Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tales from the Blog

Since we have an idea how my Birthday Twin celebrated Boo Rooz, I thought I'd share stories from my exciting day.

Um, now that I think about it, it wasn't really exciting. Unless you consider working on client contracts and preparing reports until midnight exciting. No? Me neither. But I have a plan that I'm ten shades of excited about. While I failed to implement my brilliant plan on my birthday, my project did get started the weekend of my birthday (and that's close enough).

I have started a new blog, called Blog Me A Tale. There will be a monthly theme (this is Open Mic March) and you can write a story on that theme--however you interpret it. There is a larger project going on in the background, but for now I'm hoping people will participate and tell their stories. Let me know if you're interested in participating, and I'll send an invite and add you to the contributors. If you know of a blogger you'd like to see contribute, recommend them and I'll send an invite (and/or harass them until they write something to shut me up). The more the merrier. And if you don't want to write, comment. The comments will be an important part of the next steps of my plan.

Think of it as an extended, wordy birthday celebration.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Nurooz Cometh

(Our Haft Seen Table, moments after Nurooz on March 19, 2008)

Above is my very hurried Haft Seen (Seven 'S's) Table. It is my favorite part of Nurooz. It is also usually well planned, considering one needs to allow beans/grains to sprout at least 10 days before the New Year. This requires one to keep track of time, monitor sprouts and have a couple of backups. I did none of these things this year, mostly because I realized Nurooz was approaching about three days before it arrived.

Allow me to rewind a little: I worked from home half of Wednesday, got my hair colored during my 'lunch' hour ran to the Persian store and purchased most of the necessary items for my Haft Seen Table. This is akin to trying to buy a Christmas tree and ornaments around 4pm on Christmas Eve. Which is why my sprouts and hyacinths are the Persian cousins of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. And why I am missing three of my seven items. And why the apple is too big for the tiny bowls I usually use to decorate my table. My only joy in all of this? My perfect little gold fish. Especially since this is the first time M has allowed me to have gold fish in the last four years.

(Sidenote: He hates it when the fish die as soon as they get home--which is really sad--and as such wouldn't let me buy fish that would symbolize the brevity of life instead of longevity/fertility).

This year, partially due to work and partially due to M's work(I'm his little helper sometimes), I have been distracted. On the Wednesday of Nurooz, I came home after my frantic beauty/shopping excursion--with its many, many stops--and tried to do my Spring Cleaning (which in real Iranian homes is a month-long process almost regardless of the size or the average cleanliness of the house) in less than three hours. During that time, I also wanted to cook the traditional Nurooz dinner of herbed rice and fish, set the Nurooz table and respond to co-workers who suddenly remembered a laundry list of questions they needed answers to immediately. Needless to say, I barely finished a very superficial cleaning, spent almost two hours solving co-worker problems and was frantically assembling my table when the year changed.

Per our beliefs, the rest of the year follows the tone of what you were doing at the time of the year changing over. Which means, my year will be frantic. Hmm.

Finally, things started settling down--by which I mean so much time passed that I stopped feeling guilty for not sending Nurooz cards and making the traditional dinner three nights too late--and we decided to take a break from our working weekend to go to the beach. Just before we left, I changed the fish's water and fed them.

Now they're swimming in the big bowl in the sky. And my Haft Seen table is even sadder than it was this morning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Culturally Alien

I am a girl.

Well, actually, I'm a woman sadly inching towards middle age. I would like to think that I'm culturally aware and know a few things about pop culture, even if I don't appreciate them. However, there are a few things I distinctly dislike. Ok, so I hate them. Sex and the City is one of those 'cultural' phenomena. It goes beyond not understanding it, because I do understand it. The problem is I hate how condescending, superficial and one-dimensional it is in its portrayal of women. Considering how I passionately I feel about the topic, I figured I couldn't be alone. I was pretty sure at least some of my friends agreed with me completely. I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, I pretty much missed the whole SatC boat when it first sailed by. I would hear all the women at work go on about it every week, talking about one character or another, insisting they are exactly alike and how their last date was exactly like blah blah blah...I figured, I couldn't understand what I didn't watch. Plus, I was a little turned off by a show whose feminism was expressed through sex, shoes and shopping. How is that feminism?

So a couple of weeks ago, when our friends were over, M was teasing me about always having the TV on, and watching everything--including SatC. I corrected him loudly--to which my friends expressed shock--SHOCK--that I was saying I didn't like it. How could I not love SatC? What transpired over the next 30-40 minutes was a discussion of how all of the women in our circle of friends loved the show, who was closest to which character and who had experienced the same thing as...

As I sat there wondering about what I was missing, I knew there was at least one friend who would chuckle and agree with me completely. She is a grounded, funny and intelligent woman whom I have always admired. I'm pretty sure she nods and smiles at my taste in music/art/movies/shows because I can be a little fluffy for her taste. So I sent her an email, beseeching her to save me from this loneliness in a SatC loving world. She (I swear laughed) responded that she actually kind of likes the show.

Here's my problem: The women on this show were so detached from reality, they made women look bad. I mean really, really bad. If a man had written that show, he would be (rightfully) branded a chauvinist pig. Most of the women in my group of friends (regardless of cultural background) have family obligations, real jobs and finite incomes. Our friendships extend beyond watching each other jump from one guy to another, our intellect generally reaches beyond random observations and our gay friends are not bitchier than we are. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt, we're all deeper than your typical cereal bowl. So why does everyone love this show so much? What am I missing?

Oh, and apparently there is a movie related to the show coming out soon. I'll continue to be a social outcast. Great.

Nu Rooz Is Coming

I can see how those of you who have read my reaction to Christmas and Valentine's Day may think I hate holidays. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love holidays. I just don't like the crazy commercial/Hallmark aspect of the holidays.

But now, there is a holiday looming that I love, despite myself: Nu Rooz, or the Persian New Year. It coincides with the first day of Spring and we celebrate for 13 days. We specifically celebrate the outgoing year (the last Wednesday of the old year), the first day of the New Year and the thirteenth day of the New Year with a picnic. In Iran, it is the most beautiful time of the year. Everything is coming back to life, the city smells young and fresh and every home is sparkling from the monthly spring cleaning efforts of every woman in the country (with much help from the small armies they call up just for the season). People of every economic and religious background celebrate by visiting each other, traveling and of course cooking and eating. We prepare traditional dishes, wear new clothes and spend days gleefully celebrating family, friends and life. And there are occasional gift exchanges, usually crisp new bills from grandparents that most kids would hide in their rooms.

In my family growing up, this time has unfortunately been spent stressing about everything being picture perfect. So much so that the 'celebration' kind of falls to the wayside. Despite this, I remain optimistic and still love the concept.

This year, I have not started my spring cleaning. I have not prepared my traditional sprouts, nor have I purchased my hyacinths yet. I'm running a bit behind. But I'm still excited.

Yay, Spring!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last Night, I Met the Girl From My Dreams

Last night, we went to the long awaited Foo Fighters concert. God Bless M for humoring me and going to a concert he had no interest in and getting there a full two hours early (we feared bad traffic). For me, he sat through two different bands he had no interest whatsoever in and was gradually won over by the FF--possibly because he was too amused by my antics to be indifferent.

And his presence by my side is why I didn't run toward a tall, leggy young woman in cut-off denim shorts and strike up a random conversation--despite the fact that I had (sort of) dreamed of her less than two weeks ago.

A little while ago, I dreamed I had met two very colorful young ladies as I sat in a tattoo parlor. So distracted was I by the fact that I was meeting them that I ended up with a tattoo up the length of my left leg. It was a beautifully elaborate design with birds intertwined throughout. My first panicked thought in my dream was that it would be impossible to hide a tattoo that started on the top of my foot and ran up to my thigh. My second and third thoughts were that it was stunning and that Boo and Alex were nodding in approval. So vivid was my dream that I woke up inspecting my leg in the early morning light for the faintest sign of ink. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed at the plain, white skin covering my limbs, despite the fact that I know I'm not the kind of person to get tattoos.

A few nights later, I had a similarly related dream--where I had apparently embraced the tattoo and was trying to 'frame' it in the perfect outfit. The whole thought process seemed so logical and real, perhaps because I settled on a long, black skirt with a long slit on the left side(I actually own one of these)--because according to Dream Me, a mini-skirt would be obvious...

Which brings me back to the young lady I saw outside Cox Arena last night. Her left leg had a gorgeous, elaborate tattoo that started on the top of her foot and expanded all the way to where her shorts were cut off. The tattoo was a colorful and intricate floral pattern that must have taken painful hours to complete, with birds perched and flying from various branches and blossoms. Had I been by myself, I may very well have walked up to her and stared at our shared tattoo and maybe even tried to make my stare less embarrassing by explaining what I was doing (because that wouldn't be weird at all, right?). But I didn't. I curled up by M, trying to contain my excitement before the concert by telling M about Serj Tankian, System of a Down, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl.

Thank goodness for patient husbands and the drop of self-restraint that saves me from doing crazy, crazy things.