Letters from Houston

Houston, February 2nd, 2009

Dear All:

Well we are having a very proper Edgar Allan Poe morning here. All atmospheric and foggy. It is a perfect day for remaining abed or for downing big spoonfuls of some rich stew or other similar food. I have half a mind to cook one of those thick soupy concoctions that most anyone would be happy to see on the burner unless they are otherwise dieting or on the extreme end of some food disorder.

I just dropped R off at school. For evident reasons, Mondays are always the most difficult in terms of getting him ready on time. Having had two full days in which to dictatorially mastermind how his hours unfold, he is understandably resentful of the "rude" early morning wake-up and of the rush-rush to get him to school before the gates close (whole 'nother story and I'll tell it some other time). In any case, Monday mornings are always a battle royal.

The child grouses in his bath and grumbles through the washing of his teeth; he then wriggles and whines while I struggle to brush his hair and fit him into his uniform. No mean trick when you've got underwear, socks, pants, long sleeved shirt and a cardigan to get through. But, nothing is as guaranteed to prompt his most pitiful expressions and absolutely astounding noose and choking pantomimes, like clapping eyes on his school tie does. It is an honest to goodness tie and not one of those fake, clip-on affairs mind you. Hence the noose pantomimes. For my 4-year-old Chaplin, the tie is where. he. draws. the. line. The unmarked Maginot of his unwillingness defeated by my adult strength. Can't say that I enjoy having to pin him down every Monday morning but when the talcum powder of struggle has settled, no Etonian surpasses the glory of my starched and tie-donning, if incredibly pissed, little boy. He looks great and I'm a mess.

R partially dressed in his school uniform

I'm sure that someday, when he is older, he will tell me how my forcing him to wear a tie has damaged something in his psyche. And then I shall tell him how forcing him to wear one aged me beyond my years.

So I'm sitting here feeling like a sea lion. I had a monstrously heavy meal at the home of my Persian friends yesterday. Our host was actually a professional caterer and the king-sized platter of koobideh, barg and jujeh kebab which they elephant-carried out of the kitchen, was easily as big as my dining room table. You know that Persians always cook as if they mean to feed entire armies and even then, they worry unnecessarily that they might not have enough. Everything tasted delicious. All 20 of us fell upon that meal like we'd been starved for weeks and ate until we could not fit another morsel in the belly. One day later I'm still feeling like a stuffed sausage and though truly a perfect day for making something sinful and carbohydrate-laden like the stew I was thinking of previously, I'll probably stick with cups of tea until tomorrow. By then this heavy feeling in my stomach should have gone away.

On Saturday we attended the Iranian Film Festival which is now in its 16th year here in Houston. I had to drag M to it. You would think that since he is Persian he would love to watch movies from his homeland but, that isn't the case at all. As M would explain it, if all Persian songs are about aching love, then all Persian movies are about some terrible tragedy. So far, and in my limited experience, he's been mostly correct. And Saturday's showing remained true to that spirit of the suffering that Persian films depict so well. With a sinking heart, I watched Santouri, a story about a famous musician who becomes a cocaine addict thereby losing his livelihood, the love of his life and his ability to create music. In the tragedy-o-meter, I'd give it a seven. A perfect ten being the story of the poor little Persian girl who loses her one and only pair of shoes. A more pitiful movie I have never been so unfortunate to see. By the end you just want to gouge your eyes out rather than watch yet another awful set of circumstances befall her. I'm not joking.

Not so the documentary Arusi Persian Wedding. We saw that one yesterday evening. Bucking the trend, it is the reaffirming love story of a Persian man and an American woman who marry and make their relationship work even with the hiccups of cultural differences. I think I loved this film especially because in many ways, it is my own story. I found incredible similarities in my life and that of Heather Tehrani. Both of us are non-Iranians who have married into Persian families and embraced Persian culture. Like her, I too have been enriched by all my husband has brought to my life. And would you imagine that M realized as soon as the film began showing, that he knows the Persian family depicted in the documentary? In fact, newly arrived in California during the early 1970's, he and his parents stayed with the Tehranis for nearly a month before they bought their own home in Piedmont. The world is a small place and, should you happen to be Persian, it is even smaller.

Alex and Heather Tehrani from Arusi Persian Wedding

Well that is it for now. So many errands to run and only a few hours before I need to go pick R up. I trust you had a good weekend also and until I pen my next letter, be well.



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