Sunday, February 10, 2008

Last night's epiphany

I realized that although I may seem like I'm comfortable in the fact that my music taste is so varied, I still however, on a much deeper level, feel a sense of isolation from the rest of the world because I enjoy Assyrian music so much.

It hit me that, Assyrian music is a product of the world, it is a part of it. There is no shame in the fact that hearing it makes my personality change and my very heart sing.

I didn't even know how to speak Assyrian most of my life. I knew a couple of words here and there but that was it, all my thoughts were in English. I still carry with me an Anglo mind on top of an Assyrian heart.

Then for some reason, when I was seventeen years old, I found our old cassette tapes. I listened to them over and over again. I remembered the short time we spent in Illinois when I was five years old. For the first time in my life I felt a deeply painful and nostalgic sorrow.

I grew up in Los Angeles where the Assyrian community isn't as tightly-knit as those of Illinois and central California or the communities of Canada and Australia. I lived in Glendale for 19 years, which as you all know is a huge Armenian community. I was a smaller minority among a larger one.

Before Glendale and before Chicago, my family lived in Kuwait where my brothers and I were born. In Kuwait my family had more Kuwaiti, Indian, and American friends than Assyrian ones. In retrospect, I see that there must have been some cosmic purpose in my being taken to Chicago among Assyrians for a very short period of time. I spent only a year and a half among Assyrians my entire life.

In Glendale I was invisible. Although I had a lot of great, Armenian friends it was still awkward. A lot of Armenians accused me of lying about being Armenian. It's like they'd rather believe I was an Armenian traitor as opposed to the bigger sin of not being Armenian.

So, at 17 my obsession with Assyrian music began and it slowly built up to what it is today. Now I can't go a day without hearing an Assyrian song. It's usually in the car and I sing along so loudly and I even dance a little.

Because of Assyrian music I realized who I am, I learned to speak Assyrian wonderfully, and I've even learned to read and write it.

All Assyrian songs are beautiful to me, and they're all so different.

The painful nostalgia will always be there when I hear an old song, even in my eighties. Always there, reminding my nomadic, isolated heart of a time and place long ago where I wasn't the only one enjoying this beautiful music, everyone else around me was too.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'm looking at how beautiful you are,
but you don't even realize it.
You don't realize I'm watching you
and you don't realize how beautiful you are.
Maybe when you are at home
in the safe depths of your bathroom
you are suddenly reminded
that you are beautiful,
and it makes you smile back at the mirror.

But you forget two minutes later
but you are not sad.
You are very happy not being beautiful.
The world is still home.

I want to let down your hair,
put eyeliner and lipstick on you
and dress you in a lovely gown
(everything else is lovely, only you are beautiful)
worthy of a movie star
and kiss you on the forehead.

But that would defile you.
It is in your unmade face
and that t-shirt and jeans
whence you exude your glory,
by the world.

Maybe you know.
But you wouldn't bury your face in bioengineering textbooks like you are right now
if you did.
If you always remembered your beauty,
the world to you
would be an endless array of cleared tabletops for you to dance on
as men worshipped you, Lakshmi
and as women looked on in an innocent jealousy
and longed
to be like you.

I want to cradle you in my arms like a child
and beg you
to never forget that you are beautiful,
not when you leave the bathroom,
and not when you read your big scary books.

And like your mother
I pray that everyone who sees you
knows as I know
that you are a dancing beauty.

It is you that needs to be told what you are.
You, the one who is not hiding behind a mask
of chemicals and dyes.
You have earned worship.

It would terrify both you and I
for me to get up and tell you right now
how much you shine.
Or maybe I would be the only one terrified.
Maybe you would shyly and humbly welcome my admiration
and glow and smile all day long.

It is my own shame stopping me.
For this, I will have to live
with all of my life
the misery
of not bowing in the presence of Lakshmi.

In all of my experience with the ill

I've come to the conclusion that illness is a direct physical manifestation of taking life too seriously.

It doesn't matter what illness it is, no matter who it is that is ill, and what they do for a living, or if they're a man or a woman or child...when talking to them you learn that they've held onto some form of negativity in their minds about people or life. You learn that they've placed too much importance on people and the process we call "living".

I've learned this after a lot of hard work...which is probably why my work in helping the sick has come to an end. It is time for me to use this lesson and move on.

Illness is an illusion. It is a phantom presence. It slams doors and throws lamps across the room to get your attention but in reality, it is more afraid of you than you are of it.