when people ask me where i’m from i usually give them the ‘look’. you know the one. it translates as: ‘you just asked a question that doesn’t really have an answer, so brace yourself’. i also give that look when people ask me what i do for work. and why dev always rocks a headband. ha.
anyway. i spent MOST of my life in a little place called new zealand. you may be familiar with this little patch of earth thanks to the lord of the rings, or because of all the sheep. and even though nz is proud of both its connection to peter jackson and lamb chops, this country is by far one of the most beautiful places in the world.
and in case you need convincing, here are some stunning photographs by andrew smith that pretty much make the case for me.
while i’m on my nz-kick, there is a new zealand sharp cheddar cheese sold at trader joes (for all you americanites) that is SO delicious. i’m sure it has everything to do with the fact that nz cows eat grass. not weird corn cereal. anyway, dev and i have it every morning for breakfast. sliced thinly on crackers with avocado and irish butter. it’s perfection.
if vintage typewriters were not so inordinately heavy and cumbersome to move around, i’d definitely collect a whole family them. currently i have two. one little blue royale and a sleek black corona.
of course when i saw this invention my heart skipped three beats.
sometimes living in LA can be overwhelming. and sometimes it can be the perfect fit. i’m learning to take the good with the bad and roll with the punches. yeah, the drivers have no patience and you may not become insta-friends with the barista’s at your coffee shop…but it has its perks. the sunshine in the middle of january being one very giant perk. as much as i love the romance of snow and the huddling by a fire…nothing says embrace the outside more than 72 degree sunshine saturated days.
so yes, los angeles is becoming home for us. or maybe it’s just that our our little apartment is becoming home for us. it’s spacious yet cozy. its nooks and crannies are filled with my vintage camera collection and other little treasures. we have our favorite coffee mugs and a distinct breakfast routine. our couch is perfect for snuggling and/or holding a meeting with the townspeople (should the need arise). and when we walk in after being away for the day it has that indiscernible scent that announces: hey welcome back! kick off your shoes and get comfortable. your pajamas are right where you left them.
however, there are two things that i wish were different about our little abode.
we have to rely on on-street parking. this is like relying on…(trying to think of a suitable comparison. and failing). i don’t know. think of something unreliable – like the healthcare system, or your cat’s mood, or movie sequels. yep. that’s how hard it is to rely on finding street parking outside our place. what this means is once we find a spot on our street we subconsciously feel like we can’t leave the house again. the annoyance of having to risk not finding a spot upon our return means that we have to weigh up every outing with the question: IS IT REALLY WORTH NOT FINDING PARKING WHEN WE COME HOME?
and suffice to say, more often than not, the answer to that question is a no.
2. loco landlord
our landlord is, well to put it nicely, a real character. to put it not nicely, he’s a mean spirited, disillusioned bully with a vendetta. when we signed our lease we got some red flags that warned us that he was a little on the eccentric side. like that moment when he told us we couldn’t have plants inside. or wear heels. or have people over without written consent. but now we’re getting the full dose of just how different his perception of reality is to that of, oh, the rest of the world.
a few weeks ago i got in trouble because i allowed someone into the building who didn’t live here. there was a guy at the gate who is a friend of my upstairs neighbors and wanted to let my neighbor know to move his car so it didn’t get towed…so of course i let him in. he was doing a good deed. i’m PRO good deeds. only to have my landlord stomp downstairs and give me a 20 minute lecture on letting strangers into the building. he started yelling about how i could have been assaulted and how he doesn’t want people to be let in the gates because they might serve him with papers and he doesn’t want to get sued. are you re-reading that last line because it doesn’t make sense? yep. exactly.
the other fun interaction we had with him was when we realized the dryer that we share with our next door neighbor and our landlord (who lives upstairs) is hooked up to OUR power. so basically we pay for the neighbors and the landlord to dry their clothes. we don’t mind some much about the neighbors because the washing machine is hooked to their power, so i guess that sort of evens things out but the landlord just gets to use both appliances on someone else’s dime. there is no way that is fair and it was never discussed in the lease. so dev brings it up with him one day casually – just mentions in passing ‘hey, it looks like dryer is hooked to our power. is that correct?’ and the landlord flips out. starts ranting and raving and telling us we should leave. he starts screaming that he is not stealing from us and that we are trying to get out of our lease. dev had to tell him to come back when he’d cooled down. and he did with a revised lease in hand that stated that if we didn’t want the dryer to be connected to our power, he’d just take it away and we’d have to go to the local laundromat. DRAMATIC much?
but wait, there’s more. the other day we came home to a fire in our building. luckily it was contained and dealt with quickly so it only caused damage to a small area in our neighbors bedroom. but today i heard our landlord yelling at our neighbor and accusing him of starting the fire. how did he start the fire? by plugging in a space heater. and now we have all been given written notice that we are supposed to check with our landlord before we plug in any appliances. er. what?
as much as i’m a rule follower, i’m not about to traipse over to my landlords apartment (right above ours) and ask him if it’s ok for me to dry my hair. or make toast. not going to happen.
so, like the dutiful tenants we are, we’re bound into our lease and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. but i’m going to stockpile these stories so that when my future kids one day tell me i’m crazy, i can say OH REALLY?!!? let me tell you a story. now THAT’S crazy.
when dev and i were ‘courting’ each other from opposite ends of the country (side note: do people still ‘court’ each other? i’m all in favor of courting. viva la courting!) we would send each other text messages where we’d reduce the words to just initials. not in the popularly overused tradition of lol and omg, but whole sentences like ‘i.w.y.w.h.s.i.c.s.y.f.o’. and we would go back and forth like this having entire conversations. i was always impressed by how we never had any problem figuring out what each other was saying. i loved this little game. and from time to time we still leave each other notes only using initials.
so, it was with incredible delight that i spied johnny miller’s photograph folio where he took photographs of his parents letters back and forth when his dad was enlisted in vietnam and his parents were courting. the letters are so sweet and hopeful. and beautifully photographed.
as i flicked through his folio i saw this on the back of one of the envelopes…
so i guess we’re not the only ones.
supposedly i’m ‘stress-grinding’ my teeth at night. which is mysterious because dev has never heard me grind my teeth. and i don’t wake up with a sore jaw. but regardless, my dentist has instructed i wear a mouth guard. and now i have a reason to stress grind – wearing a mouth guard is awful. i’m dutifully following instructions, but i can see this being a one of those 6 weeks of good intentions fall to the wayside scenario.
i’m not sure exactly what is stressing me out, but it might have a little something to do with the fact that in one measly week, we are sending the Oprah Winfrey Network our final cuts of the SoulPancake webisodes. eeeeek. it’s pretty intensely awesome and simultaneously terrifying. the SP team has been hard at work – our entire weekend was eaten up by shooting creative stop motion interstitials. which, let’s face it, is a dream come true for me. give me a sharpie, string, cardboard and some lights and i’m reveling.
in efforts to de-stress i’ve started quasi-regular yoga classes, going for long meandering walks to no where in particular, and taking lots of photographs. i am lucky to also have a husband that makes me laugh constantly with his supermarket aisle impromptu dance parties, here’s a song i just wrote for you serenades, and enveloping hugs.
which reminds me, if you don’t envelop your loved ones in hugs then you are a half-hugger. and i have a low tolerance for half huggers.
where was i? oh yes. stress grinding. so there’s that. but i guess if having my dream job and meeting deadlines results in a smidgen of stress grinding i’m ok with it. post deadline i want a vacation however. :)
here’s a sneak peak into one of the stop motion segments we created. look familiar?
quick list of all the things that currently cause me concern
+ driving in la
+ all the dishwashing soap residue left on our dishware that we eat off
+ the smog i inhale on a daily basis
+ the flouride levels of our water
+ whether buying faux fur encourages more real fur fashion and whether this hurts fur covered creatures in the long run
+ that i don’t have the attention span for a 90 minute yoga class. i just want 60 minutes.
+ the fact that most of the above concerns, are such first world problems and i should just be grateful to have water. and faux fur options. and yoga classes. and a dishwasher.
i haven’t unpacked from our last trip to arizona-nashville-sanfran. i’m just using the suitcase as a ‘drawer’ on the floor. my laziness knows no bounds.
so, a little ahead of schedule it seems, spring is already happening in LA. we’ve had days of sunshine and as much as i appreciate the romance of blustery ice-cold winds and snow blanketing a landscape, i have to say, i’m pretty smitten with LA’s wimpy excuse for winter.
i will always have a thing for paper collages. this example spied here.
dev just told me that when he was younger (like 8 or 9) he had a short spikey haircut with a long rattail. and for school photos one year, his mum braided the rattail and dev placed it on his shoulder so you could see it in the portrait photo.
in case you were not around in the 80’s and don’t know what a rattail is, here’s a photo.
i am revolted and yet find it endearing at the same time. which means i must love him, because wow. only true love can conquer that visual.
when i was young my dad would play this corny joke with me where we’d go to town and run errands, and then as we walked back to the car he’d act like he couldn’t see the car. with wide-eyed mock panic he’d exclaim: “koosh? neest!” which is iranian for “where is it!? it’s gone!”. and then he’d pretend to be concerned. and i’d go along with it EVERY time even though i knew the car was sitting parked exactly where we’d left it.
i’m probably gonna play lame jokes like these with my future kids. i should apologize to them in advance.
just got a roll of film from my vivitar panoramic processed. here’s one of my favorite shots. literally, a hole in the wall.
i love the silverlake saturday morning farmer’s market. we usually go with whatever small amount of cash we have in our pockets and spend every penny.
today’s purchases included:
a bunch of kale
fresh squeezed OJ
and THIS amazing book for .81cents:
i’ve been pretty blatant about my love for spying faces in everyday objects and now i get texts from all over the world from friends of mine who spy faces as they go about their lives. so i’ve decided to compile them and one day i’ll use them as the imagery for a kid’s book that deals with emotions/feelings. for now they’ll all live here.
we’re not allowed live plants in our apartment (i’ve whined about this before) but currently, i have a bonsai tree fugitive in our kitchen. and i’m deliberating on getting some cacti. i’m such a rule bender. but it’s such a dumb rule.
photo credit: gozde eker
the #1 question that dev, shabs and i get at SoulPancake book signings and events is: “how did you guys all meet?” i’m sure that the people who ask this question are actually trying to figure out how we’re lucky enough to collaborate with their hero, dwight (a.k.a. rainn wilson), but we like to make them sit through the story of how the three of us all are connected as well, which according to devon, goes something like this “shabnam awesomely fell out of the sky…and then (points at me)… i married her”.
and that’s pretty close to the truth. shabs, an experienced journalist, editor, and a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to getting-sh*t-done, joined team SoulPancake in early 2009. her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. the site was being forced to go live because it needed to be up when Rainn was on Oprah, but… it had zero content. so shabs and devon pulled weeks of all-nighters as they created, crafted and scheduled content. since the day shabs jumped on board the SoulPancake rocketship she has been an integral part of the team. SoulPancake truly wouldn’t exist without her.
when we started writing the soulpancake book, dev and i camped out at shabs’ place for a week. we gathered together poster board and markers, books for inspiration and a stockpile of snacks (toe nuts anyone?) and then realized we had no idea where, or how, to start. it was pretty incredible that the three of us, one of which has never read a book cover to cover (ahem. dev), managed to somehow over the course of 9 months birth a book baby that is now a new york times bestseller. woot woot!
over the course of two years, i feel like shabs has become so much more than an invaluable colleague. she is a friend and a co-conspirator. in fact, she feels like family. we’ve shared moments of hilarity, stress, frustration, joy, hurt, disappointment, excitement, adventure and a lack of sleep. we’ve bonded and literally ‘banded’ together (that last reference is for all my persian ladies out there).
i’m so grateful for shabs on a daily basis. i’m so glad that the three of us work as such a cohesive, collaborative, consultative, team. and i’m so glad she shares my penchant for alliteration ;)
happy birthday shabsy.
really high up on my list of favorite things to do is going to the movies. i love the whole experience. the previews. the way the curtain nudges back just a little bit before the feature film. seeing the stranger next to me react. the end credits. i love it all.
but considering i love the movies so much, i haven’t been in a really long time. and i’ve gotten pretty selective about the movies i will pay to see. in fact, after Q coerced us to go to pirhana 3d, i felt like boycotting the entire movie industry. on sunday, however, i saw blue valentine. i thought it was one of the most heart-achingly honest and raw portrayals of a troubled marriage that i’ve ever seen in a movie theater. there were scenes that were so intensely intimate and charged that i felt like i was invading the couple’s privacy, and the acting was so masterful that i honestly forgot that this was all scripted. i left with a feeling somewhere in between sadness & gratitude.
one of the scenes revolves around the couple’s ‘song’ – which i posted below. the whole notion of having a song might seem very 80’s-prom-cliche, but i find it significant. the idea that two people pick one piece of music as their own, and that it becomes a part of their story, is beautiful. ultimately, through it all, the good and the not so good, the young-spontaneous-dancing-in-the-supermarket-aisles-love, and mature sit-on-the-couch-watching-the-news-holding-hands-love, that song goes on the journey also. and perhaps sometimes, when a relationship is strained, that song acts as a reminder that there was this small thing that was agreed on at one point way back when, and maybe it can be a point of connection again.
i just uploaded some of my favorite film photos here. this last batch was taken with my maximatic camera and some expired film. it took 3 photo processing labs to be able to develop the photos. and even though they are grainy and have light leaks and other strange aberrations, i like them.
1. i used to wish i was taller. so much so that i begged my parents to put me on growth hormones. i would come home from drama classes all folorn that i’d never be taken seriously since i was so small. now i’m pretty content with my five feet 2 inch frame.
2. it’s amazing that someone who was such an intrinsic part of my world is now just a memory or at least a series of memories. but it has happened. and it’s a relief.
3. raw honey + whole milk yogurt + almonds = my kind of snack.
4. i’m listening to dev hum as he creates the musical score for the SoulPancake webisodes. he is so dedicated and talented. i’m inspired by the one i’m with on a daily basis.
5. sometimes i stand in front of stacks of neatly arranged fruit and vegetables at the supermarket and am in awe of the vibrant colors and order of it all.
6. i am already excited for the children that we don’t yet have.
7. i miss going to the library and coming out with an armful of books that i couldn’t wait to dive into.
8. sometimes i’m overwhelmed by how fragile life is.
9. i can’t help but touch velvet when i see it. sorry to the strangers in velvet attire.
10. more than ever i’m realizing it’s the moments that matter. i get caught up in the race all too often and i’ve been trying to remember to pause and take it in.