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Monday, 30 December 2013

Untitled

How difficult it is to let go completely
When I still hear your laugh echoing in my head
And I long for a reply to a post I wrote
I long for the phone calls that would never end
I keep going over our last everythings
Angry that I thought there would be more to spare
Sorry that I acted like we had forever
Even selfish, at times, to not really care
And now...
And now time cannot erase
Though the mind begs it to
What was or wasn't said and done
So the only choice left to do
Is let go of you
But how difficult it is to let go completely
When your laughter still echoes..

Monday, 14 October 2013

Miley Cyrus: Yes I'm even talking about her.

It won't be what you expect so give this article a chance! Miley Cyrus has been all over the news lately, with every self-important asshole (including me) weighing in on her actions and what it all means for future generations. However I, unlike most of the self-important assholes out there, think she's hitting the right nervous buttons, which is why everyone is talking about her. The truth is that we are still living in a society that doesn't view men and women to be sexually equal. It is amazing how many people I saw on Facebook post Sinead O'Conner's "Open Letter to Miley," which essentially calls her a prostitute and assumes that all executive decisions about Miley's career are made by older pedophiles. That's a bit unfair, isn't it?

Is it really hard for our society to think that perhaps a twenty year old girl chooses to openly show her sexuality and be unapologetic for it? Why must there always be an older predatory man behind it all. I'm not saying that the music business isn't jaded and that, unfortunately, this kind of thing doesn't happen where younger girls are abused and thrown away when they are no longer relevant. Of course it does. But the point is that people are so quick to assume that that must be the case in every situation, because girls are known as innocent beings who cannot possibly possess a need to be openly sexual unless forced into doing so. 

What is more amusing is that all of this talk about her sexuality came about from a performance that wasn't even all that sexual. She wore the most outrageous outfit with the silliest hair, and somehow that made her into a whore? I doubt she was going for "sexy."  Now imagine a naked guy with the same hair and silly bear outfit. Why is that funny, but Miley's rendition of it is sexual? It's incredibly sad that a woman gets so much scrutiny for her actions, especially when it has to do with her taking chances, and being a bit outrageous. Not all women have to be classy, nor do they have to be covered up completely or naked completely, they don't have to be apologetic, or humble, or submissive, or dominant, or or or...

The idea of equality isn't about making a mold of a woman that is ideal for one person. It's about allowing room for all of the different possibilities without looking down upon them. It's about letting people figure themselves out without forcing them into a category of "right" or "wrong", especially when it has to do with self-identity. 

Monday, 30 September 2013

A Dance With Nothing



The freedom to be nothing
To be with Nothing?
Print by Nilou Afshar
www.nilouafshar.com
We make eye contact
In an empty room
Back and forth and back
Nothing and I share this dance
And in this moment
I have Nothing, and Nothing has me
Nothing holds me as we move
Back and forth, on and on
Intoxicated by the beat of the drum
Oh what a lover Nothing is to me
For it knows our love is temporary
And yet, it also knows that one day I will return
For nothing burns the way Nothing burns
Holding me, scolding me
Tossing and turning me
Nothing, a silent lover 
Who gives me a chance
And we, together and alone
Share this dance



Friday, 27 September 2013

Real Talk and Self Pity

How do people know what they're good at? I look at some people and they just know what they want and how to get it. They're always active, always doing something, achieving some goal. Even the ones that don't necessarily know what they want still seem to have their heads on straighter than me. Is it this society's obsession with presenting an inflated image of themselves that's got me feeling less than capable? It's strange because I was at a friend's birthday party the other day, and another friend of mine confessed that he thought I was doing everything right and that he looked up to me. I found that so fucking odd because I wondered what he saw in me that I just don't see in myself. I feel like I haven't done anything right. I've lived twenty five years and I have nothing to show for it. Just a few words on a page that no one reads anyway.

Have I become unbearably lazy? I know a lot of people say that about me, and mostly it's to my face. There's definitely some truth to it, but I see the way I work when I have a vision that's clear, and honestly I can work at something all day long. I've been applying to "real jobs" lately. It doesn't help to look at an application, read the job description and feel like you aren't qualified for anything. Real talk man, real talk. Hell, I can't even get a serving job, and I have plenty of experience with serving and different customer service related work. Yeah I'm probably feeling a little too bad for myself. I've got a void that I don't know how to fill. Most days I accept it, but sometimes it makes me anxious and I need to get it out.

So that's that. C'est la vie.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

I Can Feel You


I can feel you in the wind
You're the tear drop that drops down my chin
You're the sweet flower that blooms in the spring
I am bound to you by the joy you bring
You're every rain drop that drops on my head
Burried in my heart to the very end
For you are the colour in my life
You're the sharpness of a knife
You're the sweet touch that touches my soul
And you are the love I'll never let go

Friday, 20 September 2013

Disappointed, But Still Motivated!

As I was coming home today, I encountered a woman in her late sixties, and she had dyed her hair purple, a deep lilac, which I love. It was such a beautiful colour and it suited it her quite well. I found myself itching to tell her how beautiful it was, but we were on the subway and she was sitting so far away from me. By the time I had thought of wanting to do this, up to the point when I had to leave the train, I had already thought about it too much, making myself incredibly self-conscious. I had the usual worries of seeming creepy, even though I was going to give her a compliment, which I'm sure she would have appreciated. But the mind plays tricks on you, and unfortunately I let my mind win.

It got me thinking that sometimes we are all too self-conscious. I'm not this way all the time, and when I let myself be impulsive on some occasions, I end up feeling really good about it. Why not take a chance to connect to someone? To let them know that they caught your eye and that we aren't all just moving objects trying to get from location A to B. It made me want to make more of an effort with strangers. Conversations with strangers are sometimes the funnest to have because there are no expectations. Honestly, it can feel really good to leave your mark on someone you don't know and will probably never see again, even for a moment, and to let them leave their mark on you.

In this moment of sudden inspiration to be more connected, I thought to myself "from now on I'm going to smile at anyone who makes eye contact with me." Naturally, I came back to my senses and thought "fuck that." Obviously I'm not going to actually smile at everyone that makes eye contact with me, because I don't want to attract all the crazies (which I end up doing enough as is) but at least I thought about it. So I suppose lesson numero due would be: Everyone is a dickhead, but a lot of the times when you're nice to people they are nice back, unless they are super dickheads, in which case you can flip them the finger and tell them to go fuck a duck. Again, you are welcome.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Random thoughts

I haven't written a blog in a while, partly because I've experience many changes in the past few weeks, but mostly because I'm beginning to censor myself again. I'm not sure why this happens, but I get into a mood where I think that what I'm saying isn't worth mentioning. But the good news is that I end up getting over it and realize that I never had anything to say that was worth mentioning, but I said it anyway. So because I have nothing significant to say, I think I will do a little rant. Free flow that shit.

You know what I can't stand? Nothing. I stand everything. That's not true, I'm not that patient. I can't stand people who don't leave the door open for you when they clearly see you walking RIGHT behind them. They just open it enough for themselves and keep on walking. Fucking pricks. It's especially annoying when you're holding a bunch of heavy bags. I also can't stand it when people pass you on the sidewalk to walk in front of you, only to walk much slower than you were walking. What the fuck? Why??? It's funny because based on the shit that pisses me off, I feel like if I were a driver, I'd have really bad road rage. However, since I am not a driver, I only have sidewalk rage. Is that even a thing? It should be because I have it.

People are so strange. They always seem to get in each other's way, but that's only because we all tend to think that we are the center of the universe. I know some people like to think they're selfless like that, but they're just lying to themselves. Everyone always thinks that bad shit only happens to them, and when it does they calm their nerves by saying "karma's a bitch! That asshole will get what (s)he deserves." Whenever I hear such a phrase, it always fascinates me that people don't associate something bad that's happened to them with karma kicking them in the ass for being dickheads. Basically the conclusion of this rant is: everyone's a dickhead. Life lessons from Banafshé. You are welcome.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Cigarette Lingers

I wrote this poem many years ago, but it's one of my favourites.


The smell of cigarettes and sex lingers
In my head, bed sheets, sweat
Instantly I regret
Not saying what I should have said
But there was no need to speak
The room wreaked
Of unspoken words
Scars and hurts
And who did it first
Who entered who?
I entered you
Yes through your head and sweat
The stench of silence,
You cant forget
You entered me physically mentally
Fast but gently
you pushed and pulled
Too hot, too cold
All but a memory now
Yet I feel it somehow
The smell of cigarettes and sex lingers
Your sweat was on me
Clinging stinging seeping through my skin
Deeper and deeper in
So loud,
Profound
In the moment
Handed you my life to be left open
Serenaded by your kiss on my chest
Emptiness, you took the rest
And yet the cigarette lingers...



Saturday, 24 August 2013

Breathing Colours

Moments pass and I find myself staring off. I'm seeing but I'm not looking, for my eyes don't focus on anything. But they blur colours and shapes all into one. Memories race like the images in a window of a moving car, and suddenly I feel guilty for not giving each of them the time they deserve.

It is in these moments that I remind myself to be aware of my surroundings. I remind myself that I'm breathing and as I inhale, first my stomach, and then my chest begin to slowly rise. I close my eyes and I imagine myself sitting as I am. With each inhale, I imagine a stream of colours going through my nostrils, down my throat. As they fill up my lungs, I feel my heart pumping the colourful stream into every inch of my body. I am filled with colour. And so I exhale.

First my chest, and then my stomach begin to descend as the colour exits through my mouth, surrounding and embarrassing my skin. I open my eyes and I see that colours, and shapes are no longer blurred all into one, but each of them have their own place. I no longer think of memories for my mind is still. I am simply happy to be aware and to feel the love of a rhythm, energy, vibration, connection greater than my own. It is the rhythm, energy, vibration, and connection of everyone combined into one, and I know that I am lucky to be a part of it.


Choose or Lose



In the depths of my soul
I know I can't let go
Of the past that was
Because
I'm so wrapped up
And tangled up
You must know
How I feel
The need to peel
Away the weight
Of memories
That come too late
In the night
In the core of my being
I look but I'm not seeing
That I've trapped myself
In the deepest hell
I was told to let go
But I cling on
To nothing
Slowly rotting
And I'm growing restless
Can but then can't help this
Feeling of loss
But I must
Take it slow
I know you know
How hard it can be
You're the one who told me
To make a choice
That I have to chose
Or else I lose
Everything that's in the depths of my soul
I know the time's come for me to let go.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Stronger Girls, Sensitive Boys

I've been thinking a lot about the way people raise or want to raise their children. So often I've heard my own peers talk about the way their treatment of their child would differ if they had a girl versus a boy, and sometimes I find it breaking my heart. In their remarks, there lies a subtle double standard that I'm not sure they always realize is there. Or even more astonishing is that sometimes they do realize it but accept it as a part of life; it is what it is and it can't be helped. Girls are more difficult to have because they are fragile and so easily hurt and taken advantage of, and so must be protected. On the other hand, boys are simple because they are not emotionally as complex, and therefore are not hard to understand or deal with. Both of these opinions trouble me a great deal because I find myself asking: What kind of people do we want to raise? And are we aware that our thoughts about raising girls versus boys can impact the way they view themselves and their own limitations and abilities?

It's always been my thinking that girls shouldn't be treated as fragile creatures that are at risk of having their virginity stolen. A girl should grow up with the understanding that she needs to protect her own body, but that taking certain risks and sometimes getting hurt are also a part of growing up. Recently I read a blogger's letter to his daughter, and I loved the sentiment of the letter because it was about setting a girl free to discover her sexuality and to understand that, no, she is not a victim to other people's sexual desires simply because she has a vagina. The idea of constantly watching over girls, pampering them, setting stricter rules and curfews is ridiculous to me. If it's a tough world out there, then a girl deserves to experience it and learn from it just as much as a boy. This builds character, confidence, and a sense of control. It's also always bothered me that when two heterosexual teenagers engage in a sexual act, we view the girl as the one who is being taken advantage of. How are you so sure that she isn't also taking advantage of him? Why is it not viewed as a learning experience for the both of them? The boy is getting what he wants, and the girl is oblivious and too naive to understand what is going on. *rolling my eyes*

This is the solution: Just mix them all up
in a genderless pot.
On the flip side, the double standard created between girls and boys isn't fair for boys either. It's insulting to think that a person is incapable of being emotionally complex simply because he has a penis. I understand that sometimes, due to hormonal changes, males and females have different reactions to situations, especially as teenagers. I simply mean to highlight that the way we view them to be that extremely different from birth also has an impact on how they will react and grow. "Oh a boy needs to be toughened up" Sometimes yes, as I have argued that this is equally necessary for girls, but sometimes no. A boy also needs to learn to be sensitive and to respect the importance of communication in a relationship. These are tools that are extremely important for his future when he decides to engage in a more intimate relationship with a partner(s). I don't think fathers and sons have enough heart to heart conversations. "Boys don't do that" But why? Communication and being in tune with your emotions is a part of being an adult because that's the only way that most problems can be solved in a mature and civilized way.

I suppose it all comes down to balance. I understand that it's easy to have an opinion about such things when you're not a parent, but these thoughts are important to me. If I do ever become a parent I want to have a girl who knows that she is strong, and whose strength I can see in the way that she stands and looks people in the eye. I want a boy who is able to be sensitive and nurturing when it's important, a boy who knows how to share his feelings at a time when his partner needs to hear it most. But most of all, I want to have children who know who they are, and do not feel limited by their physical appearances, understanding that a person's anatomy will never determine what they can and cannot accomplish.



Monday, 5 August 2013

One Moment

I have written so many drafts about different topics, but haven't published them because I've gotten it into my head again that I have nothing worth writing about. The truth is that none of us have anything new to contribute to the world. I think the answers are all out there, but it's the information we choose to take in, highlight in our lives, and arrange in combinations that make our need to create unique. So no I have nothing new to contribute to anybody's mind, and certainly not to my own, but writing makes me feel better and I have a way of expressing my thoughts that seems to be somewhat interesting for some people.

However, since I'm quite bored of my own opinion and haven't been reading enough to be motivated to write about anything, I will once again take the easy way out and share another poem. This is an old poem I wrote at least six or seven years ago. I wanted to make a tongue twister, or something like that. I wrote it at the place I used to work (Casa Loma represent!) Enjoy, or don't.

Patty ponders and wonders
How much longer her lover
Will linger onto her finger
Like a string or a bee's stinger?
Wickedly waiting for the delicate destiny
of her final fantasy.
His luscious, delicious and viciously gracious lips locked around
Patty's pouting and wounding and rounding mouth.
Together they are completely obscene and insane
In the most loving way.
Patty's puzzle fits exactly with his lips
And the kiss.. ever lasting, ever grasping, both reflecting

"Nothing's better than this"

Monday, 22 July 2013

Thank Your Body

Those who live in the past feel depressed, those who live in the future feel anxious, but those who can master the skill of living in the present feel peace. This is a skill I wish to master because I am constantly moving from the past to the future and in these thoughts I lose myself completely. I lose time, I lose a sense of self, I lose my mind eventually and I am left with nothing.

I was talking to my grandma the other day, and she mentioned an idea that I've thought about many times, and have actually also experienced. It's the idea of being aware and present. To remind yourself that when you are looking at a tree, it's not just an image, but it's right there in front you, moving, living, connecting with its environment. Or when your hand touches your face, it's not by accident, but it's something that you made it do, and it's your hand that touches your skin. There is so much enjoyment in thinking about these images and actions, that otherwise seem trivial, with full consciousness. In that moment, you don't think about anything but the fact that you're moving, and breathing, and you're here. That in itself is something to feel peaceful about. The next minute no longer matters, and everything that's happened in the past no longer matters.

I would recommend this to everyone. Take a bit of time in your day to make yourself aware again. It's an amazing accomplishment to simply be. Sometimes I think about the biological effort my body makes every fraction of a second to breath, to have my heart beat, to exist. These are all taken for granted, when they should be appreciated. It's important to take time to thank your body for working so hard. I don't do that enough, well hardly ever to be honest, but I have days when it hits me and I am thankful for those days the most.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Friend Who Kills


Time nurtures and heals
With each breath it steals
For it is a ruthless companion
In its continuous pursuit 
Of ticking life away
From dreamers
Leading life astray
From believers
Making hopefuls hopeless
The strongest become boneless
But perhaps time has compassion
For as it ticks, it so happens
To take the pain away
From the broken 
Erase the stain 
That's unspoken
Ruthless, but truthful
A friend to those who need less of it
An enemy to those who stress from it
For it is always there for us to use 
And yet, always there for us to lose 
A friend who kills, but still a friend
A ruthless companion to the end


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Where Will We Be?

I often think of how I will be remembered years to come, if at all. I'm sure it's a thought that passes everybody's mind since we all want to be immortal in a way; to live on through our lineage, or at least through memories. I think about the process of documentation, especially when it comes to my own name. There are so many varieties that I myself get a bit confused. On my passport it is spelled Banafsheh Eshragi Azar, but in Iran my last name would actually be Eshraghi Azar, with an "h". In school, I've always spelled my Banafshé Eshragi, omitting the "h" and the "Azar" and adding an accent aigu (why? I have no idea.) It started a long enough time ago that it's become the way I'm use to signing and spelling my name whenever I'm asked.
Original manuscript 

The point is, I think of how confusing it would be for a historian years to come. Not that I expect to be researched by a historian (I'm not trying to become anyone important in life), but for whatever reason if I were to be researched, he/she'd really have a field day trying to come up with theories as to why I have so many different spellings. It's similar to reading a poem by Chaucer or Shakespeare. The spelling of words change, as well as their meanings, showing how fluid language is with its continuous evolution. I wonder if the English we speak now will be difficult to understand for people 200 years from now, the way Middle English is difficult for us to understand now. These thoughts always fascinate me.


Thursday, 13 June 2013

50 Shades of What the Fuck??

I've wanted to write my opinion about this book for some time now, and I know all of the hype has already passed and no one probably cares, but there are bigger issues to discuss within the realm of E.L. James' 50 Shades of Grey that I find worth writing about. When all of the excitement started about this seemingly sexually liberating novel, I didn't want to be left behind, so somehow I found the first novel of the trilogy online and I began to read. Luckily I'm a fast reader and therefore didn't waste too much of my time on it, although I could argue that any time spent at all is already too much.

I was appalled at the thought that an intelligent person would pay money for such an offensive book. Of course the girl must be an inexperienced virgin naively waiting to be devoured by, who could only be described as, a rich, manipulative, controlling, abusive vulture. How is this sexy again? What really got me was the inaccurate depiction of a BDSM relationship. BDSM is not about abuse and manipulation. Rather, it is about two experienced adults who know themselves sexually, and are in control of the situation, even when/if they are taking on a submissive role. This novel, on the other hand, did nothing but make domestic abuse "sexy" by romanticizing it. Oh my god... how hot that he wont let me out of his sight and gets jealous when I talk about my guy friends and decides when and where we will have sex because I am not allowed to have a life, or a mind of my own.... but at least he bribes me by flying me on his airplane because he's super rich....Are you fucking kidding me??

Not to mention that Christian's addiction to BDSM is constantly explained by a traumatic sexual experience he had as a teenager, which suggests: a) you must be fucked up to like BDSM (which is false), b) his controlling, abusive behaviour is justified by his past, therefore making it, not only okay, but appealing. Christian is described with this mysterious, "I'm really a good guy deep down inside" kind of bullshit, and Anastasia doesn't know what's going on with anything half the time, except for the fact that she's all googly eyed over him. Even if I were to forget how sexist and sexually misguiding the book is, I would never be able to forgive the horrible writing. Again, how are intelligent people reading this and enjoying it? It reads like a pubescent girl's journal. The amount of times Anastasia says "holy cow" or "oh my gosh" when she is turned on is enough to make me want to bash my head into a cement wall. Enough said.

I believe that any healthy sexual relationship consists of adults who have had their own experiences and know their own bodies and needs. It saddens me that a book taking on the veil of sexually liberating females of all ages, all around the world, presented a female character who is a blob with no back bone, and no sign of maturing intelligence. It also saddens me that different forms of sexual expression are never discussed in sex ed, when people should be educated in an healthy and safe environment, but completely welcomed by millions, when what is actually described in the book is an abusive relationship. Something here isn't right.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I hate titles

I've hit a brick wall. I feel like have so much to say but this god damn space bar doesn't work because I'm a shit disturber and I took it off my laptop thinking I could properly put it back on, so here we are now. I have to hit it so hard each time for it to work, that it slowly begins to bring my anger out. This. God. Damn. Space bar.

Besides that little mishap, life seems to be pretty good, especially since I've begun to connect/meditate once again. I feel more at peace with myself and my life for now. It's almost like I had forgotten that life could be fun, and not knowing what will happen could be exciting. These thought always used to excite me, but when it came close to actually living it out, it began to become scary. Now I feel like I'm going back to the way I was. A lot of small experiences have helped me along the way.

Going out and doing shit by myself has been helpful. After talking to different people, I came to the realization that sometimes we need to put ourselves out of our own comfort zones. It's only in these moments that we truly learn anything. Out of your comfort zone, you're more alert, more susceptible, more willing to listen and observe. It's a good place to be for improvement because, even though it's difficult, people survive it all the time and they feel better about themselves for it. So that's all I got at the moment.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

To Love a Black Bird

He was sitting on a bench in the park
His favorite bench to sit on when it got dark
A chance to get away from home and her
A chance to escape and be alone from her
Surrounded by the silence of the night
Each crisp exhale made him feel light
He could look at the stars and the soft moon
Take comfort in uniting with them soon
But such a shame to have to say goodbye
Each night to this vibrant view of a starry sky
For it was on one of these escapades
That his restless heart, its decision made
Set on a black bird with feathers that embraced
The wind, and with its wide wings it graced
The wind, and as soon as he saw it fly
It was a love that he could not deny
The pang of his heart hurt his chest
From his heart, this black bird, took the best
And he willingly gave himself away
His soul to soar with her, for it wouldn't stay
She caused the breeze on his face 
She caused his knees to lose their place
And just as she had come with a single blink
She took off swiftly as she spread her wings 
A moment so quick, but it felt like a life time
He thought, "to love a creature that can never be mine"
To love so deeply that he could let go
Of the only love he'd ever know
Print by Nilou Afshar
www.nilouafshar.com

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Connecting to Myself

I've recently started meditating more, except it's not really meditating, but "connecting". I used to go to these spiritual classes called "Erfan" and basically the concept is to sit for however long you feel it necessary and connect to your body and to the environment around you. There are different types of connections that aim to help you in different ways, and all I can say is that it's really helped me in more ways that I am aware of. Its effects aren't always shown right away, but present themselves to me in the way I find myself reacting to daily obstacles and the way I feel inside.

I've always been a rational person and I can analyze a situation for an eternity, but with Erfan, I've actually noticed a change that can't be described with words or with logic, it's just there. It happens deep within you and you don't need to convince yourself to be calm or forgiving or to love when you receive no love back, it just happens. That's the most amazing part of the whole process; it's effortless in a way. However, because it can seem so effortless, people find it hard to believe that it will have an effect on them, but it's all about trust and surrendering yourself to that moment.

The biggest contradiction I've always faced has been between my logical, practical mind, and a spiritual belief within me that there is more to people and to the world than meets the eye. With these classes, I've realized that sometimes the most sensible decision is the decision to let go of reason and to have faith. I think people come to that point many times in their lives when their faith in people and in themselves is tested. One story that pops into mind is for some reason or another my mom had kept some information from one of her friends and later when she admitted to doing so her friend replied, "I love you and I trust you, so when you decided not to tell me everything, I trusted that you had a good reason for it and I didn't question it." That always stuck in my head and I remember thinking "now that's love."

I'm still not that trusting, and I definitely can't say that I'm always completely forgiving, but I trust that, with time, I too will get there.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

White Rabbit



White little rabbit
Always so curious
To the world that surrounds you
Running after time
Running after hope
Big questions that astound you
Running from the hunter
Running from the danger
Too bad it already found you
Too busy always running
Searching, sniffing for some clues
Can't see what is around you
So little rabbit run
The world is after you
But you're still waiting for the sun
You gotta run rabbit run
Stop waiting for the unknown
There's no safety from anyone
A small fragile creature
So delicate the body
Still looking for that road
Too brave and brittle
Not ready to leave it behind
You're carrying a big load
Tired from running
Suffering and pain
Life's taken it's tole
Just want to enjoy the sun
Sit down and surrender
Digging up your own hole
But please run rabbit run
The world is after you
Waiting for the rising of the sun
Little rabbit run
Too much pain in the past
But another day has just begun
So Rabbit run. 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Figure Out What Strength Means

Yes, I just seriously quoted a Disney cartoon.
Strength is a strange concept. It's hard to tell what it means, because it probably has different meanings in different situations. Does it make you a strong person to always show your emotions to people, or does strength come from the capability to have control and act rationally? Are you a strong person because you can be vulnerable and cry, or is the stronger person the one who doesn't cry? And what about change? I've always thought that a person who can change the situation they're in, be it a bad relationship, or a career they don't like, is strong enough to do so. Yet, simultaneously, I've also thought about the daily strength it takes to stay in a situation that isn't always so desirable.

I could go on forever thinking about it, but I'll never know the answer because it's not so cut and dry. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between being strong and having a big ego. The idea of strength isn't about having power, whereas a person's ego may strive for that. Strength is about letting go of power. It isn't always about having control and acting rationally, but sometimes it's about being vulnerable and letting yourself be transparent. When I was watching Pina (2011), a film documenting Pina Bausch's influence as a dancer, one of her students mentioned a conversation she and Pina had, where Pina told her that her strength lied in her fragility. I thought that was a beautiful thought, and something that our society forgets, as aggression and assertiveness are more valued because we are told that they are qualities that lead to success; we have to be bold and logical and impenetrable to be respected. I doubt that that's true.

Growing up, I also always felt like showing emotions was a sign of weakness, but I realize that that's a part of being human. And if like me, a person is naturally calm in situations, then that's okay too. I guess strength really comes from recognizing who you are, and learning to not fight with it all the time. Hopefully, through this acceptance, people can also recognize that everyone is struggling and everyone has a fragile and sensitive piece in who they are. I've also learned in my experiences that the people who seem the most aggressive are, most often, the most sensitive and fragile and they use that aggression to protect themselves. Appearances are quite deceiving indeed. Everyone wants to seem strong and everyone wants to be respected, but I think we need to stop aiming for what the general definition of these words mean, and try to figure it out for ourselves. Me definitely included.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Only a Coward Would Love This Way

I have been pleasantly surprised these past few weeks at people who take the time to compliment my writing on the blogs. I always loved writing, from a very young age. I remember when my mom got me my first book to write in, and thus began my love for poetry at the age of eleven. When I began writing, I used to love sharing my work with people because it made me excited to have created something from my own imagination. It made me excited to have found this new tool of words to express my thoughts and feelings, and the idea of rhyming words, or matching sounds intrigued me.

As children, for us every experience is a new one and it's met with excitement and little expectation of what it could become. There's no insecurity about being creative because it's not a matter of proving yourself, since the worth doesn't come from exchanging a talent or a skill for money, but the worth lies in how much enjoyment comes out of it. Unfortunately as adults, we forget this feeling because responsibility takes over and along with that comes expectations, and therefore a measurement of our own capabilities, which can cause insecurities. As I got older, these insecurities took over me and by the time I had enrolled into a creative writing class in grade twelve, I was convinced that I couldn't write for shit (see picture below for an example of my creative writing.)


The beginning of my university career didn't help either, because let's face it, high school definitely doesn't teach students to write proper academic essays, and sure some people are smart enough to figure it out, but I wasn't until much later (same picture applies to essay writing as well.)

Needless to say, I didn't share any of my work for a very long time. Writing was important for me and to have someone tell me that I wasn't good enough put me in a very vulnerable position. But then I realized "what a cowardly way to love something." Loving doesn't mean hiding the thing you love so you can keep it safe from being criticized. Rather, it's about showing your love with all of its flaws, and having a strong enough heart to take criticism, however it comes, to become better and to love more vigorously. In my case, the love for writing grew when I stopped caring about being "good enough" and started to simply write. Following the same sentiment as my first entry: Nothing happens, if nothing happens, so stop thinking so much and do something; you may be pleasantly surprised one day.

Tangled Thoughts in an Empty Room

Print by Nilou Afshar
www.nilouafshar.com
Though it's empty
The room is heavy
It's filled with nostalgia
And a memory
That can't be traced
Too much empty space
That once was full
Of movement and life
And now it's stale
Cut the silence with a knife
A silence so thick, so tangled
With aimless thoughts
Memories I forgot
Words, unsaid
Broken promises that bled
But within these walls, they remain
For the room is meant to contain
The burden that has been burnin slow
The burden that I shake off
As I turn off the lights 
And go




Thursday, 16 May 2013

Our Breaths Dance, But We Do Not

Worlds of colours
Mixing with one another
Wind breezes on through
Creating swirls that travel
Between Me and You
Our breaths, warm
As we exhale and
Together they float
And they dance
Before our eyes
How beautiful
It is to witness this ritual
Which is communicating
More than words ever will
Communicating the sensuality
Of something we can't sense
For it is our breaths
That continue to dance
As we slowly turn away.


Female versus Male sexuality: Can Males Be "Sexually Fluid" Too?


There's this myth that females are more sexually fluid than males, meaning that they are more likely to be bicurious and to experience a broad range of sexual desires. The truth is that because our social hierarchy puts heterosexuality at the top, but specifically heterosexually masculine men, women have nothing to lose because their heterosexuality is never questioned, and so this frees them to sexually experiment. On the flip side, having a homosexual experience for a man, who identifies as heterosexual, can have severe consequences because his heterosexual masculinity automatically goes into question.

The amount of times I've heard questions like "How can he be completely straight if he's made out with another guy? Oh my god, he must be gay, but he's just not out yet" makes me think that people are too narrow minded about sexuality. It's strange that if a man claims that he had sex with another man, that one-time experience can never be thought about casually, whereas if a woman were to do the same thing, no one would question: a) her femininity and b) her heterosexuality, but would either blame the alcohol or brush it off as her wanting to experiment. I'm not saying that everyone is that narrow minded or that every scenario will play out just as I've mentioned, but there is truth in the statement that it is much more difficult for heterosexual men to be accepted and not questioned for being bicurious, than it is for heterosexual women, as men indirectly and directly feel like they are jeopardizing their heterosexual identities and threatening their masculinity; there is a lot more at stake.

When it comes to sexual fluidity, men are put into more rigid categories of "either you're straight, or you're gay" and I don't think that that's a fair assessment. I believe that this type of categorization is problematic for both men and women because it continues to put heterosexual masculinity on a pedestal, since it becomes such a powerful part of a man's identity, which he is always on the verge of losing if he does not ascribe to stereotypical notions of what it means to be heterosexual and/or masculine.

Sculptures from Cancun's Underwater Museum
Alfred Kinsey, best known for his theories on sex, suggested that people have different degrees of heterosexuality versus homosexuality, known as The Kinsey Scale, and that most are likely to be somewhere in between. Although many of his studies went under question due to his methods of research, I tend to believe that there is some truth to his understanding of human sexuality. Even historically, people's understandings of these categories were quite different, suggesting that it is society which determines the boundaries of what is sexually acceptable and what is not. Take Socrates' time, for example. As displayed by many of his writings, love was not known to be between a man and a woman within a marriage, but between an older man and his much younger male disciple. Therefore, such a relationship certainly did not take away from a man's masculinity nor did it suggest that he was homosexual for he would probably also be married with children. On the contrary, it was expected, because philosophers such as Socrates believed that it was through such relationships that one learned the meaning of love.

What I mean to suggest is that our understanding of masculinity and heterosexuality is continuously changing according to society's norms, and so holding such words so close to one's identity can keep people from experiencing something that they may be interested in, but too ashamed to admit to. These are all my own thoughts on the subject, but who am I to say? I just feel like the relationship between men and women, among themselves, with each other, and to the society, would really change for the better if we all learned that sexuality can be fluid for everyone and that "masculinity" has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

People Are (I am) Masochistic


I had a few ideas that I wanted to discuss, but I decided that I don't feel like being intelligent and would rather ramble. This is my blog, after all, and if I want to be annoying about it, so I shall. We can't always say something worth while because sometimes we just need to ramble until something worth while comes up. I'm pretty sure that that is the kind of therapeutic treatment Freud established. Who needs Freud anyway? I'll "free associate" by myself!

I am Garfield. Period.
So my room is a mess. I find that my physical environment seems to be a direct reflection of the way I'm feeling. I also find that sporadically getting up to clean my room can have extreme positive effects on my mood and sense of self. It's funny the way an environment can affect someone's internal mood, and someone's internal mood can create the appearance of the environment. It makes me wonder that small tasks can make a bigger difference than people give them credit for. For example, brushing teeth, taking a shower, changing out of pajamas, having a clean room, these tasks that are meant to keep up our appearances actually have an effect on the way we hold ourselves and the way we feel about ourselves; they can affect someone's whole day. But when these are such simple tasks, why are they then so hard to do when a person's in a rut?

Sometimes when I'm feeling down, my room will be a complete mess, I'll still be in my pajamas at 5:00pm, and I'll feel dirty as hell (too much information?), but I still wont get up to change anything. It's almost like I want to make myself suffer. People are crazy. Maybe it's just me who's crazy. I wonder if anyone else likes to piss themselves off on purpose? The truth is that I have a very mild case of OCD, so it's almost like I want to drive myself crazy by hanging out in a completely messy and chaotic room. I'm so weird. At least I'm honest. What is that Freud? This all comes down to me wanting to get down with my dad?? Well fuck you! No but seriously, Freud is hilarious. I heard that he used to get high on cocaine. Not sure if that's true, but it would add another level onto his, sometimes comical, conclusions.
Even the pinata is masochistic! 

To be honest, I really have no solution to the problem. I just know that people always go through phases, and if they're insightful enough, the negative phases become easier to deal with. I've also learned that it's too easy to judge and think that the solution is simple, but everyone needs to figure shit out on their own time because that's when it will be real; that's when it will truly sink in. Everyone has something in their life that is a challenge for them and I suppose it's through these challenges that we are all connected.



Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy "it's the hardest job in the fucking world" Day

Three Generations: Mom, Grandma, Me
Thank you for teaching me so much, even when you didn't always mean to. Thank you for never being afraid to show yourself as human to me, instead of an all-knowing adult who never makes mistakes, which is the way I see most parents act with their children. Thank you for apologizing when you were out of line, or protecting me when someone else was. Thank you, thank you, thank you.





Being a parent is not an easy task, and because it's not payed with anything tangible, its value can and does go unnoticed too often and way more than it should. To spend time with a child, watch them grow, put effort in everything that you do with them, and do it all with love, is beyond me. Like I said in a previous post, I'd be bringing cocktails to the park to help me get through the day, so any parent who doesn't do that wins in my books. Obviously I'm kidding, because it takes a few more requirements, other than not being alcoholic, to be a good parent. Point is that parenting is hard.

Actually one of my best friends and I were talking about how we both feel sympathetic to mothers who go crazy and kill their children. The truth is, I can totally understand how that can happen. It's awful, yes, but still understandable to me. When parents, and usually mothers because they are the ones that take care of children the majority of the time, are not supported enough, or don't feel like what they're doing is valued, well that would make anyone go crazy because it's actually such hard work.

Parents need a network of social support. We have this idea that parents have to do it all on their own, but historically the idea of family has never been two people raising children on their own and completely isolated. That's insane! Historically, family, friends, and communities have always created a social system where raising children is done by many adults who support them and support each other. Sure, it was for survival purposes, but the question I always ask when thinking of families is: Are we really surviving on our own now? People are social beings and they need each other for everything, so why not also raising children, which is the hardest job a person will ever have?

It is for this reason that I respect my mom today. We had many people who loved us and kept us afloat, no doubt. But also for the majority of my years growing up, it was just my mom and I. It was a difficult time and one that I've mostly blocked out. So thank you mom, for not going crazy enough to kill me. Thank you for hanging in there.

<3






Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Crows Caw


The crows warn me
Of what's to come
Trees covering the sky
Hovering over my
Head and I
Can't shake off
The feeling of
Breathless breaths
Countless deaths
Of dreams it seems
I walk this path
Of leaves
The moonlight
Sneaking through
The cracks of branches
Showing the darkness
To me, with patches
Of light
I might
Have a chance 
I think to myself, but then
The crows tell me so
And I know 
That I walk blindly
But light of the moon 
Will guide me
Hitting my face
So gently
On this path 
Of my future and past
Made from dried out leaves
And long lost dreams
I proceed
Leaves crunching
Beneath my feet
The crows caw 
Their notes, raw
And so I face my own defeat

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Men Versus Women: Are they really that different?




I've always been aware of the way media portrays men and women and, most of the time, it adheres to conventional views of the way either should act. There is humor to be found in the way they are pitted against each other, and I've also noticed that many comedians get most of their laughs by highlighting "what men do" versus "what women do". It's evident that according to television shows, commercials, and especially nonsensical magazines that women are whiny, nagging, crazy, emotional bitches beings who continuously need to be educated on "How To Please Your Man", whereas men are emotionally unaware, sexually motivated, "never right, even though they're right" people who have to deal with women, and neither seem to understand each other because they are just oh so different. Wow. Where do I even begin to dissect this distorted view?

Are you shitting me with this?
First of all, looking at men and women in this way troubles me because I feel like it's an unfair depiction of both. It's amazing that, still to this day, so many people hold essentialist views about gender, meaning that they believe women and men are biologically built to act differently towards sex, relationships, and conflict, when that is so far from the truth. I can't blame people though, because before I read a few articles and educated myself on the matter, I had similar opinions and I was content to believe that differences could not always be controlled, nor could they change because that was the way we were biologically programmed. Little did I know that the very idea of gender itself has continuously been changing and that it is viewed differently in various cultures. I might discuss this in more detail in another blog, but for the sake of keeping each blog short, I will keep the focus of this one on the fact that, actually, no one has found any proof to suggest that men and women are all that different (with a few and very minor exceptions in their anatomies and level of hormones.) This means that being a woman or a man will not determine your personality or the choices that you make, so much that the idea of what it means to be a woman or a man might. That's an important distinction to make because it suggests that change is quite possible. However equally, it also suggest that change is difficult because ideas can be very powerful, due to the depth in which they are embedded into a society's belief system.

But I say it's time to switch it up already; it's time to shake the pot. The time has come to open our minds up about the, too often, rigid views we have about gender roles and expectations. Yes, it is possible for a man to be sensitive, not always sexually driven, and just as "complicated" and moody as a woman. Similarly, a woman can be quite logical, easy going, and at times, more concerned about her own sexual gratification than learning "10 Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with [her]" (can I get an amen?!! No not a man...urg never mind) The point is that people are a lot more fluid than most categories allow, especially in terms of gender and sexual orientation. Imagine the freedom people would feel if such categories were not simplified and then forced upon people to fit into them. Perhaps people could then let the fluid nature of their identities flow without anxiety and fear that they would be jeopardizing their positions within the society, and within their own personal lives. I say it's time to let ourselves (and others) flow.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Road Will Be Mine

For those of you who like poetry, here is another:

Sitting in the passenger's seat
Waiting for something to happen
When I realize that I'm holding the wheel
But I can't move because I'm strapped in
The feeling of panic sets in
The car moves faster and I can't control it
I want to stop but I'm trapped in
With my hands numb I can't hold it
I realize that this is the moment
Either give in or give it all up
“But I'm not ready yet” I told it
“So you must tell the panic to stop”
Stop! I take control because I know
How this will eventually end
Be it smooth, rocky, fast or slow
The road will be mine to bend
Its bumps, mine to mend
Its wisdom, my friend
The road will be mine in the end

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Doubt, just F-off!

Unfortunately the article I was working on for the kid's magazine got rejected or "pulled" to put it more politely. There's nothing like being rejected politely. There's a proverb in Farsi that's along the lines of "cut their heads off with cotton", which essentially means to stab someone ten times, for example, but to do it while you're laughing and massaging them so that they don't feel it. Wait, I'm sure that job already exists and they call themselves acupuncturists. No offence to acupuncturists, I'm sure you're lovely people...who cut people's heads off with cotton ...bastards. Okay okay, back to being rejected: I don't want to be dramatic about the whole thing because I know that these things happen. Sometimes it's not what they're looking for or the final edit doesn't happen in time to be published.

It's still very disappointing in that moment, but it's important to keep the same pace and just continue on. I've come to realize that I give up too fast. I've been spending my life waiting for the answers to jump out at me, but I haven't made much effort finding them, and I know that because I haven't been rejected enough. You know you're doing the best you can when you have a few doors closed on you. I've been so afraid of being told that I'm not good enough, that I've never really put myself out there to be in a vulnerable position. What kind of a life is that? Too mellow for my liking. Too safe.

There's another issue: reality checks. How often do we really go looking for them? I know I don't, but I also know that sometimes it's necessary. It's good to have someone tell you that you didn't do it right. It's even good to have someone tell you that you absolutely suck because it'll get you thinking. Either you get to a point where you honestly confess that maybe what you thought you wanted wasn't really what you wanted, or you say "fuck you" to the doubt that you have, and find a way to make it work. I haven't decided where I stand with that fork in the road yet. Still in the middle, as I always am with everything, and still waiting to take my next step.


I realize there is no fork in the road, but it's a road and it kind of works with my metaphor so cut me some slack.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

I Coulda Been Somebody

A few months ago I was thinking about how we only celebrate the big successes we have in our lives, but to me, the true success is the will to do the daily tasks that get us to where we want to go. Every time we get up in the morning, the effort that goes into getting prepared for the day, thinking about what food and where we'll eat, these aren't always so easy to do and the fact that we have the will to achieve these small tasks day in and day out in order to ensure a healthy life, or life at all for that matter, should be something that we can be proud of. Maybe I just think like that because I'm trying to console myself for not having achieved much in my twenty-four years of life, so I'm simply proud of the fact that I'm still around. Sue me.

Joking aside, sometimes I really think I know how I define success. It seems simple and so easy to attain. It's about finding peace within myself, regardless of my situation or the obstacles I face. It's the ability to genuinely smile during a day when nothing has gone right, and I've had phases when that's happened so I know that that's possible. But at times I tend to get confused because expectations get in the way, and that can include my own dreams and aspirations. To quote Terry Malloy from the film On the Waterfront (1954), ever since I was a kid I always had this feeling that "I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." That's exactly how I feel and I'm sure many people will understand because, at the end of the day, everyone wants to be "somebody"; they want to leave some kind of footprint behind. It makes you wonder why that is so important? I tend to think that perhaps we're all playing a big joke on ourselves and it isn't meant to be so complicated. Maybe it's not important to be "somebody" as it is to simply "be."

Convenient that my initials are B.E. Perhaps that's my legacy: Banafshe Eshragi, the girl who learned how to be.


Friday, 3 May 2013

Bells Hit the Ground

Because a little poetry never hurt anyone, here is something I wrote a while ago.


Gentle rain
Penetrates
The pores
It pours
Down
It goes
Collision
Of drops 
With the ground
They sound
Like bells
Or like a
Piano sounds
The skin
Surrounded
By Fog 
I long
For it 
To touch me
The trees
Whisper 
No path 
In front
No path 
Behind
But the rain
Will guide
When the fog
Blinds
In my breath
I trust
I must 
Keep going
I am alone
But I long
To be
The whisper
Of a tree
The music 
Of rain
The smell 
Of grass
I long 
To be
One with the living
One with the dead
I know 
I must
Trust in my breath