May 16, 2003
Spent last 3 weeks locked in my room, with just paper and pen to
keep me company. It looks like an earthquake has hit my little abode.
A thousand crumpled papers lie on the floor here and there, amidst
various discarded items of clothing. Occasionally, Artie comes in
with a food tray which he discreetly inserts in my room then scurries
out without a word, as if I am Rochester's crazy wife locked up
in the attic. I do look the part though. I have lost count of the
number of pencils stuck in my rat's nest of hair, and my old Scooby-Doo
T-shirt has been yanked, pulled, and twisted so much it is beginning
to look like an old dishrag.
I have never felt better.
The more I write, the more I feel relief, I feel light, as if I
am shedding pounds. And once I get going, it is so easy, I mean
the flow of words is almost endless and I write until my hand hurts.
But after I am done writing comes what I call another simmering
period. I pace up and down in my room, look out the window, turn
on the TV for some mindless daytime programming. I am waiting for
"It" to come to me. Slowly, shadows of ideas form and
as they dance around in my head, they first step on each other's
toes, stumble a little.
It takes a while before they get their rhythm. Sometimes, they
end up in a harmonious waltz, full of logic and symmetry. Other
times, it is more like a free for all at a punk rock concert. Whatever
shape it takes, that's when the shadows become more clear-cut, they
gain distinct features, personalities, character. After I let them
simmer a bit in my head, I reach boiling point and that's when I
let all those words, ideas, and concepts slip down from my mind
onto my fingers and land on paper. At that point, I never even have
to think about writing, it's more like the pages are writing themselves.
Today, it's the first time that I even remember how exhausted I
am. Strangely, I also feel kind of depressed. After 58 pages, I
am ... done! I look at those blackened pages now like they are strangers.
I can't believe it was me who wrote all that B.S. And now that it's
all over, I don't even know what it was all for. What am I supposed
to do with all this?
-- "Send it to me," Manny insists. "I'll read it
and then we can go from there..."
-- "When did you suddenly become a literary editor?"
-- "There's nothing you can't do if you just put your mind
-- "Hmmm... There may be a self-help book in your future Manny!"
-- "Hey you never know? Okay so Naz, go down to Kinko's right
this minute, copy this sucker and send it okay? DON'T procrastinate!"
-- "Who, moi?"
After a few minutes, the phone rings again.
-- "Naz, why are you still home?"
Grrrrrrrrrrrr... This chick knows me too well.
-- "All right, all right...I'm gone!"
But to tell you the truth, I can't get out of bed. I reach behind
me with one hand and turn my CD player on. As Leonard Cohen sings
about waltzes in Vienna, I close my eyes and find myself drifting
Oh gawd, not again. I reluctantly pick up the receiver.
-- "Manny, I may have to take a restraining order against
-- "CHI CHI?" (WHAT?)
-- "Maman?" I sigh
-- "NAZEEEEEE???? NAZEEEEEEE ???"\
Oh for god's sake, why does she always have to scream into the
phone as if she's calling from Tehran?
-- "Maman, I'm right here. Can't you hear me?"
-- "Uh-huh... Nazee to-yee? Khob... DIGEH che khabar?"
(So... what ELSE is new?)
Here we go.
-- "Khabar peeshe shomasst!" (You have all the news.)
We go back and forth like that a few times, before she spits it
-- "Khob baa Dariush joon chi shod?"
Oh great, I knew it!
-- "Maman, forget it. Your set-up didn't work."
-- "CHI CHI?"
I swear, her voice gets on dog frequency sometimes.
-- "Heechee nashod, Maman..." (Nothing happened mom)
-- "Baa ham biroon naraftin?" (You didn't go out together?)
-- "Cheraa..." (Yeah...)
-- "Khob pass..." (So then...?)
-- "Pass nothing Maman, I am gonna die an old maid okay????"
-- "AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh Nazee don't-eh talk like dat."
I can't help snickering.
-- "DAARI MANO MASKHARE MIKONI???????"
-- "Oh no Maman...(chuckle)... I would never dare make fun
-- "Nazee vaaghan...nemidoonam chi begam..."
Her voice trails off. Wow, this is a first: My mother has actually
ran out of things to say?
-- "Baba chetoreh" I offer, trying to change the subject.
(How is dad?)
-- "Umm...heechee... Baa Issa too bagheh..." (He is in
the garden with Issa).
Issa is an old Japanese man who comes and helps out my dad in the
garden sometimes. He is as blind as a bat and wears glasses thicker
than bullet proof windows. He also requires constant supervision.
My parents once came home to find that he had let himself into the
backyard and he had dug a huge man-size hole right in the middle
of the garden. All they could see at first was a huge mound of earth
on one side and a little bespectacled Japanese head peeking out
of the ground on the other. We never did find out what he was planning
to do with all that digging. But my dad likes to hang around with
him because they both have a genuine love for gardening.
-- "Khob Nazee jaan, key miyaaye khooneh?" (When are
you coming home?)
-- "Mom" I sigh "Home is wherever I choose to live.
And I choose to live here right now."
-- "Akheh cheraa??? NAZEE..." Her volume has suddenly
sharpened again. "DAARI CHEKAAR MIKONI BAA ZENDEGITT?"
(What are you doing with your life?)
Why do we always need to do something with our life? Can't we just
live it? I am in no mood for her lectures.
-- "Maman, I have to go okay?"
Maybe this is a sign I do have to get out.
Outside, it is eerily cool. What a weird place this is: 90 + degree
weather in winter and now that we are in spring, it is suddenly
After dropping off my papers to Kinko's, I decide to take a walk
and clear my head. No matter how much I try to ignore her, Maman's
words have taken effect. Who am I really kidding here? What AM I
doing with my life? I thought I was supposed to be an actress, what
the hell am I thinking with this writing business? Who would even
be interested in hearing about my stupid life stories. It's not
like I am writing the memoirs of a pirate of the high seas...or
even... sigh... an internationalist journalist. I wonder how Ali
is doing with his book. I wish I could have his opinion, his advice
on this whole thing. Once again, I really do miss my best friend.
TO BE CONTINUED.
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