Letter to the One that Stopped

Dearest,

I fear you. Your glorious, unfiltered power. Your topless, free-breasted march toward the unknown. You are unapologetic and inflexible in your understandings of the world because you know yourself and would never apologize for such. I remember when I first met you three years ago; before that, I had seen glimpses of you at parties, on mountaintops, in the cumulus clouds. But, I was always looking out as you were wondering by.

But three years ago, you stopped and I stopped. We knew it was our time, and we took it. Time is so much easier to grab with four hands instead of two. You helped me break, you helped me make the phone call, you helped me release the nine-year floodgate of “Fuck you!” And then, afterwards, after the mess I made and the mess I became, you told me to clean up and keep walking, to pack it up, steal the cat, and create a life I didn’t know I didn’t want until we had made it ourselves.

But I am stubborn and so are you, and I didn’t know what I didn’t want until I had lived it myself. Like a pair of shoes, my favorite well-traveled companion carrying me for miles. At some point, I had to buy a new pair of shoes. But you are not shoes, you are not worn and trampled upon. You last forever, if I allow you to, if I let you in. And I did, three years ago, when you stopped and I stopped, and we took our time.

But that was three years ago, and you never loved me more than you had three months ago. When I told my parents, bought the ticket, boxed it up, and sold the rest walking away from the life and future that cost me nine years of mental abuse and an accruing interest of $80,000. The me I didn’t know I didn’t want.

Beer buzzed in a small hotel in Pankow, windows open listening to the rain, petting my stolen cat and thinking of my reclaimed life. All crammed into two suitcases, a violin case, and a spiral bound journal. I hadn’t realized, not truly, how much I loved you, how grateful I am to have you. The feeling of love and synchronicity overwhelmed me. You had stopped, and I had stopped, and we had taken this.

My dear,
my love,
my precious, beautiful,
Freedom.

 

Seafarers Holy Day

8 A.M.: Awakened by bells, tolling for me to rise and gape in awe at a colorful array of labeled boxes. What’s in there? A bike or a pony? Is a big wheeler with racing stripes cooler than a rainbow colored pony? Would mom let me keep the pony? Probably not.
9 A.M.: Wait in basement for cousins to arrive. While waiting, tried to imagine what Laura Ingles Wilder would get for Christmas, bar soap probably. An inquiry: Why do cousins, no matter how early, regardless of Santa’s visitation, arms embraced with toys, take the latter part of a century to come over in pajamas?
10 A.M.: Ravenous. The carcasses of gifts strewn across the floor-mine were untouched, for the record, hidden in the basement- there is a cabinet under the stairs that holds them. Helped burn the wreckage. Intermission, attempted to trade, with great success, my presents for things I envy: Road Dahl’s The Twits, Dinotopia in hardcover, a collection of works by Impressionist painters, the unabridged version of Dracula, though mother really should have stopped me from taking the latter. Argued with sister, grade 2, about the importance of embracing a variety of genres and that intelligent people read a vast array. She used my books for safety rocks while playing the floor is lava.
10:30 A.M.: All males gather in the kitchen salivating as grandma pulls out the strata and Christmas cinnamon rolls.
11 A.M.: The Catholics argue over the time the “Christmas Church Service” began. It was 30 minutes ago. Wonder which basement crevasse best accommodates me for hiding purposes. Hitch stocking full of necessary goods to pajama bottoms (containing the nutrients of Christmas sugar) and begin separating from the group, descending the stairs, clenched by aunt.
Noon: Eat stale wafer and sour juice. Man in white prays for us, man in pew sleeps, Papa smiles wide, exposing hidden doughnut from jacket pocket. All seek salvation, I crave milk. After sermon, the white cloth shakes hands, nodding, smiling. I am placed on Papa’s shoulders. Says the tale of Odysseus is just as good.
1 P.M.: Lunch is well under way upon our arrival home, must be careful not to injure uncle…asleep on floor. Others have assumed fetal position in living room, deeply lethargic, animalistic snores fill the room. Now for my escape.
1:30 P.M.: Nabbed again? Disappointingly, claw fingered aunt forces me to sit while she discusses loneliness: last Christmas cat died, the one before her husband, the third a cardinal hit the glass. Continues mumbling grievances well into deep sleep.
2-3 P.M.: Charles Wallace begins showing me that there is in fact no solid continuum of time but that time undergoes accordion like compression. Tried explaining theory to cousins, caused brains to combust. Went in search of others.
3:30 P.M.: Voyage wise sea captain! Upon searching the house for a willing ear, I found Papa on the porch. Removing his gold frames he set down Cervantes’s Don Quixote within 2 seconds of my arrival. I skim his shelves lined with adventures: The Far Side of the World, Seahawk, The Iliad, Treasure Island, and The Life, Adventures and Piracies of Captain Singleton. Papa told me that Ernest Shackleton, evidently a famous explorer, no doubt to be learned in school, best explained the complexities of a seaman, both a freedom and curse. After retrieving the necessary hot chocolate, we continue our conversation about the definition of mutiny. He feels that I am old enough to handle such complexities. Furthermore, mutiny, by definition, a crew against one’s own captain, is nothing more, than a physical argument.
5:05 P.M.: At this time, the adults awaken from their comas; Modern Prometheus rises from his man made couch only to be attacked by a swarm of underling cousins. Silence has been broken-weren’t Papa’s stories better then their comatose dreams?-and the family begins reconvening for another meal.
8 P.M.: Relatives begin slowly assembling layered garments. Explain that Demeter will be with her daughter soon. Realizing the redundancy of changing my current frog patterned garb I prepare for bed, listing the necessary steps. Would I rather read Alice in Wonderland or The Magician’s Nephew? Can’t decide. Where the Sidewalk Ends or Skin? Can’t Decide. Could I be transported to another world through a painting? No, and I don’t want to be involved in a murder either.
9 P.M.: Sister complains about the unknown location of new Barbies. Turn over grinning myself to sleep.
10 P.M.: Awoken by Papa handing me a box. Cautiously, lift cardboard lid. Drop box on floor, where it remains for days.
10:30 P.M.: Eventually fall asleep.  Embracing my collection of C.S. Forester. Horatio Hornblower, 1st Baron Hornblower and the HMS Hotspur.

Girl and Frog

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(I have become fascinated by the blending of language, form, and art. Here is a short story written and visually represented simultaneously. It reads: When I was a little girl, I was visited by a frog in my garden.)

Psychopathic Passive Aggressive Notes to Myself

Two socks, neither are mine.

Your fridge approached me the other day. It was an unwelcome advance.

You conduct an abnormal amount of static electricity. I am quite tired of your electrical current.

Where did you put the key to that memory?

Fuck you brain for phantom pain!

I see that you have failed to follow instructions.

Looking for another state of consciousness again huh? Spin around and think about the taste of purple!

The fridge says hello!

Please do not buy any more journals. You are just provoking her.

You are my legacy.

You are my false god.

 

 

 

Brawk-Brawk-Brawk

I write with a frog on my shoulder. No, it is not a metaphor. It is a Litoria caerulea. An a-sadeghipour-ernestoAustralian green tree frog commonly known as a dumpy tree frog. I went to the pet store to purchase crickets for Ernesto. The young girl at the cricket bin asked me what I was feeding. I told her that I was feeding an Australian green tree frog.

“A what?” she responded.

“An Australian green tree frog. A Litoria caerulea.”

Her furrowed brow and confused glazed eyes indicated to me that she had no idea what I was talking about even though the terrarium behind her was labeled in a green paint pen, “Australian Green Tree Frogs for Sale! A hearty friendly species! The Perfect Pet!”

“Well, what do they look like?” she asked.

“Well, they’re frogs that are green because they’re green tree frogs. Sometimes, my little guy turns blue depending on the temperature.”

My response was met with squinted eyes. It was as if by squinting her eyes the image would appear beneath her eyelids, “Yeah, don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I’ve seen brown frogs before. Are they called something else maybe?”

“They’re also called Dumpy tree frogs because they have large fat deposits on their head and back,” I explained.

“Oh,” she scoffed sinking back into her shoulders as if they would conform to her body and close in on her like a protective shell.

“Is everything okay?” Her turtle reaction was strange to me.

“You shouldn’t call them that,” she sneered attitude drooling out of her mouth.

“Call them what?”

Her chest puffed up like a proud feathered cock about to crow, “Dumpy. The word dumpy is offensive to the animal.”

I took the bag of crickets out of her hand and began cautiously walking backwards. I was taught to never turn my back on two kinds of people, the crazy and the stupid. I paid for my crickets, walked across the rain soaked parking lot, started my car and began laughing hysterically. I pulled into my gravel covered driveway and wiped the tears of hilarity off my cheeks. I fed Ernesto who delightfully gobbled up ten of the twelve crickets I had just purchased.

“I’m sorry to have offended you, Sir Ernesto,” I smiled as I picked up my little frog, placed him on my shoulder, and wrote this down.

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“On Written Knowledge”

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(Continuation of “On the Writing Process”)

Writing knowledge. Knowledge of writing. Writing about Knowledge. Knowing how to write. Wait, I think the last one is different. Knowledge: (n.) “Information and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject” (Webster’s Dictionary). Hmm, perhaps the last one is not so different. I know that I have gone through the drills and learned the skills but it didn’t teach me how to write. So what did? Who did? Is it Experience with a capital “E”? Education often fell back into the skills and drills category. So where did it come from? Did I have some kind of epiphany? No, my brain doesn’t work like that. It’s a beaten beast that acquires knowledge from hard work and aggressive determination. If some kind of holy evangelic light did appear, it would wonder where the hell it came from and whether or not a glare was a trustworthy source of information.

“On the Writing Process”

(Continuation of “On Writing in Iran”)

One English teacher told me that writing was a process and everyone’s process was different. I laughed. A process? Ha! It’s more like a Pollack. Throw it on the ground and get mad. Maybe get a little drunk. Fling some ideas onto it and see what splatters, what oozes, what drips right off the canvas. Look at it closely and get a little paint on the tip of your nose. Then realize that your looking at abstraction and step back in exhaustion. Only to realize that amongst the chaos, you created a fractal.

A.Sadeghipour.Cursive.jpgI once got into a fight with my ex over cursive. He didn’t understand why they still taught cursive when all assignments could be typed up. He didn’t understand why people wouldn’t print legibly instead of writing in doodles. He just didn’t understand that without this physical representation of my swirly, compacted, blending letters, I would be voiceless. I have to see myself on paper. I have to be reminded of my home language. I have to feel my thoughts transition from some metaphysical brain plane to a visually jumbled blue inked representation. I have to see my thoughts in my writing.

And now, it is so strange to say, that I am approaching the end of my path. I look back on the moments that hurt me the most. Pain is a cruel teacher. But, I learned from those scars and calluses and I think to myself, “Maybe it was a dangerous mistake to put a pen in my hand. To leave me with the words I knew how to use but not why to use them. Because I remember them and my needle draws blood from black and blue.” You and I have made me the writer that I am.

(Continued in “On Written Knowledge”)

“On Writing in Iran”

(Continuation of “On Writing”)

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The callus had formed a long time ago having never had the opportunity to heal. The pressure of every pen and pencil. The physical presence of every written assignment embedded into a small hard mound on my middle finger. In Iran, my teacher believed that the best way to learn a language and to learn how to write was to copy a text of high spiritual and scholarly merit verbatim. In essence, the only work that could adhere to such a high caliber was the Koran. I learned three things from that experience. First, Farsi. Second, that verbose metaphoric language, as depicted in the Koran, has no place in academia. And third, that I knew that seven seater dinning room table and dimly lit chandelier better than anyone. After getting home in the evening, by a taxi driver who would always drop me off last and honk violently at the gate for my father to come down and pay him, I sat at that dinning room table copying line after line of the Holy Book until 2, sometimes 3, sometimes 4 in the morning before going to bed only to be woken up 4, sometimes 3, sometimes 2 hours later to go to school. At school, the teacher didn’t like me because I asked too many questions and I didn’t understand how. The students didn’t like me because I was the American who thought she was entitled to the answers to her questions. The students who were kind enough to help me would often grow frustrated  and walk away exhausted because after answering the how, I would always ask why. Eventually, I just stopped asking questions until the ninth grade when, back in America, a teacher wrote two fateful words on my paper, “How so?”

jun13480In Iran, I realized that my education was entirely my own and that if I wanted to advance, I would have to do so on my own. I would stay up late doing drills, completing workbooks, copying the Koran a hundred times until I could actually understand the words that I had written and what they meant together. I felt like a manufacturing line producing and fixing components but unable to see the whole. Unable to understand how everything fit together. But this did not teach me how to write, it taught me how to copy. This experience taught me how to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts which I completely disagreed with and even though I understood the how, the rules and grammatical regulations that held the language together, I still did not understand the why. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the why that these dead words on a page began to take on a new meaning. I now understood that I was establishing my foundation. I was establishing a solid set of rules, techniques, and strategies that would allow me to progress forward. Now, I could either build up my foundation further, jump off of it, or tear the whole thing down. The third one seemed less useful, so I decided to go with the first two

(Continued in “On the Writing Process”).

“On Writing”

Writing. Wrighting. Right-Wing. Rrrright-Ing. -Ing, -ing, -ing like an annoying ping, ping, ping. What the hell is it? It’s like trying to get a A.Sadeghipour.OnWriting.JPGdirect answer from a philosopher. Confusing and unattainable yet entirely adaptable and personal. Don’t judge my writing! Otherwise it means you don’t like me. But, I must learn to separate the two. After all, during the grading process the teacher does not have me sitting next to them explaining my rationale or intention. All they have is my paper. Is all of my writing reflective of me? Probably not. Funnily enough, I feel that the resume is the most bland and detached version of me. Here is a list of what I have done but not what I have learned. Sometimes, writing can be so sterile. This, then this, then this. However, not formulaic. For me, the familiarity of formula gives me comfort. Why? Because y is always equal to mx+b. That’s why. But this, I don’t like this here. Why? Because, because it doesn’t sound right. What? But doesn’t it fit contextually? Yes. But isn’t it sequentially and logically appropriate? Yes. But isn’t it grammatically correct? Yes, but it doesn’t sound right. I didn’t realize this was music theory 101. Read it and listen to yourself, see it just doesn’t sound right. It sounds fine. You should have heard the three voices in my head that were arguing this one out. Once 16 1/2 year old AP English student me got involved in the dialogue well, it turns into a red ink blood bath.

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I am trying to write, but my cat is trying desperately to distract me. She is currently biting my pen as I write this sentence. I realize that the typed version of this may create confusion with my prior reference, but I can’t sit with my thoughts while staring at a blinding white screen. Why does it have to be white? Why can’t it be blue, or gray, or polka-dotted? Why blazing, blaring, devoid of all colors, white? And if you stare at it long enough, it begins to pulsate just enough to remind you that you are stressed and the the clock is ticking to your own heart beat which you would think makes you feel in control, but you can’t control time and you can’t control every heartbeat.

So, no. I don’t like writing on computers. And, yes. I have to admit to myself that I need my tactile reminder. Blue pen pressed between pointer finger and middle finger with my thumb pressed against the side of the instrument guiding my words as they touch down on paper. I need that physical reminder. Just like I need my other physical reminder. A hard callus formed on the middle finger of my writing hand serving as a permanent reminder of my previous imperfections.

(Continued in “On Writing in Iran”)