Monday, April 23, 2012

some weekends

There are some weekends that just make you happy. You look back on them and think - that was good. It was a great combination of all things that make me happy.

 Weekends like this may include, but are not limited to:

* Good iced coffe.
* A "massage crawl" in China Town - yah, you read right. A back massage here, a scalp massage there, work on my feet in this place...
* Spring dresses and happy people.
* A cute neighborhood cafe, parachute blossoms, and a meeting of the hearts.
* Kale salad with good friends.
* Candlelight dinners.
* Reading in bed while it heavily rains outside.
* A screening room, candy, and great company.
* Brunch and catch-up with an old and dear friend.
* Tortilla soup.

I have to remember small and big moments like these that make my weekends something so special to look forward to.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I spent the last week and a half with my family at my parents' new home in Santiago, Chile. It was my first visit there. I didn't know what to expect and, quite frankly, didn't have MUCH expectation. I just wanted to see my family. I missed my family. And the moment I steeped foot into my parents' new place, I was home. It's a silly, silly expression. Well - not silly, but cliche: home is where the heart is. But really. It is.
Within a few moments I was saying, "I'm so happy to be home." Because there is where the people who love me stay. There it is where I am taken care of. I'm a grown-up now but still, being in the home of my mother and father, makes me a kid once again. My functionality lessens in a way that feels good momentarily. I let other people make decisions. And allow myself to relax. I was home. And I couldn't even look at my mom and dad without crying. I wanted to tell them how much I loved being home. I wanted to tell them how much I had missed them. But if I opened my mouth, I knew I'd loose it. But I'm sure they knew. I'm sure we all felt it. We all loved "being home".

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I remember the room being pretty dark, especially for a Kindergarten classroom…

I looked around trying to find something on the walls that looked familiar, but it was hard to see. There were a few large posters with lots of words on them that were placed neatly around the walls, unlike the frames of our many family members that hung haphazardly around our home. The walls were painted the same yellow that I noticed in the long hallway on the way to the classroom. There were accents of that yellow in the Persian rugs that lay on the floor of our apartment and the calligraphy that joined the family photographs up on our walls.

I heard the teacher say something and then everyone began to make their way to the middle of the room and create a circle. I could make out only part of what she was saying but from watching the other kids, I understood that she was telling us to sit down. My face scrunched up slightly as my body made contact with the cold and hard ceramic floor. We were all sitting in a circle, our tiny legs folded perfectly, knee to knee, almost touching the person next to us. It was a big circle of tiny bodies sitting and waiting, nervously anticipating the first day of school. My teacher sat on the big wooden chair right across the circle from me, her hands folded on her lap. I folded mine on my lap, too.

I looked around at all my classmates searching for which one had big brown eyes like my cousins and I had. I watched curiously to see if anyone else had wild curly black hair (now tied back in pig-tails) just like me. My hair was starting to hurt but I didn’t want to remove my hands from my lap to touch it. I had watched my mother comb and pull at it earlier that morning. I wished she hadn’t pulled so hard. I sat with my legs criss-crossed in the beautiful dress that my mother had sewn for me. She sewed all my dresses, and I proudly wore each one. My little hands outlined the purple and yellow flowers that made up the pattern. I kept my eyes on the flowers. I remembered them making their way through the sewing machine. The rhythmic pounding kept me company while I colored. My mother had bought me a Cinderella coloring book, just like the girl next door had. I loved it so much. I would always color as she sewed.

And then it was time to introduce ourselves. Right next to the teacher, also directly across from me, were a few boys that I noticed right away. I saw their wide, crooked smiles. One had messy brown hair and was wearing a bright shirt. The other had a face covered in freckles and big blue eyes. The boy with the freckles caught me staring and I immediately looked down again.

I listened as we went around the circle and everyone introduced themselves.
"I'm Sarah."
“Hi Sarah.” The teacher led everyone all together, as my eyes widened.
"My name is Alex."
“Hi Alex.” I slightly shook in surprise as again the whole class joined together to repeat Alex’s name.
“Hi John.” I listened.
"I'm Elizabeth."
“Hi Elizabeth.” This time I joined in a hushed whisper under my breath.

My heart began to pound in my little chest. I waited nervously, whispering everyone’s names, not wanting to say my own.

"I'm Laura." That was the girl sitting right next to me.
“Hi Laura.”

It was my turn now. It was quiet for a moment and I heard the boys across the circle begin to move a little bit. I opened my mouth to speak. My heart was now beating so loudly in my ears I was afraid they could hear it.
"Sahba." I whispered.

The word had barely left my lips when I heard the laughter from across the circle. The boys began pointing and laughing.
"What did you say?" My teacher said.
I repeated my name. Again. Again, more laughing.
"Ok, next."
And then we moved on to Aaron.

My face got really hot and I started rubbing the pattern of the flowers even harder. I kept swallowing, over and over, to try and get rid of the big bump in my throat. My hair was really hurting now. I didn’t talk for the rest of the day in class. I kept my eyes on the flowers and my hands on my lap.

As soon as I saw our blue VW Bug pull up at the end of the day, I ran out to the car before my parents could even get out. I slammed the door shut and sunk low into the backseat until my feet hit the floor. I saw them looking at each other and they started to whisper. I let one tear fall down my cheek. Finally. From between the two seats I could see that my mom was holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for me, rather than last nights leftovers. They asked me in Farsi how it was.

I sat in the backseat for a minute and then moved my body up to fit right in between the two seats in the front, thankful they had both come to pick me up today. I stayed quiet at first, thinking about how much I should tell them. My mother turned to face me. I looked at the lines on her forehead, all bunched together and her eyes wide with concern. My dad started to drive. I let out a long, long breath.

"I hate my name. I'm changing it."

There was silence. It felt like a long time. I watched the yellow lines in the middle of the street. They reminded me of the walls of my classroom. My hair started to hurt again and I pulled at my pig-tails, releasing the hair that was so tightly bound. It was quiet in the car for a long time.

"Ok,” my dad said gently, “what do you want to be called?"

I didn’t know he was going to ask me that.
Again, silence. The yellow lines kept whizzing by. The lump in my throat began to go away.

"Sandy. Or Sally.”

There was a long pause as they passed glances back and forth. At one point my mother shrugged and handed me my sandwich. When she turned to face me, I saw a tear inching its way out of the corner of her eye. She quickly wiped it away.

She looked at my father and shrugged again and gave him a side nod.
"How about Amy?" he offered.
Amy. I liked the sound of that.

That was the moment that my name changed. I became Amy for the rest of elementary school and well into high-school.

And every year on the first day of school, I relived that Kindergarten moment, as my new teachers would read through the roster and then pause when they got to my name trying to decide which one to say first. “Um…Amy?”



Fear holds us back from taking a risk, making a move, forming an apology.
We let fear hinder us from growing, from changing, from being free.
It often takes hold slowly, methodically.
It creeps in. And then it just sits there, allowing you to believe that functioning with it is your only choice.


It doesn't let you function at your full capacity.
We learn to accept it as normal.
Feed it.
Engage it.
Let it manipulate us.

Because facing it is far too hard. Somehow facing it requires admitting failure.

Although, when released - as painful as that immediately may be - the freedom creates a happiness and a peace that the soul only feels when it has come home.