Friday, February 22, 2008

But My Absolute Favorite: So Far

Call it beginners luck, if you must, but I really love this picture! The light, the reflection, the image! Sigh.

Starting on the (left) side of the bed: A Day in the Life....

Modern Impressions of Light: A Study

So it hardly compares Monet's study of light - "Grainstack(s)" - but I woke up early one morning about 2 weeks ago (let's not get hasty with the trend spotting, but I am getting ready for the Fast) and caught this sunrise from my bedroom window. I'm still learning how to use my camera - to which end I begin a photo class on Tuesday - but I'm really happy with the pictures here: the screen, the way the light reflects on my little view, and in the third - the way that the light is so wonderfully framed by the iron "embellishments" on my window. Middle-Eastern detailing for a Middle-Eastern sunrise....

Not Exaclty Different: Not Exactly the Same

Starbucks isn't on any corner, "Target?" is met with a blank stare - but Israel has imported another favorite of mine: IKEA. My friends (Anahita, Rashel, Leili, Behi, Joanna - pictured) and I took a field trip to IKEA in September. The title of this blog post says it all: all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Guerilla Hair Care: MacGyver Couldn't Have Freaked It Better

So for those of you in the know... I've recently cut my hair and come back into the blonde spectrum of color. I basically have a blonde version of Katie Holmes' hair cut - or, for those of you really in the know, a graduated bob. But whatever.
As is true with all hair cuts (no matter how great they are, or how many compliments you receive - yes it is, and you better believe it(!), respectively), I haven't been able to reproduce what magic Roi created in the salon. Mostly because I don't have the "khoseleh" (Persian word for endless amounts of patience) for it, and the fact that I still don't know how to use a hair dryer. Sigh, I know - blame it on my childhood as a tomboy, but it's true.
Anyhow, I decided that today would be different. So borrowed my friend Nasim's curling iron and I woke up at 6:30 (gasp! It's true) to curl my hair - cute style. Noting that Nasim's curling iron is from the States, I plugged it into an adapter and began curling away. Several minutes later I realize that the iron isn't as hot as it once was - apparently adapters and converters are different.... But I couldn't just stop!
Thankfully my mom made me read Little Women when I was 8, and I know how they used to do "back in the day". So here I am at 7:30 in the morning, heating a curling iron against my clothes iron - section by section, piece by piece.
...but I look good, though.
And don't worry, my new photo teacher assures me that that can be reinacted for posterity's sake.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Something New: A Recommendation

From the Bahá’í Writings:

"O thou daughter of the Kingdom!
Know thou that prayer and supplication are the water of life, through them one's being is quickened and one's soul refreshed and gladdened. Do thou persevere therein as far as thou art able, and recommend to others likewise to engage in prayer and supplication."

- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Something Old: A Dream

My souls touch and flex guiding the muscles of my legs to ease the cares of my lonely days. While my palms unite and I imitate the mantis, my now exhausted self looses the anchors of my mind. Flex and stretch and hum and purr - with each movement and syllable I am transported closer to a world where nothing makes sense, but where everything is perfect.

Here I am in a calm, deep, and ancient forest. Coniferous tree piercing the crisp blue, now thunderously grey sky. In all of this you appear. A flash of many colored wings. Silently your powerful wings propel you through the forest. Silently you catch my eye and I begin to run, my only thought to keep pace. For now I know your secret, as it is my own. Towards you, each step closer I take, a fresh bit of potential I realize. To greater heights I am lifted, each beat your wings do make.

With my dreams for example, I know what I must do. To catch the bird that is my soul, I must turn my thoughts from free to God's.

My New Hobbies

So I've decided to make cooking my hobby since I've come to Israel - feel free to leave recipes for me to try! Yes, I know... But I decided that I could always go back to eating a bowl of soup or cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if I failed, but if I succeeded - well then I'd have something really tasty and healthy to eat!
Some things to consider when cooking is your hobby (especially if you're an expat):
  1. No matter where you are, cooking for one person sucks.
  3. Gas top stoves yield much different results than electric top stoves. I'm learning, though.
  4. Recipes gleaned from gourmet cooking websites? Double all of your prep-time and add 20 minutes to your cook-time.
  5. I'm not very good at desserts. This is actually a good thing.

And now for my new (as yet unexercised) hobby: photography! I will finally learn how my camera works and then you all can see what I'm really about.... But more on that later.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Coming and Going

This picture was taken at my house - at a party I hosted for my friend Elliott in honor of his wonderful service here at the Baha'i World Centre. In this picture are Scott, myself, Mona, and Mahyar - all from the July 2007 orientation.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unlike Other Things... Two Days Early

Some basic facts:
I wrote this story a little over a year ago.
I'm very proud of my first effort - but not so proud that I'm okay with you hating it. So don't say if you do.
If it looks familiar, that's because I've based it on the story of Leili and Majnun.
The italics are on purpose.

...and now for the story:

A Newly Translated Piece. Love.

Breath. Love.
Sleep. Love.
Wake. Love.
Speak. Laugh. Enjoy. Love.
Balance. Love.
Think. Love.
Listen. Love.
Stand. Walk. Skip. Love.
Beauty. Love.
Sigh. Love.
Pray. Love.
Be. Joined and Knit Together. Love.

Breath. Love. His breath comes in ragged gasps now as they chase him through the streets. His feet pound the hard unforgiving pavement with the syncopated rhythm common to those who are hunted, those who must anticipate the actions and reactions of others. He smelled her once. Would know her scent anywhere. Night-blooming jasmine in her hair and the sweet fragrance of orange on her lips and fingers.

Sleep. Love. Had he ever known life before her? He imagines what it must be like, to watch her sleep. How the moon would rejoice in its fullness to see her thus; how the nightingales of paradise would compose their sweetest melodies in her honor. Mirroring his despair, the moon is darkly absent tonight as the guards force him, in their relentless pursuit; farther from the spot he first knew true happiness.

Wake. Love. It was as though she walked out of a dream. He remembers the smell of jasmine first, how it seemed to manifest the delicate confidence and composure in her being. She sat at the corner table, peeling an orange; but she could have held the sun. It is the sun in her smile he dreams of now as he races through the sinewy alleys of town. The guards shout like baying wolves who smell the end of their prey’s endurance.

Speak. Laugh. Enjoy. Love. A humble student, he passed the same corner café every day for two years on his way to university. He had a funny habit of reading as he walked that secretly delighted her. She had never seen anyone like him before. Her father was the Dean of Education and had taken a post in this small exotic town with its narrowly twisted streets and alleys when her mother died. Her only link with her mother was the books she left behind and a few precious cuttings of night-blooming jasmine. He rounded the corner with his book in hand, furrowed brow indicating the birth of genius, lips moving with half-formed thoughts discarded or transcended as the need arose. Breathing deeply, he looked up from his studies.

Balance. Love. His life, then as now, seemed to hang in the balance. An eternity screams by in seconds, but then it was only the sirens, or it was the rush of blood to his head. The muscles in his legs, the air in his lungs, his dreams are all stretched tight as he nimbly navigates the maze of streets. Thoughts of her sweet smile and dream-like gaze float through his consciousness and seem to propel him forward. He has left behind the twisted streets near the university for the mansion crowned hills circling the city.

Think. Love. It must be a case of mistaken identity. He had never been in trouble this way before; in fact, he spent most of his time engrossed in his studies. He had been reading a newly translated piece written in the mystical Sufi tradition when he saw her. Her smile lit her whole face, and while her eyes shone brightly like the dawning of a new day, there yet remained a full spectrum of emotion. Dawn breaks as he approaches the spired heights of the new city. Ever mindful of the damning shadow he casts in the new day sun, he leaves the main road seeking refuge in tree-lined boulevards.

Listen. Love. Visibility is low in early dawn light. His pupils are almost fully dilated to catch the cues necessary for escape. His ears, ignoring the fierce pounding of his heart, are tuned to the subtle nuances of his would be captors. He heard her laugh, but almost missed it in the beginning. It was joyful and quite simultaneous with his first vision of her. He was sure that he had something to do with it, but she never made him feel isolated or alien; it was rather the kind of laugh one dreams of coming home to.

Stand. Walk. Skip. Love. She laughed in that moment. He so reminded her of her father – and reading the work he had so lovingly translated for her mother. Those poems were her mothers’ favorite, for her they represented all that was good and pure in the world. Her mother would read them aloud as she skipped around the garden, or gathered oranges for their mid-morning snack. The language was so beautiful, wonderfully describing a seeker’s journey through seven valleys; that was why she loved the new house she and her father lived in. For although they were in the newer part of town on the hill and therefore more removed from city life, she had a fantastic view of the valley below which she could enter at any time and seek the lessons of life.

Beauty. Love. She was beautiful to say the least, it was the way her eyes projected the depths of her soul. Like he could drown in one glance and having done that be reborn in the purity of her essence. If he ever escapes this waking nightmare he thinks he could do that forever, drown and be reborn in her eyes. He has turned north, south, and east again so many times he pauses, sure he has lost or at least confused the guards. There. That sound. Quickly he slips between two buildings so as to escape detection.

Sigh. Love. It was just a bird settling on the branches of orange tree heavy with fruit. The pause lasts as long as a sigh of longing, a passing wish or dream of freedom, of love. Her countenance was such that he had to close his eyes for a moment to regain his composure. Thoughts of her take his breath away; leave his thoughts scrambling for cohesion and structure. He takes flight moments after the bird. Sigh. Peace seems just a dream now. His refuge has become a dead end.

Pray. Love. He looks around, frantically. The guards are just behind him now; he can hear their gasps for air and just make out their static motions as they creep ever closer through the alley. With thoughts of her seared in his mind and the scent of oranges and jasmine clouding his senses he prays for deliverance as he scales the wall before him and lands in a garden. Paradise.

Be. Joined and Knit Together. Love. She looks up from her studies as a bird takes flight from one of the orange trees she loves so much. There. That sound. Quickly she slips under the cover of the tree and watches, amazed, as her true love leaps down from her wall. Eyes first wide in fear, then amazement, then wonder. It was as though he walked out of a dream.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ready For Warm Weather Again...

Donesh, Aimee, Leili - returning to the office after John Amir Abassi's birthday lunch. I'm not positive, but Donesh could be doing his utmost to abuse me of my anti-sushi/will-they-never-think-of-poor-Prometheus defense...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Go Tell It On The Mountain

The Shrine of the Bab

Because I Talk About It So Much...

If you haven't guessed, I am living in Haifa, Israel. I could exhaust myself and never describe this place, or what it is that the Baha'is are doing, as eloquently as the following passage from Isaiah does:

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. [...] and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

One Fine Saturday...

Aimee and Leili at Bahji.
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