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As of 11 pm

I have been home since 3 pm today. You may have heard that Chicago was anticipating a blizzard. Well, the wind is the strangest part for me right now. Everything is white outside my window at the moment, and snowdrifts are starting to build:

11 pm snowdrift

I took this video at 9 pm. It is much louder and more windy now, a solid wall of white, no visibility. I am wondering how crazy the world will be when I wake up. I’ll definitely take my DSLR out to take photos.

Something about storms like this, the hibernation, the silence, how everything shuts down…it is surreal. I haven’t had any power outages (thank God), and I have a ton of food, so I am just cozy in my little cave here. Obviously I won’t be at work tomorrow, so I put everything on a USB drive to work on from home. Will try to keep you updated!

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I now have a giant bruise on my leg that hurts every time I walk.  I didn’t get this bruise from hitting the ground too hard after skydiving, or from fending off a vicious bear.  I didn’t get it from a sword fight while saving the kingdom from evil, or from rescuing a child from a burning building.

I walked into a table.  Again.  With eyewitnesses, who winced at my pain but also laughed at me.  Thanks, guys.

There are times when I am graceful, and times when I am decidedly not.

Also, the other day I poured milk into my bowl of rice and stew, instead of into my coffee where it belonged.

I made a flan for my mother’s birthday the night before…and of course, forgot to put it out for her birthday.

I went to the pool, and forgot to take a towel.

I am young, and I am losing my mind.  🙂

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memory boxes: 2


I was born in a hospital on the Mississippi River…but I don’t remember that part of my Minnesota story.  When I was one year old, we left this state, but it has always been a second home, on account of my Persian family members living here.

There was a thunderstorm one night that shook the walls of my grandparent’s apartment.  We all gathered in the hallway, and I remember being scared but strangely exhilarated.

Persian food.  Always a table nearly bending under the weight of platters of rice, khoresht (stew), and the dozen or so side items that go along with such a feast.  The women of my family really know how to cook.  Food is the central activity that makes a family go round.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all in a friendly chaotic shuffle around the extended tables, taking turns in different homes.

We are a mixed family…at least 4 different countries are represented in the 24 individuals that comprise this group.  I love it.  The half-English, half-Persian language that is created in the stories and translations is so normal and comforting.   The generations of the Baha’i Faith within our family go back to the mid-1800s, and also began in the present day.  The extended family has more than 200 members.

Babajoon has a lot of random sayings and advice, and most of my enduring memories of him are of him sitting in a corner with a thick book and his glasses low on his nose.  He would make up songs about putting our seatbelts on in the car, and he is the person from whom I have inherited my social personality.  He knows everyone.

We picked fresh grape leaves in the park, and Mamanjoon taught us to make dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), her hands deftly wrapping the edges around and neatly placing them in the pot.  Mine still don’t look like hers.  Maybe I will be able to do it in 50 years…I just need practice.  She taught us how to sew, starting with sewing buttons on pieces of scrap cloth.

I learned how to dance (Persian style) in the living rooms of my aunts’ homes.  I learned how to cook in my mother’s kitchen, and how to make kabob koobideh (ground meat on a skewer) from a few different relatives over the years.

My cousins and I were bundled into coats so thick that we could barely move, and told to play in the snow by the swing set.  The swing set is gone now…it was a hazard even when I was young.  In the summers we would be pushed around in the go-cart my cousins built, or take walks around the neighborhood.

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It is that odd little vegetable that most people don’t seem to know what to do with. In the southeastern United States, we put it in gumbo or breaded and fried. As a kid, I loved going to restaurants in South Carolina or Georgia, where I would pile my plate high with fried okra and mashed potatoes. In Persian cuisine, it is cooked in a stew of beef, tomatoes, potatoes, and onion. This is probably one of the most simple dishes to make, and I make it often.

Some people don’t like the consistency of okra…well, not much I can do about that! I try not to overcook the okra (I put it in at the very end), so it isn’t quite so slimy. Here is my recipe for khoresht-e bamieh. It serves about5 people, since I really only know how to cook for a family.

1 onion, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small can tomato paste (several tablespoons)
1 pound cubed beef
1 package of frozen okra, or 1/2 pound fresh okra
salt, pepper
1 teaspoon tumeric

If you have a slow cooker, just throw all of the ingredients in except for the okra, let it cook overnight, and then put the okra in for the last hour. If not, it takes a few more steps:

Fry onions, meat, and spices on low heat with a little bit of oil and water for about 40 minutes, until browned. In a separate pot, boil the potatoes at the same time. Combine all ingredients in pot and cook for another hour.

Eat as a stew by itself, or over rice.

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Sweet little lady, bare feet in the summer grass. Her eyes closed, face up to the sky, there is forever stretched around her.

Perfect, perfect, and her heart just stops just one moment as she breathes in the universe…as the years followed behind her, never quite catching up. She smiled at those who least expected it. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault (although it could be someone’s fault), there was no one to blame, but those poor pretty hearts were left in the dust by the side of country roads.

Fierce little lady, with dark bright eyes and sorrow slightly tinged, her bare feet shift as she slowly pulls one piece of grass, then two, and makes a bridge for insects to cross.

Memories have a tendency to pile up, to push the stories out of the way, to allow us to forget more than we remember, to only remember the strangest things. Her stories never had the right audience, her hands weaving in the air, but she only had one or three really good stories. The trick was to stay quiet, to stretch ears beyond the confines of the room, and while she had forgotten to do this for a few years, it came back to her eventually.

Would it actually work to roll down the hill? It was soft and green, but the end of the hills disappoint exponentially as our expectations are raised. God knew that our eyes wanted blue skies, green grass, pieces of paper covered in squiggly lines, hands grasped in hands, pots of stew simmering, bird feathers, rows of trees, and bare feet in hot sand.

Quiet little lady, she gathers up her garlands of wilted flowers and pieces of stories, and walks down the hill toward home.

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I am strangled by time zone differences and my inability to communicate. I spent the day doing nothing except watching documentaries and baking gluten-free cookies. I didn’t even clean, respond to emails, make phone calls…not one useful thing.

Oh, well I did paint my nails.

Meals have been haphazard today. I am finding myself in strange places in my head. I slept only as much as the sun allowed me, woke up with my arm so asleep that it was no longer my own.

I drank too much weak coffee last night, I talked too much and now everything is fuzzy because I no longer remember what stories I tell. There is no need to talk this much. I want to start over, start my stories over. I don’t want to be the same person any more. I want to be me again.

Yesterday was a morning in the Hadar, entering stores, the feeling of fabric between my fingers and street vendors. I love the crowded vegetable stands with mangoes twice the size as usual, the butcher that says “Welcome to Israel!” (that beef was amazing in the stew, by the way). Roya, maybe I should have bought that magnet. 🙂

I wish I could find one thing that consumes me…too much ambivalence is making me a very boring person. I wish I could gather stories to re-tell that make people hold their breath. I wish I could walk in the streets with nothing but time and photographs of the future and restless feet…

and you.

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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:

2. the andropolis/lay-c families of blogs
3. (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!)

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The Beach & Food

snapped out of it, thanks to assistance from various areas, not the least of which was prayer.

I spun on the beach with hands above my head
and my wrap flying in the air
and walked into water that was warmer than expected.
Felt that gravel bite my toes in unreasoning viciousness,
with sharp contrast to soft lake sand sliding under my feet.
I deluded myself thinking that I played in the water,
knowing now that the water played with me.
Surprised that I must hold my skirt so high
to avoid waves crashing against me.

New recipe! (Especially good for starving college students, haha!)
Chicken breast
1 clove garlic
1 onion
1 can of stewed tomatoes

Slice chicken breast into long strips or cubes. Chop onion and garlic into small pieces. Place all of this in a crock pot or on the stove on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in crock pot for 4 hours, or on stove until done. Serve over rice.


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