Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Only Stupid People Are Breeding

Below is an excerpt from a recent conversation:

'Hi GWCH! Look what I brought you!'

'Oh, what a pretty wedding invitation. Who is it for?'

'A Pakistanian guy. Do you know him?'

'I don't know. I have a few Pakistani friends, but don't think I know this groom.'

'Can you read the invitation?'

'No, I can't read Urdu. I know Farsi and a little bit of Arabic.'

'That's too bad that your parents didn't teach you Pakistanian.'

(Confused look on my face.)

'It's just that I thought you'd be proud of your Pakistanian heritage and all. You know, because you were talking about stuff that is going on over there for the last couple of weeks.'

(Trying to bite my tongue and not call her an idiot): 'Oh, no. I'm from Iran. I'm Iranian--some people say Persian. It's the same thing. We speak Farsi (also known as Persian). Pakistanis speak Urdu which has a similar alphabet and some shared words, but they're actually different languages.'

'Oh. So, you're not Pakistanian?'

(Me calmly nodding no, trying not to scream that there is no such thing as Pakistanian.)

'Huh. Maybe that's why I was confused and thought you were Indian. Do you know Indian?'

And that is the story of why I have welts in my mouth. And why I'm considering quitting my job and becoming a History and Geography teacher. God knows I can't make the kids any dumber.

Oh--and this lady has four kids, the first two of which she home schooled for a few years.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zombie Warrior In Training

I have been avoiding writing this post for almost 12 weeks.

That was when I agreed to jo
in Team In Training again to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Most of you remember the story of how I joined TNT last year, going from a well-rounded couch potato to a half marathon runner. The moment I walked into my hotel room before the Nike Women's Marathon, I called her and promised I would do it again next year, if she promised to come to San Francisco. She promised she would and we had a date. Her promise carried me up the hills and through the streets that day. Crossing the finish line was one of the happiest moments in my life--blown out knee, aching ankle, blisters and all. The only thing that clouded the euphoria was knowing that Manda didn't make it to San Francisco because her treatments weren't working. When I posted pictures of the event, she saw what I had written on my arm (Zombie Warrior) and wrote two words that brought tears, "My Hero!" She was gracious like that.

I haven't written about her since she passed, even though I think of her almost daily. I thought of her as I agreed to join as a mentor, knowing that my original motivation for running was gone; and I think of her every Saturday morning as I try to motivate my team members with a heavy heart.

This year, I know my fund raising can't help her any more, nor can my misadventures make her laugh (or wonder who the heck I am). I'm getting ready for a date that I know will break my heart. That's why everything I am doing (my running, my fund raising, my planning) is behind. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh attempt to write this in April, I had to stop.

A friend and I were talking about this and he made me think of why I'm running again. Amanda inspired me, but now I've met so many others who went through what she did. This week, I learned that one of my mentees will miss the next few weeks of training because he is scheduled for chemo. I have friends who were recently diagnosed with various blood cancers (two in the last year) and those who fight chronic forms of it; I have learned of friends who have overcome their battles and are living healthy lives. When I think about it, I realize my participation and fund raising were inspired by Amanda, but now includes many more friends who I'd like to think are benefiting from my feeble efforts.

And with this, my fund raising officially begins. I know a lot has changed since last year and donations might be smaller. I'll shamelessly accept donations big and small with gratitude. I am looking for sponsors, so if you know of any businesses that want their name raced through the streets of San Francisco, I can provide you with more details. I would also appreciate it if you could each pass on my fund raising site to at least 5 of your most generous friends.

Where is the link for you to donate? Right here!

I'll continue to post stories, updates and possibly pictures. Once my training jersey is personalized I'll start modeling it. Until then, I appreciate your support in any form and amount.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Country In Flames

As I write this, I'm watching HBO's Letters to the President. We have been glued to our computers and the TV for the past couple of days, following the aftermath of the elections in Iran. Chances are, if you have been watching the news or cable channels, you don't know what's going on. CNN had an interview with motorcycle repairmen yesterday. MSNBC had something about Ted Kazinski.

The Revolution is not being broadcast.

Chances are you don't know much about my country. I don't blame you. You don't know about my people's generosity or their frustrations, you don't know of their dashed hopes and dreams. You don't know what is like to have lost your family to war; to have gathered in a house with your extended family praying that you survive the nightly bombings. You don't know what it is like to bury your sons who fought for the survival of a government they didn't believe in. You don't know what it is like to be seen as ignorant and repressed; international pariahs.

What you probably know is the caricature of a president that is made even more ridiculous in translations. You don't know that he was elected last time because the majority of the electorate boycotted the elections to make a point to the Reformers. You don't know that the he was elected by people who can barely see past their own day to day survival and are willing to vote for anyone who promises to build a road to their villiage, or give them a loan to buy a home. That is not to say those who voted for him were ignorant or stupid. It is to say they are just like us, responding to their basic needs as a people.

Two days ago, elections were held and something did not go according to plans. I tried to block out thoughts of the elections, I did not vote. I no longer live there and don't feel I am entitled a voice in a system that doesn't impact me directly. I was wrong. That system impacts my family who mostly live there, my friends and their families, my people and my culture. I was wrong to not vote, even if my vote would be lost and the loser would be hailed as the president. I was wrong not to vote, even if I didn't have much faith in any of the candidates because there was a lesser evil and even a window of hope. I was wrong to think that the rallies of people in green were just an excuse to get out and mingle. I was wrong to be so cynical about something that hurts my people.

If you look, you can see what is happening in the aftermath of those elections. There are cries of protest, there is violence and there is bloodshed. Those are my people. The pictures you see are of my sisters and brothers, my cousins and friends using the songs and calls of the last revolution against the government. Those cries of Allah-o-Akbar coming from the rooftop are the same cries that brought down the Shah 30 years ago. The cries of 'Azadi, Azadi' (Freedom, Freedom) are being used by a younger generation and thrown back in the faces of the people who are repeating the mistakes of the past. If Khamenei and his ilk have any memory of the past, they should be more than a little worried.

I am sad that they are suffering, I worry about the people I love. But I am proud that they did not accept this in silence. I am proud that they are braver than I ever could be. I am proud and hopeful.