to because your souls have intertwined.
what's most peculiar is when these friendships emerge when you least expect them to, and become solid in ways you wouldn't usually suspect.

there is always that moment when you know. when you realize that you are willing to sacrifice even your own happiness for theirs.
and you look back and see how blessed you are. for their light in your life. for the wonderful way they make you feel. for the person you are when you are around them.

and when you realize, you have to make certain they know.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the suburbs

today we pulled up to the house. way out in the suburbs, where i am visiting family.
a white bag was laying on the front stairs. kind of bulky, you could tell its contents were heavy.
dad picked it up and took it inside.
"dad, you don't even know what that is, why are you bringing that into the house?"
"it's a phone d..."
"a what?!?"
"a phone dire..."
"i can't hear you, a what?!?"...i didn't know if it was that he was actually not finishing his words or that i was in such disbelief that i was refusing to hear him.
"did you say a phone directory? like those big yellow books?"
"yes."
i'll be the first to admit, i had NO idea they even made those anymore.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

home?

Tonight is my last night in Brooklyn before leaving for a month long sojourn. I am excited, as I always am before a trip, for the anticipation of what's ahead.
I know already that the time will be rewarding, fruitful, and full of moments that I will forever cherish. Trips are always like that for me. Spending time with family is always like that for me.
But.
For some reason.
This time, it feels different to leave New York. To leave Brooklyn.
Can't quite put my finger on it but I have a feeling it has something to do with finally feeling like this is my home. I am and will always be a traveler. It is by nature what I enjoy. But most of the time when I leave NYC it is a relief.
This time it feels like leaving home.
In almost 7 years this is the first time I have felt like this. I'm not one to feel completely settled or drawn to a place in hopes of settling. But for some reason, this feels like that. Like I'll miss home.
This summer I learned what it means to just be. And to enjoy. And to make this my home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

heat advisory

in the last 7 years of living in NYC, there have been two days, that i know of, that have been designated as "heat advisory" days. these are days where it is too hot for you to even go outside. being outside should be done at your own risk and when you have fully hydrated. these days are exciting, the same way rainy days are, because you feel like you are forced to stay in the house. you can feel that even though the sun is shining and it looks like a glorious day to explore and exert energy, you really don't have do. in fact you shouldn't.
you are doing what you need to be doing. staying indoors. not letting the extreme heat effect you.
something about the ease of that feels just right. and lets you veg at home all day. without any feelings of guilt that you are missing out on summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

breakfast sandwich.

There is this place that opened up downstairs. I think I have mentioned it before - a 24 hour organic grocery store. Literally right downstairs.
Now I have always been a fan of their things, although, admittedly, they are a little overpriced. However, during my much loved and cherished summer vacation, I get to actually appreciate the full value of this establishment.
Each time I go in, I discover something new and astonishing about them. Like take the other morning for example. It was the first day in summer thus far that I had truly slept in. Groggy, I realized what it was I wanted today. A breakfast sandwich. A breakfast sandwich and an iced coffee. I remembered my old favorite, the place I frequented when I lived a little further down the street. I'd pick up bagels from one place and walk next door to ask them to put the breakfast sandwich they make on my bagel instead of a roll. Bratty? Some may agree - I'd prefer to say that I just know what's good and I'll do whatever it takes to achieve it.
But this morning. This morning that I had slept in and was still a little groggy - that walk was sounding like just too much for a breakfast sandwich, good as it might be.
After taking far longer than needed to put on a dress and get out the door, I decided to just look downstairs and see what they have for breakfast. Maybe they will have a bagel with cream cheese? A croissant? Anything that would taste delicious.
I walk in and receive from them the look that I know means, "how nice that you woke up today" and I walked over to the guy behind the counter and asked if, by any chance, they made breakfast sandwiches.
Yup, we sure do, what do you want on it.
HUH?
What do you want on it?
omg omg omg, internalize, internalize, internalize.
Wait, you guys down here make breakfast sandwiches, like - on a bagel?
WHAT DO YOU WANT ON IT?

I quickly ordered and 2 minutes later was back upstairs taking a bite. Now this could be the most dangerous thing, but in that moment, it was as if the skies had opened up and dropped a little organic market right below my house. Where all my dreams came true.