Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Weekends

September 8, 2008

Best thing this weekend: My sister was in town! That’s always fun times. This is picture is from her 21st birthday, but appropriately expresses our glee.

Worst thing this weekend: Having to depart from drinking with my family early to pick David up from the east side after he locked his keys in the car at midnight. Oh, and have I mentioned he sprained his ankle last week and is/was on crutches? Yeah, ’cause he did.

Craziest thing this weekend: Helping my mom with my youngest sister’s 13th birthday party. Thankfully only about 12 of the 19 kids invited were able to make it. But it was still 4 hours of complete insanity.

Second best thing this weekend: Spending alone time with David on Sunday evening. We started watching Heroes on Netflix. We watched one episode and are already hooked! David also finished reading Ender’s Game to me. What an awesome and crazy book! I’m really liking curling up in bed and having a book read to me. It’s so much fun! It’s a good way to wind down at the end of the day. We’re going to read something a little lighter and fluffier next, but we might make our way back to the Ender series in a couple months. We also decided to read scary stories in October. Specifically, Edgar Allen Poe stories. I CAN’T WAIT!! I LOVE POE!! LOVE!!!

Exciting thing about next weekend: I will be driving up to Eau Claire with my youngest sister to hang with Samantha all weekend. We might go “floating” down the river if it’s warm. Otherwise we’ll drive to the Mall of America and spend Saturday shopping. We’ll leave kind of early on Sunday because…

Music thing next weekend: The Iraq Moratorium is presenting a benefit concert at The Coffee House(on 19th and Wisconsin) featuring my own David Kaye! He will be joined by his “band,” Chuck (aka The Electric Moustache), and local singer-songwriter Brett Kemnitz. It’s technically free, but donations will help keep this grassroots organization going. I’m really excited to hear some of David’s great songs.

Drunkest thing a couple weekends ago: David and I went to the Milwaukee Wine Festival. It was hot and drunk. We each got 10 tasting samples, but David only had like, 4 of his. So I had 16. Wait no, I had 15 and gave the last ticket to a cute couple. My order of 5 of my favorite wines will be coming in this week to my local Sendiks. YUMMY!!!

David, having TONS OF FUN playing the musical bench outside of Discovery World.

FUN, can’t you tell?

He was SO not amused

But I was!

Pretty!!

Afterwards we went out for sushi with Sandy, Jeff, and Jac.

It’s weird getting drunk in the middle of the afternoon. I think I started getting a hangover after dinner. Everything was blurry.

We all enjoyed this signage FAIL next to Japanica

Ahhh, good times.

Sunday Love

August 25, 2008

I have been needing a Sunday like this for a long time. It was a little bit of heaven that will keep me going through the week. David and I have been pretty busy lately, and haven’t been able to spend much quality time with each other. I can never get enough, but this weekend was pretty awesome for our couple time.

Sunday was almost magical. Simple, but wonderful.

David and I had been out late the night before, and so we slept in. It was noon before we were heading out the door. We (David) had made up a game relating to Obama’s Vice Presidential pick. Who he picked would determine what we would do. For example, if he had picked Sebelius, we would have rented a paddleboat down by the lake. If he somehow picked Clinton, we would have had to go to Great America! He picked Biden, and so we were supposed to build a fort in our living room, have an indoor picnic in there, and watch a scary movie.

Well, upon walking out to the car, I decided it was way too nice out to spend the day inside. I said we should have our picnic outside, by the lake. David didn’t seem over the moon about the idea, but he agreed. We decided to build our fort next weekend and watch a scary movie. We figured we’d drive to Whole Foods and buy our entire picnic lunch from there. Pricey? Yes, but delicious.

We wandered the aisles, tasting samples, and trying to pick which goodies to fill our cart with. When we tried some barbecued beef brisket, we knew we had to get those sandwiches. We steered our cart through the rest of the store, picking up grapes, Terra Crinkles Garlic Mashed potato chips, a tiny $3 piece of 10 year Wisconsin aged cheddar, a couple iced teas, and the best “healthy” cookies I’ve ever tasted, Grace’s Best Sunflower Seed Cookies.

From there, we drove down to the lakefront to look for the perfect picnic spot. We wanted to be a little secluded, and we needed some shade. The lakefront was pretty crowded, and where it wasn’t, it was smelly. We took a turn up towards Lake Park Bistro, thinking we’d find a spot at the top of the hill, overlooking the lake. Instead we made a right, towards the baseball diamond and big picnic areas. It was practically deserted.

We popped the trunk, hoping we had some sort of blanket back there (when we left the house, we weren’t really sure what we were doing, and so we didn’t prep at all). We had a sleeping bag and a big beach towel/blanket. We walked to a big tree in the middle of the grass and spread out our blankets. The sleeping bag gave us a little cushion against the ground.

This is when the magic really started. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was peeking through the branches of the tree, warming us, and a cool breeze kept us from getting hot. Our food was so delicious. We ate our sandwiches, and snacked on the rest while David read to me. He started reading the book Ender’s Game out loud to me a couple weeks ago. I had always meant to read that book, but never got around to it. So far, it’s pretty great! We stretched out on our blankets and I relaxed as his words poured over me. It was fantastic.

Except for ONE thing.

The spiders. There were several of them throughout our stay in the park. I was laying on my back, my head propped up on an extra blanket, and I saw movement. I looked down, and there was a SPIDER. ON MY BOOB. Sweet baby Jesus. I screamed about it and David was kind enough to remove it. Ick!! I hate spiders, and am terrified of them. I know I was out in THEIR territory, but any spider that came onto our safe haven of civilization, was quickly removed. Fortunately, after boob spider, none were quite as shocking.

Other than THAT, it was just awesome. Time seemed to stand still for us. David read a couple chapters to me, and we lay around, talking and holding hands and smiling. It was sick, really. There was hardly anyone near us. It was like we were in our own little world. We even moved the blanket so that my side was in a patch of sun, and his side was in the shade. I cuddled in his “nook,” in the sun, as he finished one last chapter for me.

When we finally decided we should get going, it was only just after 3:00. What?! We had only been there for a couple hours. It felt like so much longer, in the best possible way. It felt like time had slowed down, so we could enjoy hours and hours with each other, without the whole day being gone.

In the last 20 minutes or so of us laying there, a family had come to the picnic tables nearby. A mom, dad, a boy of about 10, and an (I’m assuming) adopted girl of about 4. I watched them as Dad ran around with the kids, playing frisbee. He and his son were teaching the daughter how to throw it and catch it. I saw her make a catch and she ran around cheering about it. David and I watched them play as we walked back to our car, arm in arm. It was one of the most adorable moments I’ve seen. I may have gotten a little teary eyed, thinking about taking our future family to a park for a late summer picnic. Of course we don’t know what our plans are for kids yet, but I can imagine us having a family that looks very similar to that one.

To anyone else, it was just a picnic. To us, it was the best day we’ve had in a long time.

The rest of the day was nice, but the memories of those couple hours will be with me for a long time. While curled up in bed, David asked me a question. We have been having some religious discussions for a while. He is very much NOT religious, but has been feeling that he wants to believe in something. I’ve been telling him about the things that I believe. Especially about heaven. He asked if that was what heaven was like. I thought about the love and warmth and peace that I felt out there. Yes, minus the spiders, yes, that is what heaven is like.

Persian Girls

July 2, 2008

I just finished this book on my lunch break today.

It was heart-breaking and eye-opening.

One of the critic quotes reads, “Nahid Rachlin’s memoir reads like a novel- suspenseful, vivid, heartbreaking.” I definitely agree with those three adjectives. I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to find out the whole story and to understand what her current perspectives are.

I did find, however, that it seemed autobiographical almost to a fault. There are some details that are glazed over and some time periods that are ignored. I was left wanting to learn even more. Of course, that would have made the book three times as long, I’m sure. The way it is written, and the story she tells, makes me trust her facts and opinions. It doesn’t seem like she made up any details to replace things that she didn’t know or remember. I can respect that very much.

To that effect, the reader is left only with what the author knows. And it’s unfinished in some ways. The final line of the book almost sent tears down my face. Somehow, after everything she went through, she was strong enough to write truthfully about her life.

What was personally interesting to me, was comparing the timeline of events to what I know of my father’s life. Nahid (I feel like she’s my friend after reading this, so we’re on a first-name basis now.) is older than my dad, but as she recalls events, I can try imagine where he was in his life at that time.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, but it seems like they sent my dad and is brother to the US in the nick of time. The Iranian revolution happened in 1979 and it was right around that time that he came to the US. As the revolution continued, travel and communication between the US and Iran was nearly impossible. My dad was in high school during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. In his first year there (in Adam’s Friendship, WI) he says he was a novelty. He was elected as homecoming king! But then things got very tense. The hostages were held for over a year and between hearing my dad’s stories and reading this book, things were not very good or easy for Iranians in the US at this time.

Another critic quote that I found to be accurate was this, “Hers is one of the voices that must be heard if Iranians and Americans are ever to understand each other.”Oh, this one gets me. Iranians are not bad people. Just as Americans are not bad people. But does each culture have some evil wackjobs? YES!

Her story starts in the 1950s. She talks about Iran oil and how people from other countries worked in refineries and other jobs. Most of them were American or British. The Shah at the time wanted to be modern and Westernized, but this caused a backlash among Iranian citizens. And I can’t really blame them. Americans and British were taking over jobs and money that an Iranian could work and earn. Earlier, Americans and British helped create a government police force that put the Shah into power and helped keep him there. They would execute those who dared speak out against him, and that kept getting worse as they gained more and more power.

In 1979 Khomeini took power and pulled Iran back into it’s religious roots. It seems to me that he got rid of all the good things the Shah did (like women’s rights, more religious freedom) and expanded on the bad (state controlled media, increased police power). No one Nahid talked to in the book was happy. They talked in hushed tones about how the current situation wasn’t what they fought and hoped for.

The government still presses down on people in Iran. They have the so-called “Moral Police.” If a man and woman are walking hand-in-hand, it is well within their rights to stop them and demand to see documents proving they are married, for that is the only way that behavior is allowed. It is my belief and understanding that very few people in Iran want to live like that. Times are changing. In my dad’s pictures from his trip to Iran, there are very few women who dare to wear anything but dark colors outside, and they always observe hejab, or the head scarf to cover their hair. But in the privacy of their own home, it’s another story. The scarf comes off and the bright, modern clothes shine.

I felt intensely connected to this book. The stories she shares are beautiful, although sometimes a little shocking (especially related to women’s rights and marriage). I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone just looking for a summer read, but I think her perspectives and opinions as an Iranian American are interesting, informative, and invaluable. Maybe now, more than ever.