You are looking at posts that were written in the month of October in the year 2007.
Posted on October 27th, 2007 by george.
As we were walking down Fifth Avenue last weekend in New York, I looked up and noticed the moon.
“How do you say ‘moon’ in Persian, Nas?”
“Setareh? That would be a beautiful name.”
Considering that I know Persians named “flower,” “breeze,” “joy,” “flame,” “angel,” and “typhoon,” (just to name a few!) I didn’t think “star” would be too much of a stretch.
Fast forward to this Thursday for my weekly dinner with a Persian family who just moved to Melbourne. We enjoy homemade meals and good company, then practice English and bits of Farsi. The mother and father are Farideh and Kazim. There are four grown children: Mehran, Mehrdad, Mehrad and Mehrvash. The latter two, brother and sister, live with the parents in Melbourne, along with Mehrad’s pregnant wife Sahar. It’s easy to see that Kazim has a fondness for the multi-facted word “Mehr,” which is not only the seventh month in the Persian calendar, but also means God, angel, and is a symbol of the sun.
“George, can you say ’setareh?’” asked Mehrad.
“‘Setareh?’ Sure. Why?”
“Because that’s what we’re considering naming the baby.”
what makes a man?
is that what I see
in my reflection
the wrinkles of my smile?
such perfect screens
on which to project
worth a thousand
to each his own
none of them discerning
the truth of that moment
so shamelessly recorded
but impossible to name
am I a man
at your side?
your raven locks
spilling across my shoulder
or have I become one
since letting you go
upon your way
to forge your identity
in the fire of mistaken passion
the life of us
was a dream
the turquoise waters frigid
the sandy crescent a fabrication
the love but a figment
of my intoxication
the Sun is always shining
whether you see day or night
your place on Earth does not dictate
the blazing of its light
in point of fact you don’t affect
its fusion in the least
on sunny sides it shares its warmth
with human, plant and beast
likewise I know I’m not alone
when you’re not at my side
you’ve been my wife since long before
the day you’ll be my bride
commitment, love, and truthfulness
are stablished in advance
the steps are learned in practice well
before you toe the dance
and loneliness is just as much
illusion as the dark
the light of spirit does not blind
like passion’s flame and spark
we wail and moan that love is gone
that darkness took its place
but simply turn your head and feel
love’s light upon your face
so don’t be trapped by what you see
what eyes say isn’t there
from darkness inexorably
emerges daylight’s flare
It’s 11:30. Let’s see if I can crank this out before another midnight rolls around.
I got off the plane in Miami yesterday, and by some miracle sailed through Customs. Straight to South Beach, where I had a panini and an iced cappuccino at the only dedicated Segafredo cafe in the world. Caught the parade on Lincoln Road, then sauntered over to the beach for my first ocean-water ablutions. No visit to SoBe is completed without a cruise down Ocean, and I must say Kashmir was feeling pretty hip with her sunroof open and Air on the stereo. Stopped by the giant sculpture of a hand on the way out of town, only to discover it was a Holocaust memorial. Spent a haunting hour reliving that nightmare in words, photos, music and art. The tour was free and I was undisturbed by any other visitors, thanks to the kind security guard. Took the scenic route out of town through Surfside, Bal Harbour, Haulover, Sunny Isles and Golden Beach, all the way to Hallandale before hopping on 95. An hour and a half later I was in Port St. Lucie, visiting Denise, catching up, eating protein pancakes and discussing the spirituality of extraterrestrials. We talked so late I ended up crashing in the guest room about two a.m. (after posting the nightly obligatory photos to flickr). Up by seven for a quick goodbye, on the road and into work by 9:30. Full day catching up on emails that arrived during my time in Mexico. Had the incredible honor and distinct pleasure of meeting Sunita Williams at the Expedition 14/15 presentation this afternoon. What a singularly amazing person! She is unbelievably kind, upbeat, fun-loving, intelligent, positive and happy. What a joy to meet someone so deserving of astronaut wings.
Finished up a work, drove home to catch up on the scuba class I missed Monday. Managed to digest 90 pages of information in 45 minutes; enough to ace both tests today. Got out of class around 10:30pm, quick bean burrito from the border, and now this. I’m starting to get upset that I simply have no slots in the day in which to fit my gym routine. What a great problem to have, eh?
I relate all this to you in order to contrast the experience of the past five days in Mexico. People, I could write a small book describing what happens to me in that place; suffice it to say I took over one thousand photos. And you wonder why I’m six months behind on flickr. Though I will remind you that I’ve been consistently six months behind over the past year. So at least I’m keeping the pace, if not catching up.
But pay attention, chico! Mexico. Taxco was a dream. There’s no other way to describe it. Imagine waking up one morning and praying for the perfect day, then having your wildest dreams exceeded at every turn. Just wait til you see the photos. It was so idyllic I’m loath to even tell you the name of such a magical place, perched high atop cliffs in lush, pristine mountains. From our meal on the rooftop terrace overlooking the zocalo, to finding a nine-pointed star in the endless silver shops, to wearing one of my fifteen (!) new lucha libre masks through town and creating a scene…well, you just had to be there. Heck, if you want to go, I will take you there. In a heartbeat.
We fit a month into five days. I’m not even beginning to exaggerate. Floating languidly down the canals on a pole boat in Xochimilco. Dancing at one of the hippest clubs I’ve ever seen in Polanco. Racing through the empty, rain-soaked streets of one of the world’s largest cities at the wheel of Lulu’s Liberty at 4am. Quiet dinners and home with my Mexican family. Profound glances. Unspoken truths. Learning more Spanish than most people would in a semester.
Of the hundred epiphanies that were visited upon me during my stay, one stands out: on the last night, as I watched the lights twinkle on the mountains that ring this dream of a city, I realized: I am a different person here. Not once had I thought of my home in Florida, or my job, or my mortgage, or my bills, or my obligations. It dawned on me that my personality had changed; I was literally seeing with new eyes. Mexican eyes. What everyone had been telling me was true. “You’re at least half Mexican.” “No wonder you like Mexico, we’re all like you!” “You are my cousin, mi primo.” “You are my brother.” “Te quiero mucho.” “I love you.”
It’s a good thing I came back “home” through Miami. Otherwise I might not have survived the reverse culture shock.
It’s been a hectic few weeks in Florida, working on the Shuttles every day while trying to complete the engineering certification process. It can be difficult to find the balance, to fit all the necessary tasks into each day. Meanwhile I’ve signed up for scuba classes, kept the house in working order, kept the car maintained, seen friends, read, prayed, kept up with friends online and stayed busy putting out the myriad fires that flare up in daily life. It’s been a sleep-deprived blur over the past few weeks, and chores always accelerate when you’re trying to get things in order in advance of an international trip.
I could run you through the entire saga of travel for the day, but it’s late and I’m tired. Despite best laid plans, I find myself chronically late. But there always seems to be a way to catch up. Suffice it to say I made it from Melbourne to Miami International in exactly 2.5 hours during rush hour. Made the plane with minutes to spare. TGFRD (you’ll have to ask Fresita).
It’s been over a year since I’ve been here, and I’ll admit to a twinge of apprehension while waiting at the airport. But as the short flight progressed (three hours? it takes longer to get to Utah!), any residual anxiety melted away. I made it all the way through customs, answering questions and chit-chatting, without a word of English. I’ve never taken a course in Spanish in my life. Hear that, amigos? It must finally be rubbing off on me! The customs officer even called me Jorge without prompting. Me. The tall, Irish-looking white boy. In fact, by the time Lulu picked me up in her white Jeep Liberty, I was beaming. I am absolutely ecstatic to be back in Mexico. I love this country. And that is due in no small part to the people. It may seem hard to believe, but these people are my family.
Lulu summed it up best, just now, as we said buenas noches.
“Welcome home, Jorgito.”
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Once in a while something new comes along that takes you completely by surprise. You thought photoshop was good for manipulating photos? What would you do if you could seamlessly change the relative distance between elements of a photo without distorting them?
Am I not making sense? Then just watch the video. And prepare to be amazed. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
Resize your own photos for free on the web at Rsizr. And by “resize” I don’t mean shrink or crop. Just check it out. It’s incredible.