Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quote of the Day

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
Mark Twain, who seems to have predicted the Bush presidency

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hair Tip of the Day

Beer is a beverage, not a styling agent.

If you live in a country barely recovering from war and sanctions, it may make sense to find natural alternatives to beauty products. For example, fresh cucumber skins left over from your salad actually make a pretty decent facial mask. However, looking for non-alcoholic beer which is in short supply (because people are trying to make alcoholic beer with it) to use as hair spray is not the greatest idea. First of all, it doesn't work that well. Second of all, it smells funny. Third, it is easier finding overpriced, imported hairspray. And finally, if your mother manages to somehow style your hair with it, DO NOT think you can ever replicate the results.

Now while it may seem silly to use non-alcoholic beer as a hairspray and/or gel substitute in a bind; it is insane to do so on a regular Saturday, when you're sitting in your dorm room, wondering how you can make your hair look good for the party later in the evening. Why is it insane? First, you live in a dorm, where alcohol is prohibited. Not that that has stopped anyone else from bringing it in, but the rule does exist none the less. Then there is the problem of obtaining beer when you're under 21 and don't have a car. It is amazing how many people will stare at you in disbelief when you swear you don't want to drink beer, but spray it in your hair. Go ahead, try and convince people that not only do you not consume alcohol, but that you are trying to recreate a hairstyle from a few years back. I promise the damage to your reputation will take years to repair. Of course, once you find a person willing to share their beer with you, it will come at a price--they will want to actually watch you in your full, mad glory. Which is fair, just awkward and time consuming. Very, very time consuming. The good news is, when you eventually make it out the door with your beer-styled hair and new dress, half the dorm will cheer you on and make you promise to tell them how the night goes. You have an audience waiting for you!

Once you leave the dorm with your 'unique' hairstyle, you may realize that people are looking at you with confusion. After all, how many times to do you expect to encounter a cleanly dressed young woman on a college campus, smelling of beer and perfume walking along sober as daylight? Those looks are not of admiration for your sense of style. People will continue to notice you: at the party, at the BBQ line and finally when you sit down to eat. Just be prepared to answer the question, "Do you smell beer?", every five minutes or so. Brace yourself for the hysterical laughter that follows your answer, and do not feel obligated to help anyone back in their chair if they fall over. Their mothers should have taught them some manners.

(Sidebar: Gentlemen, I must say that for all your claims of loving beer, you're very picky. Apparently, you have something against people who smell like beer, even if you try to drown yourselves in the damn stuff. I mean, I've never been fond of the smell of beer, which is why I hear it is a good idea to mask the smell with a nice, feminine perfume.)

In conclusion, beer is better as a beverage than a styling product. It is not worth the trouble, especially if there is enough hairspray in your building to burn a hole in the ozone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quote of the Day

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
Ray Bradbury

Monday, May 28, 2007

Life in Hell

I hate the news, but like an addict I crave it constantly. It is in reading, seeing and knowing these things, that I know I am still alive. To steal a line from Trent Reznor, I read it to 'see if I still feel'. It is then that I know I must be alive, or a masochist--perhaps both.

Today's moment in hell, brought to me by the NY Times (which I have been spending too much time reading), about young refugee girls in Syria forced into prostitution to support themselves and their families. This is what has become of a nation stupidly, blindly and arrogantly attacked and crushed by war. It is these women who are paying the price, with their bodies. They will not fill the seats of universities, the nursing stations of hospitals or even the unmarked graves in their country. They will be walk the streets of neighboring countries who have let them in but cannot sustain them. They will sell their bodies for less than the price of the medicine their family needs, because that is what they have been reduced to. These girls, who have never known peace, who have never known health or fulfillment of the simplest wishes. What do they dream of? What do they think? What will they become? Will they be the living dead, knowing they can never enter respectable society? Will they die under the fists of drunks who have paid pennies for their bodies? Or will they suffer the slow, agonizing life crippled by diseases no one bothered to protect them against?

Not long ago, I used to read the blog of a young woman in Baghdad, known to many as Riverbend. She seemed intelligent and honest about what she saw around her. Some of her stories reminded me of living in Tehran during the war (although God knows, my experience was heaven in comparison). Every time I read her blog, I thought, "She could be me." She seemed to be about my age, in a different life we could have been friends--or enemies. But I found myself worrying about her when she didn't update her blog for extended periods. Recently, she and her family decided to leave Baghdad. Now I wonder where she is, and how they're getting by. Have they found peace, or is it just a new chapter in hell?

Does anyone even care? For this our men and women are dying. For this outcome, children are losing their parents, and parents are losing their children. I don't care for the tax dollars going into this war, it is the price we pay for electing this administration. I don't care for the freedoms I lose, it is the price I pay for my fear and silence. But in moments like this, I cannot understand why others must pay with their lives for such conceit.

I believe in hell--I must. How else will I be able to think of the Bushes, Cheneys and Rumsfelds of this world, knowing there will be no justice for them in this lifetime?

Sadly, I'm not in Kansas (City) anymore

For the first, and possibly the last time in my life, I wish I was in Kansas City so I could rescue these books. It's strange that this bookstore owner would set fire to books no one wants as a form of protest. When I lived in Iran in the 80s, I literally hunted books the way most kids my age were hunting for contraband American movies and music. I learned Farsi for the express reason of expanding my reading possibilities (oh, and not getting the life beat out of me for failing in school).

The strange thing is, I just read an article in the NY Times, about how literary reading has been going down in Iran, because the publishing industry is constantly under attack of new rules and restrictions. Sadly now, as when I was living there, one of the few and most popular books in regular supply are Danielle Steel novels (the first time I heard of Danielle Steel was in Iran, when a bookstore owner recommended her books as "very popular with young ladies"). It confused me then; and it confuses the hell out of me now. Of course, traditional Iranian poetry and literature is abundant and rich--but it is not enough. Unfortunately, from what I have seen, the younger generation doesn't read traditional literature because it's familiar and sometimes too rich. It seems there aren't many alternatives: Rumi and friends, or Ms. Steel.

So it seems once again there is an abundance of imbalance. Too many unwanted books in KC (for lack of interest) and too much lack of interest in Iran for dearth of books. Ideally, I'd like to go to KC, pack up the 20,000 unwanted books and give them a good home--my home. Or maybe if I'm very altruistic, a local prison. Hell, why not ship them to New Orleans and donate them to a library that was washed away there?

How bad can a trip to Kansas City be?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I've never been a millionaire but I just know I'd be darling at it."
Dorothy Parker, Wit

Random Thoughts of an Insomniac

Since I can't sleep, I thought I'd share some very random thoughts:

  • Apparently, this Administration has no shame when it comes to sending people to represent us on the world stage. Stellar 'diplomats' like John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and Randy Tobias seem to be the best we have to offer. With the World Bank leadership left vacant by Mr. Wolfowitz, and the Administration insisting another American assume leadership, I'm a little worried Donald Rumsfeld or Paul Bremer will be asked to put their experience to good use.
  • If Mexico is too close for a vacation destination, and China is too far--what would the perfect vacation spot for a city mouse be?
  • I am sabotaging my own attempts at anonymity. Considering my lifelong experience of being nearly invisible, being completely anonymous on top of that was too much for me to handle. I'm sure this will come back to bite me, but like a moth to a flame, I cannot help myself.
  • In case anyone thought I unfairly targeted the Muslim or Jewish faiths for having odd followers, I have two words: Jerry Fallwell. And while he is gone, it seems he is not forgotten. I'm not sure what this guy was going to do with five 'napalm' like bombs, but it seems he would never insult the loving memory of Jerry and harm anyone.
  • In the span of the last week, I have watched Children of Men and V for Vendetta and enjoyed them both--despite my reputation for liking period dramas (I don't like them, I love them). Interestingly, Children imagines the collapse of democratic society pushed to chaos with fear used to control people into submission; Vendetta imagines the collapse of democratic society squeezed into a regimented and numb order, with fear used to control people into submission. The media was manipulating and lying to people in both movies. Of course, that would never happen in real life. Let's all get back to watching Bill O'Reilly and Nancy Grace.
  • What is considered a good graduation gift? I have a list of graduates, and no gifts.
All this and a bowl of cereal, and I'm still wide awake!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Killing Cousins

One of my worst habits, is my obsession with the news and world events. It wouldn't be so bad, if as my father used to say, it made me money. Nor would it be so bad, if it didn't drive me crazy. So bothered am I by the news and the people in the news that I go through phases where all I do is read online publications. And while this habit has not made me rich (it's actually kind of costly) and I have been known to bore people to tears with my analysis, I'm proud to say I have learned a few things. One of the most important lessons is, that humans as a race are insane.

Yes, there are some exceptions out there, the smart, the sane, the occasionally brilliant types (you know who you are) who just don't understand the rest of the madness, but for the most part, we are $!@$# crazy.

A few clarifications: I believe in God. I was raised in a Muslim family and culture, but do not practice in any decipherable way. I have an ongoing fascination with all religions--Satanism and Scientology being the possible exceptions. It is the hobby of reading about religions that led me to believe that Judaism and Islam have a lot more in common than Christianity does with either religion. Our rituals and dietary laws are similar, Hebrew and Arabic actually have a lot in common, we look alike and so on. With the exception of the problem going on in the Middle East, we're like long lost cousins if you ask me. And now, I have further proof of this theory.

Apparently, some Hasidim do not consider computers or the internet to be kosher. According to the article, there was a battle of sorts against televisions, but that has been won. The next evil is computers and the internet.

Frankly, I think they are behind the times, because in Iran, there is a crazy mullah who suddenly developed a fan base outside of Iran. Ayatollah Hassani would famously speak at Friday prayers (theoretically a station reserved for those who at least act sane in public) in Azarbaijan, uttering such ridiculous things, that people started traveling to Tabriz from Tehran with the express intention of recording his rants and posting them on the internet. Anyway, it is in one of these recordings (available in Farsi, sorry) that Hassani declared computers and the internet frivolous and a distraction from virtue. He then went on a tirade yelling at people (during a prayer sermon) for demanding electricity which could be used for computers, which in turn could find 'immoral' things.

Why do these people not just get along? They have so much in common!

To summarize, a) people are crazy b) people can be crazy in any religion c) the internet is not kosher/halal.

I will at some point in the near future defend the concept of religion, and this story cannot be used against me in that argument.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Embassy Suites

I'm sure some of you read the internets and have developed ideas about things like the war and the conditions in Iraq. You may hear that people in Iraq are angry that nothing is being built and that they don't have water or electricity. This is obviously a plot by the liberal media types that want us to lose the war and the Iraqis who have no appreciation for our construction efforts. To those who say we don't have anything to show for our construction efforts, I say, "Psha!". We have accomplished our mission--again. And almost on time and on budget.

The $592 million embassy occupies a chunk of prime real estate two-thirds the size of Washington's National Mall, with desk space for about 1,000 people behind high, blast-resistant walls. The compound is a symbol both of how much the United States has invested in Iraq and how the circumstances of its involvement are changing.

Just goes to show that the liberal media are defeatocrats, and that Iraqis have no sense of gratitude for our rebuilding efforts. Ingrates!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Promises, Promises

I thought I should mention that I am capable of thinking deep thoughts.

This blog was not meant to be just about the hair, however, it just so happens that a few recent discussions have brought some memories to the surface that I had spent a number of years pushing away. Since these memories range from the ridiculous to the slightly serious (you may find a couple of character building lessons in there) I thought I would share them with everyone, until I have time to write a few things of substance. That does not mean that a majority of what is to come won't be about me in some way. As most people who know me are aware by now, it's usually about me.

So, please keep reading--and commenting!!! I love comments.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If one has no vanity in this life of ours, there is no sufficient reason for living."
Leo Tolstoy, the only Russian author worth reading

Hair Tip of the Day

Irons are for clothing, linens and drapes, not for hair.

Resist the urge to listen to your roommate's slightly inebriated cousin who has just returned from Nogales, no matter how much she insists she knows how to style hair. When you see her plug in an iron that is older than your roommate, politely grab your id and find refuge in another dorm room until the effects of alcohol have worn off. Laying your head down close to the ironing board and asking her to be careful will not protect your scalp from the searing, hot metal. Especially if she doesn't have a good grasp of English, and you don't speak a lick of Spanish. If you have not left the room at this point, frankly nothing will save your scalp.

Now it may be tempting to think back to your childhood/adolescence when your aunt regaled you with stories of her tresses. Block those memories, and keep reminding yourself that a) your aunt dabbled in illegal substances on occasion b) she had some professional training and natural skills in these matters and c) her hair fell all the way down her back--EVEN WHEN IT WAS IN FULL CURL MODE! This is an important detail. There is a lot more room for error when your hair is that long. If you singe a few inches, your scalp will not be blistered and you still have long hair. Your bob does not have that flexibility.

Also remember, your scalp is your friend. Any damage to it can distract you--or send you to student health for medical treatment. Should this happen, you will be instructed not to 'treat or style' your hair until the blisters have gone away. This will guarantee you many more bad hair days. The blisters on your ear will garner stupid jokes such as, "Your ears must be burning!" from every idiot on campus and thwart your attempts at dignity for at least two semesters.

If you must wave hot metal close to your head, choose the kind of iron that is designed for hair styling, known as a "Curling Iron" or "Flattening Iron" as appropriate. These gizmos are fairly inexpensive and easy to find at your local drugstore or beauty supply shop.

In conclusion, irons, alcohol and hair don't mix. ESPECIALLY the iron.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hair Tip of the Day

If you're spending the greater part of the weekend desperately trying to manage your hair and make a good impression on a Monday morning interview, DO NOT take beauty tips from Julia Roberts' crazy antics in Dying Young, even if every overly sentimental girl in your dorm insists you watch it and learn.

Apparently, slathering your hair with the contents of a jar of mayonnaise will not make your hair shiny and healthy, allowing it to capture the attention and awe of young men everywhere. Nor will it wash out and leave you where you were before you opened the jar of mayonnaise. Instead, it will leave your hair dull, heavy and greasy, even after numerous washes with scalding hot water. When young men and potential employers do notice your hair, you will not inspire comparisons to Klimt's work, but they may politely ask if you lost a bet. Later, you will hear the phrase "We just didn't think you'd be a good fit" from the employer with no potential.

At this point, I recommend you quietly return to your dorm and try to wash out the grease stains on you shirt, pillowcase and towel. Or, save yourself some change and just throw them all out--that much oil doesn't wash out.

Repeating experiment with Miracle Whip will give you same, tragic results. Accept the fact that your hair will never look like Julia Roberts' hair and move on.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Misery Loves Company

Well, since people are talking about their worst jobs ever, I thought I'd add my two cents, even if it’s not nearly as horrible as anything anyone else has posted.

There was my first job out of college that required me to incubate, dissect and test 3 dozen fertilized eggs twice a week (couldn’t eat eggs for a couple of years) and post my findings on my boss’s porn filled computer. Or a similar job dissecting mice and testing their internal organs (minus the porn filled computer).

But my current favorite past job is when I was working as the non-kitchen staff of a restaurant owned by a family acquaintance. It was not a good situation, considering how everyone hated me and blamed me for the restaurant’s poor performance (no, I wasn’t the manager, or in any way in charge of the running of the business). The high point came when the owner suggested I wear a ‘nice’ dress and stand on the street corner to hand out menus to passers-by. Did I mention the establishment was trying to gain recognition as a high-end restaurant in a slightly low-end neighborhood? I was finally put out of my misery when he fired me while I was at my brother’s wedding. Classy!

So, like I said, not as bad as everyone else's, but just a little ick anyway.


I love food. Not in a gourmet, eat out all the time kind of way, necessarily--but I do love food. I love the togetherness it entails, the cultural windows it opens, the love that goes into preparing it. I love expressions like "breaking bread", "sitting at our table" and all the other food related sayings that every culture has promising community and generosity.

Lately, I have developed a craving for fresh bread. Back home, one of the simple luxuries--and favorite errands--was going to get fresh bread every day. Since traditional Iranian breads are flat, it doesn't take more than a few minutes in a blazing stone oven to bake. You stand in line at the bread bakery, tell the baker how many you want (with or without sesame seeds) and a few minutes later you're walking home and stuffing your face with beautiful, fresh bread.

In light of my new craving, and the sudden availability of guilt-free time due to the completion of my graduate project, I have decided to try and bake bread this weekend. And cook. I already cleaned the place last weekend, so I'll be good for another month or so. But I will definately be baking and cooking. I don't know what exactly, but I'll be cooking.

Come on by, there should be plenty of left-overs by Sunday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quote of the Day

"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. "

Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Right Like a Broken Watch

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I have found myself occasionally agreeing with Pat Buchanan. For example, when he called for Bush's impeachment, I cheered--until I read the fine print and reason for this call. Or when he says that Bush should stop before he starts another war (against Iran), I did the happy dance. Frankly, when a man even the Right considers extreme thinks this administration is crazy, I think there is a little hope. However, I realize my agreeing with Pat is like saying a broken watch is right sometimes.

Why am I thinking about Pat tonight, instead of jogging? Because a friend of mine sent me this article, in which Pat logically ties the tragedy at Virginia Tech to the immigration problem. Apparently, the tragedy could have been prevented if fewer immigrants were allowed in this country. He seems to be under the impression that immigrants and their disenfranchised, misanthropic offspring are the downfall of this country. Fascinating.

Now, maybe it's because I'm the child of immigrants/first generation immigrant myself, but when I first read this, I was hopping mad. Literally hopping. Perhaps it was because anti-immigrant sentiments like this used to result in me getting the crap beat out of me on the playground. Perhaps because I always thought this country, in its current state, was created by immigrants. Or maybe it was because I don't like dumb-ass people linking the death of thirty two* innocent people to a political issue that has nothing to do with anything. I don't know, but it just pisses me off.

Then, I thought a little bit about the examples Pat had brought to prove his point and I realized I was being irrational. Immigrants (and their maladjusted offspring) are a huge problem and are responsible for the crimes that are destroying this society. I too, have proof for what I say.

If it weren't for the flood of undocumented and illegal immigrants from England (and the rest of Europe) in the late 17th-early 18th century, who were so liberally allowed to benefit from the generosity of the legal residents and citizens of this land, there would not have been a slaughter of the natives on this continent. Angry decedents of immigrants such as John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and John Hinckley , Jr. killed (or tried to kill) US presidents. Other misanthropic decedents such as Dennis Rader (BTK seriel killer), Jeffery Dahlmer, Theodore Kaczynski (The Unabomber), Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bomber), Charles Whitman (Watchtower shooter in Austin, TX), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine), John Wayne Gacy, Jr., Charles Manson and the David Berkowitz (aka the Son-of-Sam) have all contributed to an atmosphere of horror, forever changing the way we look at immigrants and their descendants in this country.

Thank goodness for intelligent people like Pat who aren't afraid to look society's problems in the eye and lay blame where it belongs.

*A correction.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Quote of the Day

"With all due respect, I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me."
Gary Shandling, on Real Time with Bill Maher

About the Hair

I guess I should explain about the name of this blog.

My hair has been the issue of great controversy since before I was born. When my very young mother found out she was pregnant, she prayed for a little girl. Implicit in that prayer, was the desire to 'decorate and play with my hair', but she didn't specify that and as a result, God gave her a little girl unlike any other Iranian girl she had ever seen before: practically bald with a layer of soft, blond hair.

If you have ever seen a child born to two Iranians, you will realize that it was an almost spiteful answer to her prayers. For months (partially due to postpartum depression, I hope, not just despair over my appearance), she cried and tried in vain to pull my non-existant strands into various ribbons and bows. This continued for a couple of years, during which time she discovered furry hats, little scarves and other such ornaments to make up for my semi-baldness. By the time I was three, she was desparate enough to try anything, including trusting me to my adolecent uncle. He, being and adolecent and a prankster of sorts at the time, took me to the barber shop where he was having his head shaved for the new school year. After demonstrating how painless the process was, he plopped me the barber's chair and instructed the man to shave my head. I was apparently fine with this--until we got home.

As we walked in, I saw my grandfather sitting in front of his mirror, carefully combing his thick, white mane. I touched my shaved head and teared up. Then I wailed uncontrollably, declaring "I wanted HAIR!" I wanted to comb my hair the way my Baba did. Thankfully, someone thought of getting me ice cream. But the damage was done: for the rest of my life I would be self-conscience about my hair.

My hair eventually grew out to reveal my true heritage. My mom took control and became my personal stylist no matter how bad life got and I never touched my hair until I was 18 years old. During those years she, cut, braided, straightened, curled, styled and otherwise worked on my hair. Most of the time, she would spend hours straightening it and making sure every strand was in place.

Then, in 1991 I moved away from home, away from my mother for the first time. I returned to the US with my father, landing in Chicago on our way to see our friends and family. The first time I washed my hair, I realized something terrible. My hair was undeniably curly, and not as a result of anything that I had done. I had no way of making myself presentable, as I had never combed my own hair; I didn't even know that the humidity was amplifying my problem. That morning, I felt I was not who I had thought myself to be all those years.

On that November morning, my personal battle began. There is nothing like a vain person losing a daily struggle with their appearance.

Years of bad hair days, assorted hair cuts, stylists and hair products later, I heard of a collection of short stories by David Foster Wallace called Girl with Curious Hair. I never read the short stories, but loved the title so much I was sure it was about a girl who suddenly found herself sitting on the edge of a bathtub in Chicago, wondering why the hell she looks like Medusa.

Monday, May 7, 2007

There's Some Ointment on my Fly

Have you ever heard the expression, "fly in the ointment"? Well, I've moved far beyond that. Right now, the only ointment to be seen is on the greasy little feet of the fly that is hovering over my head.

As I have posted elsewhere, I was in Phoenix last week, defending my graduate project/thesis. It took a long, long time to get to that point and when it was over, I literally cried tears of joy. I defended, I submitted documents, I filed and refiled; in short, I did everything I thought I had to do to leave the state of Arizona no longer a student. When got in the car to leave campus, I was crying tears of relief from the kind of exhaustion one feels in the bones. I felt body numbing joy.

Unfortunately, I am not accustomed to long term happiness. My sense of paranoia is one of my more endearing traits, it has contributed to my survival on a couple of occasions. It was this feeling that made me call the Graduate College on Friday afternoon to make sure they weren't missing anything. Considering the many, many things that had gone wrong during my graduate program, it seemed appropriate that I double and triple check things before I got used to the fuzzy feeling of happiness. And that's when I heard the bad news.

"Oh, yes. Here are the notes I had made, Miss. We sent you some emails a few months back, but they bounced. Basically, we need you to file your POS electronically. We shredded all of the paper forms you originally submitted."

I felt waves of nausea. And really, really pissed off. Not at anyone in particular (except myself), just at the situation in general.

An hour later, after trying to refile my forms electronically, calling half the people I knew in variously involved departments and I had to try to calmly speak to the nice lady who had shredded my papers. It seems that while they destroyed my paper documents, they didn't bother to enter the correct information to my account which would allow me to complete documents online. I'd have to get the entire department involved in my filing process. AGAIN!

The good news is, if I feel the urge to don an overpriced polyester robe and a slippery polyester cap and walk around campus in Arizona's summer heat, no one will stop me. Why would they? They're probably sitting in an air conditioned room laughing at me. However, I still have to find a way to resolve this issue in time to meet a deadline that will allow me to have my overpriced piece of paper in my sweaty little hands by mid-summer.

Once all that is over, I will resume my new practice of experiencing joy.