Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye...

If that phrase is copywritten somehow, please excuse me - but I'm talking about a different transformation, altogether.
You are all probably much more detached and spiritually grounded than I am - but it happens to me sometimes that I don't feel that my service or my work or my self is appreciated. {I get that it is, but sometimes it's easy to feel out of touch with this appreciation.}
But today I had an amazing day! I don't know that I've ever felt so appreciated and valued for my work and service before. At the Bahá’í World Centre (as you may know), I serve in the Department of Pilgrimage. The pilgrim group which arrived yesterday includes 65 Bahá’ís from the Democratic Republic of Congo. These friends went through untold hardships to be able to attain pilgrimage - and today I heard them sing. They sang of their joy at the possibility to pray in the Holy Shrines - and their songs uplifted me emotionally and spiritually in way I can't describe. It's like I lived vicariously through them, or something.
I would like to thank these lovely people for reconnecting me with the joy of service. I have been transformed.
*Photo courtesy of UNICEF*

Life in the Fishbowl...

So my office is located in what is commonly referred to as the fishbowl. This is because one of the walls is made entirely of glass - and it's curved. One of my favorite stories involving former Universal House of Justice member Mr. Grossman is when he said that we had very pretty fishes in our fishbowl. {Insert blush here}
Well... thanks to My Constant Photographer (get it? okay, good), I now have concrete evidence! Ladies & gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce Ladies Night on the Town, also known as Fun With a Fisheye Lens: Volume II!

We so crazy!

Shar & I

Jamak & I
*Modern Interpretations of the Fish Face Classic*

The Fab 5
Kalila, Shar, Yo, Jamak, Kadria

We 3 Queens of Israel

Jamak & I
*Location: Amazing Ratan Hammock Seat Thing*
ps. This excursion doubled as 2 birthday parties & a farewell - wishing Shar (and Rich) all the best in New Zealand!

Friday, October 24, 2008

One Coin: Two Sides

Full (okay, only partial) disclosure: I spent my formative years swimming, running, jumping, climbing, playing in the mud with trucks (and reading...). In fact, I didn't wear a "non event" dress until I was 20. Of course I've made up for that in exponential leaps and bounds (if such a thing is even possible) with my fairly recent and voracious appetite for fashion.
So I saw this picture yesterday & I had a moment of "real world envy". I realize that I'm in the real world - albeit a world sans Target, Chinatown, and pretty much everything I can think of to assist in the replication of this picture. Sigh. Different countries, different conveniences, different aesthetics....
But then (!) at work this morning - okay, so it was like 15 minutes ago - I saw a mongoose in the garden in front of my desk! And then there were more and more until there were 5 mongooses (5 mongeeses?) HA.HA.HA. That, my friends, was the signifier of the start to a fantastic day - a reminder of the little girl aimee piper: the one who would throw herself bodily on the ground and try to figure out what was before her. And I'm still that girl - except now I like to host dinner parties where we can all talk about what new and cool things we did that day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two For... Wednesday

I first came across this band on a really rad (and naturally now defunt) Indie radio station in Orange County.... This song was on my friends' wedding album - and they've just had their one year anniversary. Big shout out to Maryam & Brian Fortuna!

A Light at the End...

The road is long, let’s do it together *they seemed to say*

Sometimes I can't help but make up little stories when I see certain pictures. Maybe not a full 1000 words, but some pictures are so eloquent - like they have perfectly captured a moment or expression - all with a little back story that runs through my mind.
Sharing is caring?
Photo credit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Upon Closer Inspection...

So I've decided to participate in Blog Action Day 2008 - this year's theme is poverty. As per usual, I'm a little late to the game, which is code for "I learned about this opportunity yesterday...". Never the less, I am very happy and excited to participate in such an important endeavor. Thousands of blogs, across the globe, using their fields of expertise and personal voice to shed light on a topic that, quite frankly, has some of the pre-eminant thinkers and leaders of modernity stumped. Maybe not as to how we have created such a drastic divide between wealth and poverty - God knows that there has been enough finger-pointing in that regard - but stumped on how to elevate the station of the poor....
Well, you can imagine that if the eminant (pre or otherwise) are having a hard time putting their minds around something of this magnitude, that I was having a hard time doing the same - and all in 24 little hours. The conclusion I've come to is that I don't understand poverty. I know what it is to sacrifice and to do without - but, largely, these are choices that I make. I am afforded the liberty, because of my status as an educated woman from middle-class America, of deciding what it that I will sacrifice: time, comfort, money, etc. So what I mean by telling you that I don't understand poverty is that I don't understand what it is to have these decisions of sacrifice made by the reality of my circumstances.
I think, that if you've read my blog before (a hearty welcome if you haven't), that you will notice a trend: I find it insufficient - in terms of social responsibility, and in order to - quite frankly - stop wasting time - to simply find problems. What is needed are solutions, and this requires action. If you are not already familiar with its devastating, debilitating, and demoralizing effects, I won't ask you to familiarize yourselves with poverty - but I do ask that you consider, and carefully so, what I am about to share with you.
About 2 months ago I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Farzam Arbab, member of the Universal House of Justice, speak about his considerable experience in the field of Social and Economic Development. In the course of his presentation, Dr. Arbab asked that we - the participants - learn to tell the difference between information and propaganda and other forms of disinformation. Perhaps the single greatest thing that we can do as a people in this generation is to learn to be truly openminded and free thinkers. To investigate to the fullness of our ability the information, art, objects, products and ideas we encounter. Learn to be a wise consumer, not to the point of asceticism, but truly make a point to learn all that you can for yourself. In this way we will have informed and conscientious people of action coming to their own conclusions about how to aleviate poverty in their own unique circle of influence. We will start to realize that, like this initial global discourse on poverty, individual initiative is as necessary as collective cooperation.
I leave you with this final thought, which I fully urge you to consider freely and objectively, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh:

"Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed. "
- Bahá'u'lláh

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Semantics of a Thing...

Earlier in the week I got an email from my mom - she was worried that my recent posts seemed a little melancholy.... She wrote everything in bold pink to cheer me up (and did make me grin, considerably). But my recent posts were, for me, more contemplative - on the reality of life & my situation in it - than melancholy. The picture below pretty much sums up how I feel, right now. *I'll spare you the thousand words, and let you arrive at your own conclusions...*

More thoughts on the reality of my life right now, excerpted from an earlier conversation with my friend Nazy...
"I’m reduced to conversation constructs – and hoping, dreadfully so, that they’ll work……"
Thanks for putting up with the 'outloud' vent of my thoughts - 'preciate you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

So I realize that I sort of suck at keeping promises - or, more to the point, I sort of suck at taking/uploading pictures of places I go & tell you about & promise that you'll soon see all of the wonderful things I've seen....
I mean to be better at it, I'm just challenged. Of course, when I tell you that it is a regular occurence in my family to develop a single roll of film (most usually from a disposable camera - awww yeah! We practically invented lo mo!) and find pictures from Mother's Day, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving - all within 36 little pictures, it'll make more sense. **It's okay if you want to laugh, it's kind of funny.**
Thankfully I have fantastic friends who rock at taking pictures! Below is a shot of Kalila & I (and Kadria, too) in Tel Aviv.
Dad - yes, the bug in the shot is on purpose. And, to be fair, I should tell everyone that my dad's also a great photographer - the penchant for forgetting to bring the camera/take a picture/develop the film is totally matrilineally inherited....

Anyhow, it may take longer than anyone would like (ahem. I mean me), but I'm still learning, right? ...I wonder how long that excuse will work - maybe until Thanksgiving? {wink}

Sunday, October 12, 2008

...Are We There, Yet?

15 months ago I met these beautiful, bright, sunshiney-smiley-faced people for the first time. Meet my orientation group - well, 2/3 of us anyhow. Strange to think that more than 1/2 of us are now back in our respective corners of the world - going to school or working.
When we began our individual and collective service, we were strangers - and now I think we are family. Or if not family, then something very close and special. Certainly better than simply friends.
Indulge me why I think outloud, hmmm? I was reading my OED (don't hate, congratulate) and I came across the word conflagration (noun): a large and destructive fire; from the Latin. Well, directly below this is conflate (verb): combine into one. The origin here is also from the Latin, conflare 'kindle, fuse'. I believe that our service together, here in the Holy Land, has enlightened us, made us stronger, brighter and more ready for the world - and made us, if not quite family, more than friends.
Big shout out to the Bahá’í World Centre orientation group of July 2007 - where ever you are, whatever you're doing!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Sometimes my days (or my weeks) don't exactly go my way... I've found perspective in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, though. He says, speaking of His sufferings:

"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty.

"He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful.
"We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish."

The pictures above are of the Fortress City of ‘Akká, as seen from the Sea Gate; the Prison Cell in which Bahá'u'lláh was held in ‘Akká, Israel; and the terraced gardens at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. The later two are pictures I have taken.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Knock Knock... Who's There?

Reality, that's who. So friends and family - I'm about half way through my service here at the Bahá’í World Centre (I know - crazy, huh?!?). So yeah, that means that it's time to start thinking about my not-so-distant future.... Sigh.

Most of the time, when I think about the current state of world affairs I realize that it is simply the disintegration of an old world order - a disintegration that, though painful, is necessary in order for the birth of the New World Order: the Promised Day of God. I'm also mostly capable of thinking that it's better to have this disintegration now, so that instead paying forward the pain and calamity we're currently embroiled in, we truly can begin to lay the ground work for peace. Peace our children can grow and develop in.
But sometimes the really selfish part of me is like, "but DUDE! what am I going to do?!?" I'm trying to educate that selfish person....

ps. I found this picture here - pretty hilarious site, actually.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Digital Love...

1. Talking Heads - Psycho Killer /Kate Miller-Heidke, 2. Radiohead - In Rainbows 2, 3. Jef Aérosol 2007 - Morrissey
I'm not one for gratuitous advertisements - but my iPod was totally hooking it up this morning:

Burning Down the House - The Talking Heads
There There (The Boney King of Nowhere) - Radiohead
The Last of the Famous International Playboys - Morrissey

I have pretty random and unique tastes in music, so for me to get such a rad mix, all in a row, and not planned at all by yours truly completely put a smile on my face and a tap in my foot!
Planned or unplanned - what are you listening to?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Autumnal Updates...

I'm so happy that it's fall! I had to finally put a blanket on my bed last night - this, in conjunction with the lovely cool breeze that comes off the hillside in through my window, makes for super cozy nights this time of year!
It's no surprise that fall is my favorite season - I love the crisp air, the cute fashion, the rosy cheeks and laughing eyes that magically appear in late September/early October. But I have a confession to make. This will surely mark me as a true Californian, or at least a true Piper....
While I love shoes (!), slippers, socks, and even slipper-socks - I can't stand shoes and socks (socks and shoes?). It's like my little toes are saying "Um, hello? Oxygen? We need it. 'k Thanks!"
Sigh. Just saying.
Ps. Isn't this picture the cutest? It totally reminds me of Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.... Found here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fair Trade...

Sometimes I forget peoples names. Okay, I regularly do this - I think I hide it well, though. But I'll always remember your story. Like how many kids you have, something you said 5 years ago, etc. It's like I have a special place in my brain for trivial, random and useless information. ...that just happens to crowd out more important things - like your name.
Anyhow, my love of history definitely falls into the category of things I remember well. Well, I remember events - if not names {grin}. In the time I spent as a history major (and then anthropology, and then history/anthropology double major - only to settle, eventually, on English), I used to day dream about what it would be like to go back in time. LIke to literally wake up one morning in, say, the 18th Century.
I realized, pretty quickly in fact, that I would probably die. Aside from the obvious benefits of modern medicine... I realized that I lack the skill set necessary for survival then. I can't farm, I can't hunt - in fact, I like to pretend that when I eat meat (which I rarely do) that it never even belonged to an animal.... I can fish - but I don't like to catch anything. Yeah, I'd pretty much be a goner.
So then I got to thinking, and I realized that my single greatest commodity is time. Pure and simple. To know in your bones what your time is worth is a heady thing. Here's the real trip, though. How is it that the things on this earth that are most time consuming are often seen as having the least value? If we respect our own time, and others time, then we respect what ever it is we're doing with our time - whether raising a family, harvesting a crop, teaching a student, singing a song, etc. - and we are less wasteful with the product of our time, collectively and individually. But wait - it gets better! ...then we have less waste, and more harmony, and peace and love and unity. All from respect.
Maybe I should just say no to late night tea and coffee - or maybe I'm on to something... thoughts?
Image credit.
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