Try to summarize

I start writing, literally have paragraphs typed out and a subject line and something twists inside me and I stop. I keep trying to explain my life here, how much I love it, but I have the same words I did before, and a thesaurus does no good.

A weekend:
Friday is work-beachTransformers.
Start Saturday with a trip to Bahji, delight in an engagement (congrats!), wander Akka with girlfriends, go to a dinner party where I laugh so hard it hurts.

I watched the Shrine of the Báb from a rooftop as the sun went down and we said prayers for someone who had left this world for the next one. I watched the perfect color of Persian tea reflect torchlight, and I began to understand that these are the times that things matter. I sat in a café and thought about everything and nothing.

This is my life, after 7 months.

Continue Reading

7 Random Facts about Me

Mojan tagged me, and while I usually don’t do memes on my blog, I thought it would be nice to give some of you a little glimpse of some of my quirks.

1.  One of my biggest pet peeves is the confusion between “they’re” and “their”, “you’re” and “your”, etc. 

2.  I have had three different accents in my life: Persian, Southern United States, and generic Midwestern/Chicago (current).  I also start talking like people around me if they have a different accent.  Can’t help it.

3.  I really don’t mind getting up in front of a group of people to speak, but I like to be somewhat prepared.

4.  One of the joints on my right ring finger is bigger than the one on my left, simply from basketball injuries.   I am left handed…sometimes I missed when trying to get the ball.

5.  If people are fighting, my first instinct is to jump between them and break up the fight.  However, I also realize that my diminutive size prevents me from being very effective.

6.  Animals I like a lot: snails, toads, snakes, lizards, rodents, dogs, and sometimes rabbits.

7.  I have awful handwriting.  Really, it is just horrible.  I have tried for a long time to improve it to no avail.

Continue Reading

Another in a series

I am here, I think. I am sitting in this chair and the sun followed me inside today.

There are a few things I must share…

bare feet on silk carpets and cold stone, one after another

jazz music on a lazy summer afternoon

babies holding each others hands

funny quotes out of context

walking at night under trees heavy with flowers

smiles across tables covered with food and coffee

a café at 3 am

(“I Like…”, “I Like #2”)

Continue Reading

Misplaced Nostalgia

I saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie last night. I really only enjoyed it for nostalgia’s sake, quite frankly. It was not as good as I’d hoped based on the trailer.

I now realize how disconnected I truly am from popular American culture….mostly the entertainment side of things. On one hand, it is easy to access a lot of these things (I even saw Spiderman 3 on opening weekend). But while Israel has all of these things, the culture at the Baha’i World Centre just isn’t focused on those things. Sure, we go to movies, and the mall, and are on the internet (probably too much!). But if you don’t seek it out there is no reason why you would know what is going on.

The first few months I still had my “fingers on the pulse”, but as I spend more time here I become more content with a life less consumed with these things. One thing I found lacking was my access to news/science/business. Back home I would read BusinessWeek, Forbes, National Geographic, Discover, and a few other random magazines…and then suddenly I wasn’t anymore.

I recently discovered the news feeds on my blog aggregator, so I have a feeling I’ll be getting back into my geekiness soon enough.

Continue Reading

The power of speech

Last night we were studying the Kitab-i-Ahd, and this particularly struck me, because recently I’ve been feeling the need for more wisdom in my utterance and my thoughts…been a bit tangled and thorny recently…


Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk. God hath forgiven what is past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men.
-Baha’u’llah“Unseemly talk”, in my opinion, isn’t just using bad language or saying cruel things…it is also idle chatter or unwise speech. Moderation in all things, of course, since we can’t always talk about philosophy and deep subjects (well, I can’t, I need to be silly once in a while). It seems like a lot of my friends and acquaintances have been thinking about the power of language and speech recently. (See Abi’s excellent post here.)

Continue Reading

Aware of the world

Today I am finally back at work. I can’t express in words how happy this makes me. Truly. It has been an eventful day, since I’m branching out in terms of the service I’m doing (I’m working for 2 different offices for a little while, as well as helping plan an event). There is so much work to do, and I’m glad to be able to contribute in any small way I can.

I had come to the realization while I was sick that I needed to take a more active role in how I was serving, to do more diverse things. Not that I was unhappy in my job, quite the contrary. There was just a feeling that I needed to shuffle things about until I got it right. Today has been a confirmation of that.

Continue Reading

I’m not surprised

“Wait, Anna Nicole died?!” – At lunch yesterday.

Now, in the grand scheme of life, this little tidbit of information can’t really even be considered news. In fact, it makes me rather sad that this is considered newsworthy back in the States. The point is that here in Haifa, if you do not make an active effort to seek out the news in the world, it might just pass you by. It can be a little insulating. Things that we would have not been able to avoid in the States completely pass us by even after 2 weeks.

I try to make an effort to check out a couple different news sources every day just to keep up…but it can be difficult to weed through the silly stuff.


(This makes me happy…I see these flowers on the way to work every day.)

Continue Reading

Tangents

When there are no tangential people surrounding me, I lose my grip on the strange and random. Those conversations are close to my heart. I miss the artists and dreamers and odd little occurences sometimes.

We would take in the peculiar and wonderful moments/words/phrases, spin them around in our minds, and throw them back out in the world as part of a fast-paced dance of story-telling and fanciful wishes.

Continue Reading

Little did I know…

I thought I was prepared. I had the box of cereal ready, and I remembered that I had strawberries in the fridge. I casually open the fridge to get the milk…

horrors! NO MILK!

So instead I feasted on some hummus and cheese with chips. For breakfast. haha.

——————————–
Interesting topic at lunch today: What motivates people in the workplace? Some would say money, but of course we know that it is so much more than that. And then you take a unique place like the Baha’i World Centre (where I am serving), where people come to serve, not to climb the corporate ladder or start a company.How do we motivate the people around us in the workplace? People usually think of motivation in a “top-down” approach: that is, the upper levels of an organization use incentives of some kind to coax employees to work at a certain level. But what happens when employees take an active role in managing the people they report to? When they explain to their managers how they work best? When working on a team, do we take the time to figure out each other’s styles of project management or personal interaction?
——————————–
I am now halfway through The Tipping Point, started Reading Lolita in Tehran, and about 1/3 of the way through Muhammad and the Course of Islam. I am having so much fun reading these books. I think I will want to read the last one a second time, since I feel like I’m getting the story, but not enough to explain to people.

Continue Reading

Another list of books

I was feeling rather scattered about the books I’ve been reading while I’ve been in Haifa, and wanted it all in one place. I feel like it is easier to read here…I don’t have the distraction of tv & internet at home, especially. I was shocked to realize that I’d read 80 pages last night over the course of a few hours.

Any suggestions for my next book? I’m trying to think ahead…I’m getting a copy of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (thanks Leila!), but I need a Baha’i book to read at the same time.

Currently reading:


Barron Harper: Lights of Fortitude (First Edition)
Read in the last 1-1/2 months:

Ugo Giachery: Shoghi Effendi: Recollections

Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By

David Ruhe: Door of Hope

Larry Niven: N-Space, Destiny’s Road

Marion Zimmer Bradley: The Fall of Atlantis

Philippa Gregory: The Other Boleyn Girl

Continue Reading

Two Things

1. Does anyone has an old Verizon phone that they don’t want? I might not be able to get a replacement.

2. There is STILL a room open in my house, and if you have a friend that is looking for a place, please let me know.

Also, don’t forget about the Halloween Party this Friday night! Last party that I’m throwing before I leave for Haifa!!

Continue Reading

Sick of being sick.

Apparently a pigeon was trapped on our sales floor for 2 hours yesterday. I missed the excitement because I was home sick. Most Chicagoans have a hate-hate relationship with pigeons…they’re always getting in the way and making a mess. I’m amused by them, they are inherently silly-looking animals.

I have been sick for more than a week, and staying home yesterday was a great idea. When I was at my parent’s house on Sunday they took care of me so well (thanks Mom & Dad!!). There is just something about being home, I didn’t want to leave.

I woke up this morning and headed downstairs to the kitchen. My roommates had left me honey, lemon juice, and packets of tea on the counter with a note: “For Sholeh”. Lauren brought me tea yesterday morning, Maysoon brought me tea at 1 am, Chineze offered to get me medication, and Amber keeps asking if there is anything she can do for me. So sweet!

Continue Reading

So quiet here.

The sky and the slate roofs of the warehouses are almost the same shade of grey, blending into each other today. A good weekend of family, friends, the Baha’i House of Worship (always home to me, no matter what and how much time passes).

Phone call from friend currently traveling across the United States by car: “Sholeh, can my friend stay with you? She is stranded in Chicago for a night and needs somewhere to sleep. We were hanging out in Ohio, but she is from Portland.” Ok! It is always fun to have random people around.

I am no longer surprised that the vastness of our world is continually reduced. Everyone is connected somehow, you just have to unravel the threads.

Do any fellow Chicagoans remember the Great Flood of 1992? I remember watching footage of people in scuba gear and hard hats looking very grim. I went on a boat tour of the river & lake in the Loop on Saturday…the history of places is interesting and necessary to understand. I look forward to travels to places where the layers of cities and villages seem endless, buried under dirt and time.

Continue Reading

woohoo!

Happy Birthday to me! What a wonderful birthday…I ate so much chocolate I can’t even move. mmm.

Thank you to everyone who called, left messages, texted, and sent smoke signals. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends.

September seems to be a time of change for me, and this year is no exception. So blessed!

“True reliance is for the servant to pursue his profession and calling in this world, to hold fast unto the Lord, to seek naught but His grace, inasmuch as in His Hands is the destiny of all His servants.”
~Bah’u’llh

Continue Reading

For love of steel…or something.

“O people of Bah! The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.”

-Bahullh

How often do we think of these verses when creating art, or even just working in our jobs?

Speaking of jobs, I dodge flatbed trucks every day on my way in to the office. I’ve gotten pretty good at listening to distinguish when they’re accelerating or heading in my direction. The truckers try to watch out for pedestrians, but it can be difficult to stop a truck with a couple thousand pounds of steel on it.

The doors of the plant are open during the summer and as I walk by each morning and afternoon, the acrid smell of steel (especially in the processing centers where it is burned). 250 pounds of steel is, to me, a paltry number, not even worth mentioning. When did this happen?

I accidently recorded a conversation the other day and I was shocked to hear how much I sound like my sisters. I think every sales rep should hear a recording of themselves talking to customers, just so they can see how weird/annoying/crazy they sound.

And now, for a lunch meeting.

Continue Reading

No possible excuse to litter!


(By Buckingham Fountain, click here for a larger image.)

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about transition. I had a shocking moment the other day when I realized that a vast number of friends I formerly thought of in the singular form have turned into a unit of the married variety. Theoretically I knew that this was the case, but after the announcement of yet another engagement (I’ve kind of given up counting), and the realization that I would be attending one wedding in Chicago in a week and another in Texas in 3 weeks…well. I sat back in my chair, put my hand over my forehead in a dramatic way, and proceeded to enact a very Shakespearean scene, complete with swordfights and swooning maidens.

No. Not really. I was just amused. It happens to everyone, haha. And I love the chance to watch my friends happiness first-hand and dance at the weddings. Really, the dancing is the most important part. 😉

Other kinds of transitions are taking place. I have friends going to grad school, or deciding not to go back to school. Friends moving overseas, and friends returning from being abroad. There are career choices, lifestyle changes, moves, babies being born (oh yes, that is slowly starting to happen, too!). How very wonderful!

In the theme of my post about search, we learn a lot about our decision making styles and ability to commit to a path once we start on it. The factors that play into these choices (family, responsibilities, friends, jobs, service) all have to be weighed.

However, do we sometimes wait to take action until we have everything figured out? “Life is busy right now, I’ll wait to ____ (get married/change careers/do service/etc) when life slows down.” Or fear can take over, whether it is fear of failure (which, as we know, has no place in the path of service), or fear of injury/heartache/complications/the uknown. This is not to say that fear is not a valid feeling, but that we must overcome it to reach our goals.

So then, for me, it all boils down to detachment…especially detachment to our ego & self. Resignation to whatever is the Will of God (Insha’allah, in Arabic), while taking action in the best way we know how.

Continue Reading

Slow down

Answering questions is such a difficult thing sometimes. I have such an open face, you can read my soul in my eyes and smile most of the time.

This is both good and bad. Sometimes we have to be just a little bit private, hold things close to our hearts. It’s ok to do this.

I’m tired of asking what is new with people. I am tired of being asked what is new with me. I’m becoming weary of myself. The personal surface level has been discussed so many times before. What has happened to intelligent conversation? I’m not saying any of this in a whining way, nor am I berating people. I see it in myself as well, and I write to figure out how I want to take action on things in my life.

So we’ll laugh, and I’ll laugh, and be happy to see you. I promise. I’d also like to talk about the article I read in Business Week or the way stars are disappearing from our lives or the way flowers hold their shape in the sun and the velvet smoothness of wind off of Lake Michigan in the summer when we sit on the beach or maybe even we will sit quietly and that is ok too. I promise. Silence is not scary for me. We’ll read books on the grass because those are the kinds of memories that last, ice cream unplanned and talking until our hearts feel full again.

I am writing new songs in that clumsy way of mine
hoping that the words spoken have a purpose
and take apart the little glass pieces that work their way
under our heart’s skin.
Wishing I could sing one note with clarity
knowing that this muddled mash of awkward phrases
is enough to help me hold on
remember.

Continue Reading

aaaaah…

Most relaxing night EVER. I didn’t get home until 9:30 pm but it was for a good reason. Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself, to take the time so that you’re a productive member of society again. yay.

I was reminded last night (again) how much I love Chinatown. I got a huge dinner (that was also breakfast) for $4.

I looked at my stats for the blog and I had 29 unique visitors yesterday. I’m also realizing that I have some international visitors that I never would have thought I had. Um, could the person from somewhere in South America please stand up? hahaha. Awesome.

I have at least 3 blog entries that I’ve started and not yet had time to sit down and finish/post. So y’all get this filler entry for now. 🙂

*waves to the masses that read but never comment* Have a great day!

Continue Reading

Job Satisfaction

I was reading this article called “Signs you have a great job … or not”. The following questions are asked.

$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$
1. Do I know what’s expected of me at work?

2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4. In the last 7 days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10. Do I have a best friend at work?

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and to grow?

…One cautionary note: Your job may not be as wonderful for you as you think if you answer a majority of the 12 questions affirmatively but the few questions that you can’t are among the first six…

…”If you’re not able to use your gifts everyday, you’ll be pretty frustrated,”…

…Of course, job satisfaction isn’t a one-way street with a department either meeting your needs or not. In order to answer the 12 questions honestly, you need to know what it is that makes you tick and not blindly blame your department for any job dissatisfaction…
$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$-$

So it makes me think about how we rate our jobs. Pay & benefits are important to everyone, of course, but how do we know what we are truly looking for in a satisfying job? What is our criteria for a job? Are we realistic about what we want?

In other news, expect me to be using this lot if I ever pick you up from the airport. Thank God.

Continue Reading

Not surprised.

I am still trying to understand
how people get to know each other
to form friendships or assumptions
based on 5 minute meetings in a
crowded room.

I am trying to fathom how one can
make any judgement of who I am
when they’ve never tried to know me
or have a conversation beyond “hellos”.

I am trying to discern
how it can be justified to say things
masked as “concern for a friend”
but are hurtful in any case.

I am trying to figure out
what it is I did to make them feel unwelcome
or why they simply did not approach me
when they felt slighted.

Maybe I am mistaken
but I was pretty sure we are supposed to
be going for a higher standard here.

But who am I to say
how others should think of me?
Maybe I need to try harder
but I feel like there is only so much
I can do.


Continue Reading

Incommunicado

Anna Quindlen’s Newsweek article, The Face In The Crowd, talks about the facelessness of today’s communication experience.

She notes that, “A face-to-face meeting often means the difference between understanding and estrangement.” How often do we send an email or a text message and the meaning is misunderstood? How many flame wars have started and friendships damaged because people can’t hear the inflection in a voice or see someone’s facial expression?

The other part of the article that I appreciate is the concept that we are not allowed to have time to ourselves anymore:

“So many of the old conventions have gone the way of the TV antennaprivacy, downtime, the line between work life and home life that was once delineated by the ride on the train or the closing of the apartment door.”

My cell phone is always next to me (as many of my friends and relatives can attest). The insistent ringing of the phone, the alert that I have email, or the buzzing of a text message all make me leap toward the offending bit of electronic equipment to respond. I have to make an effort not to answer my phone, instead of the other way around.

The expectation by others that I will always be available is fueled by my behavior, of course, but I also believe it is quickly becoming a societal virus. We expect instant gratification, but I think that our expectations are lowered, as well. Quality is sacrificed for speed.

Although I have both feet firmly planted in the modern world of communication, I still like to reach back to postcards, letters, and packages as a way of maintaining truer friendships and relationships with relatives. Everyone loves getting tangible letters in the mail…but can you remember the last letter you got that someone spent time writing?

I have one friend that takes time away from the internet for an evening or weekend. She doesn’t log on to check anything…it is a way for her to maintain a focus on the real world, I think. The times I have done this I have felt a sense of freedom from stress and the demands of others.

One of my closest friends is overseas right now, studying abroad. The other day we were surprised to learn how much we depend on each other for solid advice, support, and understanding. She and I have had to learn how to maintain a friendship as she first moved across the country, then across the world. Our friendship is not based superficialities…we talk about all kinds of subjects and do service in the Faith. She is one of those friends that will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. I feel blessed that I have so many people in my life that have these attributes.

There are times that I find myself stretched too thin between friends. How many people can one person maintain true, lasting friendships with? How has our definition of friendship changed with the advent of the internet and the way people constantly change locations? Do we take our friends for granted because it is easier to create new friendships, since we are no longer limited to the people that live in our town?

Continue Reading

I Like…#2

After the success of the last “I Like…” post, I decided to talk about more things that make me smile. I often read the news to keep up with what is happening with the world, there is a distinct lack of simple, joyful experiences that are shared.

roses that are any color but red or white
whispers
children learning to crawl
strange objects
creating something new

watching someone accomplish something for the first time
looking into eyes and not wanting to look away
progress
spending hours in a craft/fabric store
making things by hand
history

when I am about to fall asleep
dresses
lazy Sunday afternoons
fancy chocolate (especially with raspberries)
holding a small baby while they sleep
strange signs

silence

Continue Reading

Historical

My house was built in 1889. How strange to realize that many people have lived here before me, and I don’t know their stories.

History makes me smile. I read Streets of the Near West Side a few weeks ago, and now I’m reading City of Big Shoulders. I also skimmed through Iranians in Chicagoland, which actually mentions some Baha’is (both historical and current). These books are in addition to a couple of fantasy books, Child of the Covenant, and a book on a sect of Christianity.

What do you like to read about?

Continue Reading

memememe

I look at the calendar and realize that it has been 10 days since I posted.

Work, a 102 degree fever, preparing for a friend’s wedding, spending time with those I have missed, and trying to organize my new lifestyle (being a responsible adult) have left me unable to write coherently. This whole “8 am – 5 pm” type thing is nice in that my schedule is pretty set, and I don’t have homework anymore…but I am not a morning person.

New hobbies: reading things about the history of Chicago. Reorganizing my room (too much clutter aaagh!). Thinking about goals in my life.

————
I’ve been tagged to do a survey, so I’ll do it…but only to make certain people happy. 😉

Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Inside Sales Associate
2. Barista
3. Marketing Assistant
4. Resident Assistant

Four movies I can watch over and over:

1. The Princess Bride
2. The Dark Crystal
3. The Fifth Element
4. Empire Records

Four places I’ve lived:

1. Northfield, Minnesota
2. Aiken, South Carolina
3. Naperville, IL
4. Chicago, IL

Four TV shows I love:

1. Scrubs
2. The Daily Show
3. Gilmore Girls
4. ER

Four places I’ve vacationed:

1. China
2. Israel
3. Phoenix, AZ
4. Toronto, Canada

Four of my favorite dishes:

1. Gormeh Sabzi (persian stew of greens w/beef cubes over rice)
2. Most Thai food
3. Snow crab dipped in butter
4. Flan

Four sites I visit daily:

1. bbc.co.uk
2. the andropolis/lay-c families of blogs
3. calmstorm.net (my site, mostly to get rid of spam!)
4. a large variety of online comics, such as MacHall and Scary Go Round.

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Charleston, South Carolina (preferably in a mansion overlooking the water)
2. Florida
3. a castle in France
4. In Italy hanging out with my girl Carmen (waah I miss her!)

Continue Reading

Again

Things are right with the world. Little things unbalance and make themselves apparent, and then you pray and talk about it and you know it is ok. I may not be able to heal everything, but I will always do my best. And I know all of you will, too.

I see my dear ones and that is what matters. We move apart and come back, the love is always there. The comfort that comes with home, wherever that is. For most of us, it must exist with us, because home cannot be a place or time.


(From the Orlando trip…)

Continue Reading

Feeding babies…

Read this: Doctors challenge baby feeding myths

Some excerpts:

“There’s a bunch of mythology out there about this,” says Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. “There’s not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things.”

As research increasingly suggests a child’s first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and broadening babies’ palates.

Parents elsewhere in the world certainly take a more freewheeling approach, often starting babies on heartier, more flavorful fare — from meats in African countries to fish and radishes in Japan and artichokes and tomatoes in France.

The difference is cultural, not scientific, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ nutrition committee who says the American approach suffers from a Western bias that fails to reflect the nation’s ethnic diversity.

Interesting! I am not surprised by this, but it is good to find something like this on CNN.

THOUGHTS?

Continue Reading

I wanted to write…

but then I didn’t know what to say.

Starting with: No one really knows what I am thinking. Obvious, sure. But what I mean is that even if you think that you understand, I’m almost guaranteed to have left something out. I’m starting to confuse myself now, too. 😉

Also, I want to leave (this may or may not be related to the above paragraph). I want to go somewhere no one knows me. This may mean the middle of a jungle in South America or a desert in Africa. At this point, I really don’t care.

I have a midterm in 4 1/2 hours, and I am afraid to fall asleep, because I worry that I’ll not hear my alarm and miss the test.

Wish I was more coherent. Yay cryptic 5 am entries!

Continue Reading

Summer writing and change

Summer is not conducive to blog-writing, at least among some of my friends. It may be that we’re too busy enjoying the nice weather. It is easier to convince oneself that there is nothing to do when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground, so sitting in front of a computer is actually productive.

Somehow the week got away from me. Reconnection with high school friends and the comfort of the suburbs (I love not having to search for parking!), sewing (I made a skirt), spending time with friends, getting ice cream and cheese fries at the local shops, biking, and reading.

I look up to realize that we have reached the halfway point of August, and things are heating up. School starting, Greenlake conference, my birthday (whee!), and a dozen other projects, events, and plans. I’m excited.

I also realize that these things all signify changes. This is my last semester of school. The weather will become hostile to bike-riding and the beach. Back-porch chats will be moved to the living room. I start the job hunt in earnest. Friends are getting married, moving, or starting new phases in their lives, a whirlwind of activity that I watch with some bemusement.

Continue Reading