Hello My Beloved Journal Pals,
Thank you as always for your continued friendship and support through the many ups and downs -- the roller coaster that is my life. A wonderful thing happened the morning after my last post. The person, the incredibly kind and super compassionate person, who had contacted me after he/she found me on the Internets ; ) and was shocked to learn that the family (I'm just gonna pick a sex here, okay?), she was close to for so many years had a lost sister, called me. She hadn't had a chance to respond to my e-mail but when she read my journal she felt bad for me and decided to call.
What a huge relief. I really was freaking out. I mean she had come out of the blue saying that she knew my family and was just blown away when she learned about me, felt sorry for me, and wanted to help if she could. It took me a while to find her e-mail, then I wrote back, she wrote back, I wrote back, and then I was on pins and needles waiting to hear from her again.
At the same time that this was happening, I decided to Google my brother and sisters -- a kind of masochistic thing I've been doing pretty regularly for years now -- and that's when I discovered that the one sister I haven't spoken to, the one I'd been dying to meet because she seems the most like me, had found an old search request of mine that I'd put up on auctionsearch.com, (I think that's the site), and replied to it. She said that she hadn't known I existed, which means that my Mother and sister had kept my existence a secret from her, (this just blows my mind, how this birth family of mine can live like this, keeping such primary, vital, secrets from each other), she had only just found out about me while surfing the net, and didn't know anything more than my birth date. There was a link to her e-mail, but you have to write to the person through the site, in order to keep things confidential, so I've written, three times, and haven't heard back : (
I am so relieved to have heard from my kind new friend though. Her phone call helped me so much since I was beginning to feel super paranoid and beginning to think she might be my sister pretending to be someone else, but she definitely isn't, she's just a kind, compassionate person, who having read a few of my adoption related entries, took pity on me and reached out to help. I can't tell you how grateful I am for this. Just to be in contact with one person who lives on the other side of the country and who knows my story and knows a little bit about my family means the world to me.
Tomorrow is my Persian friends', the Sartippours, biggest holiday of the year. It's Norouz -- their new year. Persians, or Muslims celebrate the first day of spring by setting up a special table in their homes, where they lay out their finest tablecloth, (usually something very expensive with lots of gold embroidery), and then adorn it with traditional symbols of luck and Spring. They put seven things that begin with the letter S, and some other traditional lucky things on it. There are apples, grass that they grown themselves and that you trim while making a wish, vinegar, hyacinth bulbs, goldfish, coins, herbs, eggs, special pastries, a beautiful antique mirror, and photographs of family members who have passed away -- usually the oldest family members, oh and of course the Koran.
They wear new clothes and everyone goes to visit their relatives and friends in order of their age, so the grandparents are honored with visitors first. Then they have a wonderful meal and the elder people give the younger people gifts, sometimes money. Their calendar is much older than ours and is totally different -- Atra has the hardest time when I ask her to tell me everyone's birthdays because she has to convert them from her calendar to ours -- and their New Year isn't like ours -- where it's the same time every year, tomorrow their new year happens at four am which is the moment it becomes Spring, so they'll all stay up and watch Iranian TV tonight and then tomorrow we're invited for lunch.
I've spent the last couple of days buying presents for everyone. It's like having two Christmases, and Atra's family is BIG. Of course they always tell me not to give them anything, but I could never do that. I adore all of them and I love giving presents waaaay too much, plus Atra's Mother loves getting them, she's like a little girl when it comes to giving and receiving gifts so how could I let her down?
I bought rhinestone tiara's for Atra, and her sister Maryam's, daughters, Amita and Guilan, and perfume and sparkly, sweet-smelling, Dior lip gloss for them as well. Their brother Aryamen, Atra's husband Arta, and Atra's brother Kourosh, all get cologne.
I bought Maryam three of those expanding, paper-organizing folders, a-z, monthly, and numerical, a fun new stapler that works without staples, and a really nice Waterman pen, because she keeps all of the family's paperwork, and it's scattered all over her room, and she is forever at a loss as to how to organize all of it. Atra got her favorite cologne, BY, by Dolce and Gabana, and something else, oh yeah these pearls I have that she loves. I also bought perfume for their two friends who will be there.
For Mommy Ghodsi I bought so much, but she's seventy and in poor health and I want to do whatever I can for her while she's still here with us. Her heart is in bad shape, she's had major open heart surgery, she has diabetes, high blood pressure, she's short of breath, weak, she had to have major knee surgery on both of her knees, and can't walk very well, she's in pain most of the time and gets dizzy, well, you get the picture. So she got or gets two bottles of perfume, Kenzo because I love the bottle -- I so hope I haven't already given it to her before, I'm so ditzy it's entirely possible -- and I had to buy perfume from Estee Lauder because, for some weird reason, she thinks it's really cool. I've always though of it as being a kind of middling brand, but she adores it, so I got a gift with purchase, and a purchase with purchase, and she'll be surrounded with her favorite brand. I also bought a coffee table book with pictures of her city Rasht, because I know how much she misses home, and a couple of coins with the Shah on them.
Poor little fishies.
The only thing I don't like about this holiday is the whole goldfish thing. It seems to me that people buy these goldfish without really knowing how to take care of them. They use chlorinated tap water without conditioning it, put the poor fish in pretty containers that are mainly meant to be decorative as opposed to functional or comfortable for the fish. Some of the people I spoke with don't even feed the fish or change their water. Then they wait a certain amount of time and release them somewhere where they will almost certainly die. The whole thing just kills me.
I've worked things out pretty well with my pals -- fish-wise -- by buying them a Beta and teaching them how to take care of him. They still have the same fish from last year and are amazed that a fish from one Norouz is still alive for the next. This has never happened for them before, that's how sad this whole situation is for the poor fish.
Last weekend I went to this Norouz festival at the church near my house and I just couldn't bear to see the poor fish in these incredibly small containers sucking at the air because there wasn't any in the water for them to breathe. So, animal-love-sap that I am, I brought NINE goldfish home, and now we have this aquarium in our kitchen that I have to stress out over. Esther said, "Oh Jacqui, I just know that these fish are going to die and you're going to be crying." Then the very next day one of the fish died, the biggest, prettiest one, and I had to take him out of the tank, and was so sad. I looked at his beautiful, shiny-gold body and felt such sadness that he had to die when just the smallest amount of compassion and education would have saved his life.
How can this tradition that is so important to them be handled so casually? If the fish are symbols of luck then why don't they do everything they can to ensure their health and comfort? I can't tell you how many people I've spoken with who've said, "Oh yes, it's so sad, always the fish, they die." Today, when I went off hunting for coins, I went to my favorite Persian market and they were giving away free goldfish to anyone coming out of the store as if they were lollipops. "Thank you for shopping with us. Happy New Year. Here's your bag of fish."
There was a man sitting on a crate with a bucket of fish, a cup, and plastic bags in front of him. There were hundreds of goldfish in this bucket, they were all fighting to get to the top of the bucket, gulping at the air, and it made me furious because I felt so totally helpless. I stood there for a while trying to help these fish by telling people that they need to condition the water and feed them, because of course there was no fish food in sight, and then it just seemed so futile, so I turned my back on these suffering fish and walked sadly to my car. I could have taken a free bag of them but where on earth would I put another seven or eight fish in this house full of cats?
Isn't this sad?
My birthday is next Tuesday and rather than wait for someone to plan something nice for me, which never happens, whine, whine, whine, I decided to toss the rules to the winds and plan something for myself. I'm having a few close friends over to a local restaurant that I love. I'm renting the party room upstairs and we'll just have a nice vegetarian Italian dinner together. I wish I could invite everyone I know but there is a fire department limit on how many people we can fit into this tiny little room.
Buki, (Charles Bukowski), and Malibu, two of my favorite cats, are sitting on my lap, making it hard to type. Buki is our oldest cat and I love him so much. He was a breeder cat who got passed around from one family to another before we finally adopted him. He was/is toothless, covered with weird scabby freckles and had/has a heart murmor. He had spent so much of his life in little boxes that when he got here he didn't know what to do with all of the space and would pace back and forth. I'm happy to say that he doesn't do this anymore but his scabs, that are mainly on his face, are so much worse.
After so much time and effort, we've finally managed to obtain the rare and extremely expensive cream, that Buki needs. It costs three hundred whopping dollars for the tiniest amount -- seriously, and he's going to need this for SIXTEEN WEEKS! It's more expensive than gold and I don't know how I'm going to afford it. I may have to put up a donation site at some point because he really needs it, (this skin condition is pre-cancerous and without this cream he may die), and even if I don't give anyone anything again, or spend another dime on eBay, it's still going to break me. I don't know how people do this -- I guess they don't have as many animal expenses as we do.
Beau went to his first sweet sixteen party on Friday. His friend Angie, who is older than he is, invited him to the local Holiday Inn for dinner and dancing. He was so nervous about the whole thing and asked my advice about pretty much everything. It was so sweet watching my usually slovenly boy act more like the young man that he is. He put on dress pants and a white shirt with a collar -- which is a big deal for Beau who pretty much only wears black tee-shirts from Hot Topic, and ripped up pants and shorts that are covered with chains and stains. I bought a little mini tiara, some lip gloss, and some dangly, red, rhinestone earrings for him to give to his friend.
He refused to go in by himself so I went with him. The party was on the top floor and we would have been able to find it if were blind because it was so damned loud. Angie had hired these DJs who brought this LOUD system that made it impossible, seriously, for anyone to speak to each other. I know this makes me seem old, but why do kids do this at their parties? Loud is cool, really loud is okay, but so loud that it damages your hearing and makes it impossible to be heard just seems like bad party planning.
Angie has grown up so much since the last time she came over that Beau didn't even recognize her. All of the girls at the party looked so sexy and adult. They all seemed so ready to take on life, while the poor guys just sort of stood around looking gangly and awkward. You should have seen these girls grinding on the dance floor, mostly dancing with each other because the guys were too shy. When Angie saw Beau she grabbed the mic and yelled, "Everybody say Hi Beau...." He was so anxious and uncomfortable that we were barely there fifteen minutes before he wanted to go. I offered to come back whenever he wanted, or to go wait in the bar for a while, but he just couldn't handle the clubby, dark, party scene and wanted to go. Afterwards he asked me for dance tips and while I did the best I could, I told him that the best person to ask about this would be his Dad, and his aunt Tina -- the Carrillos are all such good dancers.
I went to see The Upside of Anger by myself last night and really liked it.
And what is with this weather, this rain? It just never seems to end. We're in the midst of another rainstorm that is expected to last until next Thursday. I really love the rain, but of course I feel sorry for all of the people who are impacted by this in a negative way, like construction workers who can't work, people whose homes are threatened, even the dogs who can't go play at the park. Maybe it'll stop...