Monday, August 27, 2007

Are You Willing to Participate in a Survey?

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing the same thing I do most Sunday afternoons--procrastinating doing anything of meaning as quietly as possible since M was napping. Of course, the laws of the Universe dictate that the phone will ring only when someone lays down to take a nap. On this particular occasion, I jumped over part of the couch, almost broke my wrist and tried to find the phone before the second ring. It rang a second time by the time I got to it.

In my rush to shut it off, I didn't look to see who was actually calling us. Big mistake.


"Yes, good afternoon ma'am. My name is Old Man Blah, and I'm calling from the University of California, Berkeley to conduct a survey of Iranian-Americans. Would you like to participate?"

By this time I was in the closet of our spare bedroom--which is as isolated and private as you can get in our tiny home.

"I'm sorry, who is this? And how did you get my phone number?"

Call me paranoid, but having lived in places where governments have no problems with violating personal rights, I kind of freak out when someone calls me specifically to ask my opinion based on my nationality/ethnicity.

"My name is Old Man Blah, and I'm calling from the University of California, Berkeley to conduct a survey of Iranian-Americans and their opinions. I will provide you with the name and phone number of the professor sponsoring the survey at the end of my questions. My first question is, Do you think the United States is headed in the right direction?"

And much like waving a giant red flag in front of a pissed off bull, without thinking I blurted, "No this country is not headed in the right direction!" I then realized that the man hadn't responded to my question about obtaining my phone number.

"Why do you not think the country is moving in the right direction?"

Again, I opened my mouth and responded, because I am not the kind of person who can contain myself or my opinions. "Well the so called foreign policy would be a good place to start. Wait, you never told me how you got my phone number. I'm sorry, I don't feel comfortable participating in a survey that has specifically identified me by my ethnic background."

You may wonder why I would worry about a survey conducted by someone at UC Berkeley, perhaps one of the country's most liberal universities. It's because while some people hear Berkeley and think of hippies, I hear Berkeley and think John Yoo. Yes, the same John Yoo who helped explain why torture isn't really torture and why it is acceptable for the President to use the afore mentioned non-torture when he deems it necessary. I'm not saying he's developing some kind of project to round up Iranian Americans before the US attacks Iran, I'm just saying it was weird to be called up on a lazy Sunday afternoon specifically because I am Iranian American.

Oh, and then things got a little strange.

Old Man Blah started yelling at me! "I said, this survey is being conducted for a professor at Berkeley. I will give you the professors name and contact information when you answer all of my questions. There is nothing suspicious about this!"

See, when a stranger calls your house, knows your ethnicity and wants to ask you questions--yelling that there is nothing strange going on, it kind of makes you think something strange may be going on.

"Could I at least have the name of the professor before I respond to the rest of your questions?"


I thought a few seconds before I responded, "I'm very sorry for wasting your time, but I don't feel comfortable talking to you right now. Thank you for your time."

I hung up and sat in the closet, with what must have been an expression of complete confusion. That is how M found me a couple of minutes later. I told him what had happened and he was so confused. "Why didn't you just hang up on him?"

Leave it to the scientist to over simplify complex socio-political issues.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Lyrics in This Post Do Not Reflect the Beliefs of the Poster

One of my more endearing characteristics (and by endearing, I mean entertaining to people in close proximity to me) is the fact that I sing along with songs oblivious to the lyrics and surroundings.

I don't know how I manage to sing along with songs for years and not actually pay attention to the lyrics, but I do this often--and they are usually songs that I should really pay attention to. When I was in college, I used to go jogging around the mall every night. I always listened to the same tape on my Walkman--Best of Police--and would try to sing along to Message in a Bottle, Every Breath You Take...One night, about three months into my running ritual, I was listening/singing to Don't Stand So Close to Me (which I loved), when I stopped dead in my tracks, started laughing uncontrollably and turned to run back towards my dorm. I ran into the building, up the stairs, burst into my room, where my roommate was curled on the bed reading, and announced, "You know that Police song? They're referencing Lolita! He's singing about a teacher who has a crush on his student!!"

My roommate barely looked up from her book to give me a deadpan look and asked, "How long have you been listening to that song?"

"Three or four months. Why?"

"You should pay attention to songs you sing along to. It's very entertaining, but you'll get yourself in trouble one day."

Of course, I still haven't lived down this incident. When we visit, she asks if I have discovered any hidden messages in old songs...

She was right. Years later, I was working at an Italian deli/market where I usually did everything that wasn't directly in contact with customers. I was helping with the bookkeeping, marketing, inventory, web design and menu designs. I shared the tiny office with the owner and was watched carefully by the almost all male staff who couldn't make heads or tails of what I was doing. They were all nice to me, but generally kept their distance. I mean, what would you think of a spiky haired young woman who works in the back room of a restaurant, wearing 'fancy pants'; one who eats her pizza with a fork and knife and who doesn't talk about her personal life?

All of this changed one day when I was doing inventory. I had my headphones on and was listening to the local Alternative Rock station. At the time there were two songs in heavy rotation, Limp Bizkit's Nookie and Korn's A.D.I.D.A.S. On this particular afternoon, they had played the two songs back to back--and I was singing along, pretty close to the top of my lungs, blissfully oblivious of the audience that was gathering at the doorway to listen. I have no idea how long they were there (ALL of them), but I'm assuming they got an earful--why else would they start applauding and whistling at the end of the song? I would like to say I handled the situation as gracefully as could be expected. I jumped out of my skin when I saw there was a crowd at the door (more applause and laughs), looked at them with a little confusion and asked if they needed to get anything from the storage room. To their credit, they just laughed and walked away, with one of them saying I should sing more often (of course I was flattered). It took me about a month of being asked questions about what I like to do after work by the guy behind the deli for me to figure out something had changed that afternoon. I finally asked the only other woman at the store what was going on and why the guys were always looking at me funny.

"Oh, they all think you're a nympho."

"What?!? Why?! Me?!? What??!?!"

She looked at me like I was mentally challenged. "I think it is because you were screaming, 'All day I dream about sex.' in the storage room last month."

"What? I did not!" Pause. Think. Panic!! When I realized for the FIRST TIME what I had been singing.

It is so sad that my school schedule no longer allowed me to work regular hours soon after that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beauty Tip of the Day

Body Shimmer is best applied with time, experience and a steady hand.

If you have made it to the ripe old age of whatever your age is without experiencing body shimmer, it's a good idea to practice when you have more than three minutes to leave the house, pick up your co-worker and lead a company-wide meeting. Otherwise you will look like you got into fisticuffs with Tinkerbell and lost.

After carefully applying moisturizer, foundation, mascara and lipstick, slowly walk away from the mysterious glittery cube that you recently discovered in the bottom of your drawer. Considering that as recently as a couple of weeks ago, your co-workers had to find subtle ways of telling you that you had forgotten to apply make-up to your whole face, or the mascara had smudged and given you a black eye, this is a good time to celebrate the small victory of not looking beat up.

Walk away from the glitter cube! Remember, not all free gifts with purchase are compatible with your lifestyle. If you did not spend hours looking for an item and practicing its application, it's a good idea not to experiment with it minutes before trying to impress people.

According to knowledgeable sources such as Benefit, such products offer 'subtle pink and gold highlights' giving a 'natural afterglow to the complexion'. Of course, they also instruct to use 'a dot' and a 'smidgen'. No where do they mention dunking your giant makeup brush firmly into the cube and liberally applying to your face. If you take matters into your own hand and apply generously, please know that you will be spending the next half hour washing your face, reapplying your makeup and inadvertently getting the damned Shimmer all over your face again because it is stuck to the brush that also applies your makeup and blush.

Lather, rinse and accept the fact that some days, the 'natural' look works best for you.

Bonus tip: If your colleagues look at you funny and ask why you have an interesting glow, tell them you may be pregnant. It's easier to explain and also justifies the slight delay in attending your own meeting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mothers and Daughters

Welcome to the world, my child, for we are one. From this day forward, your suffering is mine, and mine is yours. You will live a life that I wanted to live--I promise to give you each and every one of my dreams. You can walk down the path I was forbidden, you can achieve the ambitions that were out of my reach.

I will live my dreams through you, my perfect child. I know you will understand me, my pain and my sacrifices, for we are one. You will be my friend and savior, I will be yours. You will have what I never had, enjoying all the moments we will share together. I will see your imperfections and help you perfect them. You will see my imperfections, and understand them.

It will be you and I against the world now, my child, for we are one. Everyone will see how good I am, through your goodness. Your success, is my success; your happiness is mine. Your name above doors, will echo with everything I have given you. I will be there as you rise, encouraging you along the way. My strength is your strength, you missteps mine.

I know you will try to differ, but we are one. You will follow in my footsteps; for we are bound. Your path is chosen, you have no worries. I see your future when I look in your eyes, and promise to deliver you. You will never be lost, for I will always be by your side.

Remember no matter how far you go, we are one. Change your dress (not too short), color your hair (not too light), speak a new tongue (not too crass); but luckily we are still one. Your eyes can never deceive us. I know you and your destiny--it was once mine, no matter how much you try to escape it. I will set myself aside to help you get there, and share your joy when you arrive.

You will not understand this love, until your daughter arrives. She will pick up where you left off, and you will pick up my burden, as I picked up my mother's the day you arrived. You will continue your dreams through her; you will become one.

For that is our destiny, us mothers and daughters. We are one.

Just a Few Things Off the Top of My Head

So much has happened since my last real post, and thoughts and moments have come and gone. Rather than backtrack, I'm going to write about a whole bunch of stuff that may in no way be connected or related to each other:

  • I love writing. Desperately and passionately. I realize I may be a trite and unoriginal writer (if you think so, please don't tell me because I will have to hate you for the rest of our lives), but I truly derive joy from it. I have missed writing so much, that all this time I haven't been posting here (yes, the whole month or so), I have been thinking of things that I will write as soon as I have access to a non-work computer. I'm thinking of compiling an anthology of short stories by Iranian women who have immigrated. I'm also thinking of writing a collection of stories with the help of Anonymous Prankster about some of the more entertaining personalities who have crossed our paths (if I have had to endure their company, I think I should at least have a shot at financial gain for my pain and suffering).
  • Turd Blossom is leaving. Yay!! Of course, we will be left with the stench of said Turd for many years to come; but for now, I rejoice in the fact that the steaming heap is being removed.
  • We saw Bourne Ultimatum and we loved it--love love love. I was excited after reading the review on Pajiba--but the movie was brilliant. Especially if you take into account that I don't like action movies. I am looking for a good opportunity to beat someone up with a book. Perhaps someone who attacks my family/friends and my lifestyle while enjoying my hospitality?
  • How does one smoothly mention that one doesn't drink? Especially if a date has been set to share drinks and exchange stories with some charming people? I'm sure there are a number of dignified and intelligent ways of mentioning it, or just allowing it to be a non-issue. I personally like to blurt it out in the middle of completely unrelated conversations in hopes it will be out there, but largely unnoticed.
  • In a sudden burst of insanity, I'm thinking of cutting my hair very short again. The current bob is nice, but slightly boring-- at least when it is behaving. Left to its own nature, it's all kinds of kinky. The problem is, I have a wedding coming up and I don't want to have a questionable haircut for my good friend's special day. I have been waiting for this event since we were in college and I would prefer not to look like I was going through my annual mid-life crisis the day before the wedding. What to do, what to do?
  • What am I missing when it comes to men and cars?
  • Hug a scientist--chances are they're not only brilliant, but they are hilariously funny, loving and supportive as well.
  • I have a brain crush on Reza Aslan and Joshua Rushing. I have a brain crush on a lot of people, but I'm reading their books right now and am quite happy.
  • A little while ago, I read about Condi Rice going on a tour of the Middle East touting the 'aid package' that would help unite allies, etc. etc. My ears perked up just a little, until I realized that it was a MILITARY AID PACKAGE, meant to unite allies against Iran. Now, is it just me, or is it just a little crazy to arm the Saudi/Gulf and Egyptian governments--all of whom are distinctly anti-democratic human rights violators and encouragers of terrorists everywhere. I mean, of the people who attacked us on Sept. 11, none were Iranians; but quite a few were Saudis and Egyptians. Osama Bin Laden is/was a Saudi; his sidekick is Egyptian. And aside from the most recent official beneficiaries of our generosity, don't we have a pretty crappy track record of distributing arms to people in the Middle East? I mean, we did somehow manage to lose tons of money and hundreds of thousands of arms in Iraq, a country allegedly crawling with terrorists, didn't we? If we seriously worried about people from these countries attacking us, should we be giving them the money and equipment to attack us with more efficiently?
So, that's about it about the random stuff. Yay! I'm back.


Did you ever get in trouble as a child? And did you mother ever take away your favorite toy/book/diversion for what seemed like an eternity? Do you remember the joy of getting your toy/book/diversion back and promising to never let it go? Yeah, that's how I feel right now.

I have had people in my home on and off since early July, constantly since mid-July. Which means I have had barely any access to my home computer (which resides in the office/guestroom/library/giant closet) since all this mayhem started.

During this time, I have been either entertaining, cooking, cleaning or working. On a couple of occasions I was doing all of the above at the a time. Normally, I love entertaining and cooking--I always loathe cleaning. But I have learned that love is neither unconditional nor unlimited. If I have to clean after the cooking and entertaining, before I go to work each day, I eventually become irate. If I have to defend my lifestyle, friends, or family while cooking, cleaning and working, I become a resentful little woman whose hospitality will come to a screeching halt. Un/Fortunately, I have not reached a point where I have had to recommend a hotel to my guests, but that boiling point is very close right now and I may resort to such recommendations, rather than my passive-aggressive charms soon.

But right now, I'm just happy to be able to sit at my computer and write on my blog.