May 13 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 to it.”
— “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 away.
Oh gawd, not again. I reluctantly pick up the receiver.
— “Manny, I may have to take a restraining order against you!”
— “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 out.
— “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 of you…”
— “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 freezing.
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.