Tag Archives: Sarah Shahi

“The Times We Knew — Who Would Remember Better Than You?”

I prefer writing about strangers.  It’s easier, I think.  

Like the creature of Gisele’s height but Kat Dennings’ build who walked into the mysteriously lit coffee shop yesternight and made me lose track of my thoughts.  She wore a pair of tight, dark blue jeans (which made her sound like a song); and red patent leather high heels.  Her tailored black shirt was unbuttoned on top, generously revealing her lace-bound breasts.  And by the time I slid my gaze up to her exotic face, I swear I began feeling a bit hazy-headed.

“Jeez!” my male companion said over a cup of his Moroccan Mint hot tea, as if blowing his breath over the steaming surface.  Perhaps, he was blushing; but I hadn’t looked at his face for seemingly a million minutes by then.

“Mazel tov!” I mumbled, followed the creature with my eyes.  Then, once she plopped down into the aged couch next to us, I concluded with a “Damn!” — for emphasis.

Her face.  I didn’t really see her face:  The rest of her upstaged it.

But in a story — any story in which she would dictate her own reappearance — I would give her the face of an angel, if angels were born on the coasts of Brazil or India.

Certainly, she would have droopy eyelids with velvety eyelashes, best worn by those smart girls who are always either in the midst of a compassionate tear or a self-deprecating prank.  I would give her a well-carved nose, but on the larger side.  It would be Roman-esque, resonant of the young Sophia Loren.  And it would juxtapose well in relation to her chin which was in the shape of an Italian prune plum.

The lips…  I normally don’t pay attention to the lips.  I just know that most of the time, they complete a  woman’s face perfectly.  Sometimes, the mouth is worth mentioning, but I must see it in action first.  It’s the manner and the breath with which the mouth makes out words that gets my attention.  But by that point, I’m most likely so stricken by the girl’s smarts, that again, I don’t pay attention to the lips.

Yesternight, I didn’t really see her face, but it is her face that would guide me into the fiction of her.  Into the fantasy.

I prefer writing about strangers.  Because it’s easier, I think.

Like when, the other night, I stood in line behind a tall boy who wore a white tee and a pair of slim fit, ripped jeans, he could’ve easily existed — in someone else’s fiction.  But then, his shoes caught my attention:  They were black, lace-up boots with missing laces.  Scuffed and dusty, as if he had just walked miles through sand and perseverance to get here, they reminded me of a pair I once photographed up in the desert.  Those other boots were parked outside a cabin inhabited by a group of outcast artists, and a blue-eyed boy with a Siberian husky.  The boy and I wouldn’t sleep that night; and when the dawn illuminated miles and miles of sand ahead, he peeled on those same boots and rode away on his motorcycle.  The blue-eyed husky would follow him, and I would wish I had memorized his face a little bit better.

The other night, the bottoms of the boy’s ripped jeans where tucked inside each boot, but somehow I knew that despite the nonchalant appearance, it took some careful thought and manipulation to get the job done.  I slid my eyes up his long legs, past the aesthetically, half-tucked tee, and along the shapely back.  I didn’t really see his face, but in a story — any story in which he would dictate his own reappearance — he would have a beauty mark above his lips.  And he would be blue-eyed, of course.

Yes, I prefer writing about strangers.  Because it’s easier, I think.

Like the calm old woman in a burgundy housedress and slippers that reminded me of my grandmother’s pace, the other day:  I saw her walking a girl child, up a tiny hill in Griffith park.  It was overcast, and the fog of the marine layer refused to burn off.  The two of them walked slowly, and I could tell by the curvature of the woman’s spine — over and above the child — that she was quiet and listening to the stories made out by the little mouth.  And so, she reminded me of my grandmother’s pace.

The kiddo wore a gray mouse outfit:  with ears, and a tail; onesie feet and all.  And by the way she walked, with more assurance than the adult in her company, as if leading the way; and by the way she swayed her tiny right hand to punctuate her stories; and by the way she gripped her grandmother’s index finger with the other — she made my heart moan with memories.

I didn’t see the child’s face.  Neither did I see that of the grandmother. 

But in my story — any story in which they would dictate their own reappearance — I bet they would have the details of the face I see in my mirrors.

Because I tend to memorize the faces of my loves with my heart.  And I prefer writing about strangers.  It’s easier, I think, for my empathy to speak — and for my loves to dictate their own reappearance. 

Grace: Unlimited

Heya, Sleepy Heads!

While you’re dreaming out your dreams and rebooting before the start of yet another day — god willing! — I’ve been greeting the sun for you.  (No worries:  It’s not up yet; but when it is, I shall relay the tales of your magnificence.)

And when you do wake, my lovelies, I hope you take the time — I pray you have the time — to tread the ground with baby steps:  rediscovering gravity and balance, not anticipating the next footstep and never missing the ones you’ve already left behind. Hold the ground, my darlings, with every step.  Hold your bloody ground! Hug it with the arches of your soles and it will return you — to your self.  But then, with the next footstep — let go! Somewhere in mid-flight, each foot may find the thrill of courage, and you just may grow a little.

Baby steps, babies!

May you have the patience and the surrender to move at the speed this day will ask of you.  May you keep your eyes on the horizon — for your dreams also arise there, slowly, like the sun, while gradually granting more light to your path.  But if today, you must trip or fall down — no biggie!  Tell your ego to hush-up with its routine embarrassments and other gratuitous tortures, dust yourself off, and keep on — with baby steps.

(Look at that!  The sky is fully lit by now, but the sun is still coyly hiding behind the mountain.  It’s taking taking its time.  Baby steps.)

There was a girl the other day — a woman stranger — who walked into a cafe like any other in LA-LA-LA; but the familiar moves of opening the door, stepping in, negotiating her space in line — she committed them with awareness and authenticity.  Oh, she was luminous!  With not a touch of make-up on her calm face, with her liberated, shoulder-length hair and a simple black jumpsuit that hugged enough of her curvatures and hid the others, she was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s grace and Diane Lane’s sexuality.

The line-up of anonymous writers typing out their dreams at the wall-long booth of the joint stopped in mid-action:

“Who in the world is that?” — we all wondered; then proceeded rummaging through our scripts to fit her in…  Well, at least, that’s what I did.

But the girl remained.  That’s just it:  She remained.  (Baby steps!)  Patiently, with her hands in the pockets of her jumpsuit, she waited for her turn; then for her drink, then a table; then for her girlfriends, who arrived in a pack, with confusion and noise in tow.

“Oh my gosh, hon!” one of the creatures whined, refusing to adjust to the general volume at which the rest of us operated there.  “You look so… cute!”

My Diane Lane was already standing, sincerely leaning into the other women’s embraces while letting the loudmouth to henpeck at her appearance.  “Thank you,” she said.

“What’s this you’re wearing?” the whiny broad insisted on being loud.  “Is this — OH MY GOSH! — is this a jumpsuit?!”

“Yes.  Yes, it is,” the Diane Lane reminiscence said and smiled, ever so lovely.

Wow.  Mesmerized.  I was utterly mesmerized.  All of us were.  The gray-haired Morgan-Freeman-esque writer next to me scoffed, and at noticing my gaze, shook his head and hung it low:  Alas, humanity.  The other women in the group reshuffled either themselves or the chairs around the picnic table; but the loudmouth was still on a trip of her own:

“I wish I could wear that!”  She obviously had some beef with the injustice of her life, her body — her self.

With not a hint of bitchiness or self-defense in her voice, “You can,” said my Lane.

Okay.  Hold-up here!  Is this:  GRACE?  Well, yes.  Yes, it is.  The grace of self-awareness and forgiveness…  Actually, come to think of it (come to recall it), my Diane Lane moved as if she had nothing to forgive.  The pebbles of insecurity that the other woman hurled at our lovely girl bounced off, seemingly leaving not a scratch behind, then obeyed gravity and landed at her feet.  And my Lane remained unscathed, unaffected, unbruised; even lovelier after having to insist on her kindness.  That’s just it.  She remained:  light and weightless, causing no damage on Earth.  She held herself up, never bracing herself out of fear or injustice; treading carefully and kindly, as if this day — was the very first for her to discover.  Baby steps.

Aha:  The sun’s up.  Shall we?

“Where Dem Girls Talkin’ Trash?”

Mornin’, Haters!  Rough night?

I’ve been watching you, you inconveniences of the human race!  You interferences en route to the happiness of my own!  I’ve caught you sticking foreign objects into the spokes of my fellow dreamers’ rides, for reason you don’t even know yourself.  Around this town, you slither, dropping banana peels out of your back pockets as if they were horse shit.  I’ve heard you hiss and gloat at others’ defeat, chiming in your hateful sounds into the collective white noise that hangs above LA-LA like a toxic rainbow.

What?  You think life’s unfair?!  You think you deserve better?!  Perhaps.  Most likely, yes, actually; for life could always be a lil’ bit better, or easier, or more just.  But you’ll be getting bupkis, if you continue to reach for a piece of someone else’s happiness.  You gotta make your own, you see.  Play your own game.  Place your own bets.  Cast your risky ballots.  So, let me do you this favor and tell you what you look like; because no matter how pretty the wrapping, a hater — is always a nature’s disgrace.  Now, you don’t wanna be that, do ya?!

As for you, my magnificent dreamers:  Take notes!

—  A single hater — is easy to pick out; for whatever smoothness they may possess in a social setting, they are always accompanied by a slight stench of discomfort. It may be disguised behind a narrowing of their eyes or a hideous, strained smile.  Beauty always sets off a certain discomfort in their skin.  So, they start shooting the comparing looks and tagging on their own clothes.  That’s the moment in which their self-hatred becomes so unbearable — they better start looking to blame someone else for it.

—  When they speak — insincerity is their spiel. Some of them think they are so suave, with their forced compliments and eager nodding!  All you gotta do — is do The Fake Walkaway. Besides sex, it’s my favorite sport, my gorgeous comrades, and it goes like this:  You wrap up the chat, excuse yourself and swing your proud head in the direction of your fake destination.  Then, count to three and quickly look back.  The spiteful stare that you’ll witness will make your skin crawl, so brace yourself, my dreamers, and start groping for your own forgiveness and esteem.


—  A ballsier hater will address you with a pet name. See the following list:  “honey” or “hun”; “missy” or “Miss Thang”; “look atcha” or that annoying “aah” sound, as if they were looking at babies.

—  Female haters — a special category. To me, it’s the most fascinating and heartbreaking one.  They glare at beautiful girls from behind the rims of their martini glasses.  If confronting beauty face to face, they linger before smiling (if at all!); and even then, that smile is so painful, their faces appear pumped-up with Botox or novocaine.  It is beyond their ability to pay a compliment that’s not back-handed.  Here are some samples:

“Pretty dress,” — (sometimes, they start pecking with their hands at the mentioned frock) — “Whereja get it?  Forever 21?”

“I love your eyebrows!”  They squint and lean in.  “But they’re a bit crooked though.”  And then:  THEY TOUCH YOU!  Some haters are big on touching:  It’s their way of testing just much they can violate your boundary.

“Nice hair!”  “Nice” is a female hater’s favorite adjective; and they say it as if whining a bit.  Sometimes, a “nice” is accompanied by a raising of eyebrows, or a rolling of the eyeballs, or a chuckle.  Other times, they may even pat your shoulder blade.  But on the receiving end of it, these gestures always make you feel like a leper.

—  Some haters hang in packs, kinda like hungry hyenas, waiting for the scraps of a lion’s dinner.  You can always observe them congregate:  hissing at the same round table at Starbucks, or hugging the walls of a dance floor, or giving tiny blow jobs to their cigarettes while being quarantined from the healthier mortals.  In packs, they’re slightly braver and maybe even sadistic.  So, beware when passing them:  Hold your own and be prepared to retaliate!

—  Speaking of a comeback:  The only way to handle a single hater — or a pack of ‘em — is to call ‘em out. Here, the good news is you needn’t be mean or vindictive.  What freaks out a hater the most — is honesty.  So, you see, my glorious creatures, it’s not about defending yourself.  It’s about confronting atrocious human behavior with self-possession and truth. All you do — is call it like it is:

“You sound condescending,” or “Is that a back-handed compliment?” usually gets a hater to panic, for they’re weasely fuckers.

“Is there a problem?” or “Do you have something to say to me?” just might give ‘em a heart attack.

But I must confess here:  It’s a little bit fun to watch them scramble for excuses and less than eloquent explanations of their original meanings.  It’s the only pleasure I get out of handling a hater, bare-handedly.

Besides that, my beautiful boys ‘n’ girls — you dreamers that make this fucking planet worth treading! — I treat dem haters like a herpes-infected piece of chewed-up and discarded gum:  Avoid touching ’em with my hands, scrape ‘em off the bottom of my fancy shoe and leave ’em on the side of the road!


“If You Feelin’ Like a Pimp — Go ‘n’ Brush Your Shoulders Off!”

Good morning, you courageous creations of Nature!  You Herculeses of fate!  You wander-lusty Amazons of the world!

My beloved quirky dreamers stepping into the spot normally occupied by my Inspiration (for that Amazon wander-lusts a lot on my bohemian ass!).  My gypsy friends with messy heads of curls telegraphing your love via the Northern winds.  You curious hearts refusing to give up on charity or love.  You soldiers willing to rest only in my company while stretching your exhausted thighs underneath my pine table loaded with a homemade feast.

My Angles, my Black Birds; my Peter Pans and Wendys; my Little Princes and their Brave Roses.  My Shivas.  My Bad Asses.  My Hearts.

Where in the frigging fuck are we all running to?

“Gotta do something!  Gotta be somebody!” you tell me.

I bet it is your ambition and your courageous pursuit of your dreams that makes me adore you.  But I have seen some of you slip up — but never crumble — on the way to your conquests; and in those vulnerable seconds I could NOT have loved you more.  Because it is in the way you chuckle when you pick yourself up; the way you rise up again, albeit embarrassed; the way you mend your torn-up clothes — with dignity of kings!; the way you bite your lower lips when I tend to your scratches; and the way you brush off your shoulders from the hail of the words of haters — in all that you teach me the merely invisible line between pride and dignity.  And then you take off again, pushing yourself with your impatience, or your fear of not mattering.

“Gotta get somewhere!  Gotta become something!”

Last night, a beloved woman best compared to my personal Mother Teresa was beating herself up in our phone conversation.  She has experienced motherhood late in life, and instead of living for the sake of her daughter alone — she went back to school.  Astonishing!  Off she went, my kindest LA-LA heart, pulling along a full-time job, a full-time class schedule — and a frigging stroller.

“I’ve got to do this for my daughter!” she flagellated the soft skin of her back with her frustration at the current, undeserving employer and her impatience with the world’s injustices; and the self-imposed pressure to be a better parent.

The last time I’ve encountered that mentioned girl-child, born so smart she conjugates her verbs better than most grown-ups she meets at her play-dates, she wasn’t asking her mother to become better.  Her mother’s time — was all she wanted.  And who could blame her:  In the company of my girlfriend, every person feels fully received, understood and unconditionally accepted.  Oh so many times, my red-headed Mother Teresa had gotten an earful from me about the errors of my underserving men or my own sins against my self-worth.  Yet, she remained nonjudgemental, kind — just the way a mother is supposed to be.  So, the only thing I miss about her these days — is her company.  Her time.  Her very being.  To me, she is perfectly enough; and I bet that little brilliant child of hers feels the same way.

“Well!  I’ve gotta do this, for myself!” my favorite redhead concluded last night, after a couple of my meek objections.

A’right!  NOW we’re talkin’!  The most stubborn advocate of learning, I shall not disagree with this woman’s ambition to better herself — but she better not pull that sacrifice card on me, or on her child.  Do it for yourself, your own high expectations of your humanity.  But in the mean time, please:  Treat yourself with a lil’ bit more kindness, will you?

Now, I wish I would live by my own sermon, my comrades.  Having skipped out on sufficient sleep for a month now, I am tearing through time that passes way too quickly while my dreams seem to move way too slowly, crashing the face of every clock I encounter on my way like a petulant child who’s not fond of hearing “Nyet!”.  With each new wrinkle underneath my exhausted eyes, I’ve been chalking-up the sacrifices committed for the sake of my future, accomplished and seemingly overall better self.

Gotta, gotta, gotta!” I mutter in my lover’s bed; and he — Shiva bless him! — tangles up his callused, manly hand in my hair and whispers me to sleep.

Okay!  I promise:  Tomorrow I shall rest!

…Yet already, my to-day’s heavy schedule is scratching at the front door, like a homeless, scrawny cat I’ve made a poor choice to feed every once in a while.  The sound of everything I’ve “gotta” do is speeding-up my heartbeat and making me slightly nauseous with anxiety.  Just like always, I bet I shall accomplish every one of my “gotta’s” with grace and efficiency; and when I do, I promise to celebrate with a cup of brutally-brewed black Russian tea, with brown honey.  And during my rest stops — my breathing breaks — I shall let my beloveds remind me of my magnificence and demand my time and company; for it is in the shared moments of slowness that I tend to feel most accomplished and merely enough.

But tomorrow, my beautiful dreamers, my curious bystanders and compassionate witnesses — tomorrow, I promise to do this, all friggin’ day:

 

Pardon You?!

Dear Ex-Whatevers:

I’ve had you on my ego’s mind lately.  Blame it on the current era of my life in which I’ve finally stepped up to my self-copyrighted standards and reached for what I’ve deserved all along; but my ego’s little trip these days is to be witnessed by those that have tripped me up before.

“See!  I’m still walking!” it wants to throw over the shoulder at those I’ve left behind.

While I was never the one to lack dreams, these days I’ve finally harnessed the courage to get me to them.  Although the manifestations of success are still audible primarily to me — there are no manuscripts published yet, no dream jobs to speak of, no gypsy journeys committed around the world to reunite with my heritage — but oh how close I am to becoming what I was always supposed to be!  (The bitchy irony here, of course, is that my lacks, my insufficiencies were self-manufactured all throughout.  I am the reason I’ve slowed down before.  I am the one to trip myself up.)

“See:  Still standing!” my ego wishes to telegraph to the past players who had no comprehension, patience, or — let’s just be honest here! — acceptance for the girl I was always becoming.

But why?!

“Why the hell are you dwelling on the fuckers?” the stronger, wiser girls of mine bitch-slap my slower Self who, truth be told, can be a real sucker.

They are correct:  The memories of the past losses — and the last asses — tend to slow down my step.  But there is “a method to my madness,” I realize:  FORGIVENESS.  Fucking forgiveness!  The bitch is high-maintenance, isn’t it?!  One can earn herself bloody blisters and very high bills from her shrink when chasing it.  Forgiveness demands work, and it is the type of work that comes with no owner’s manual.  It is only between you and you; and despite your girlfriend’s or mother’s endless advice, only you can do the heavy lifting of brutal honesty and self-knowledge.

But what even I didn’t comprehend, despite the three decades of fucking around and being fucked with — is that forgiveness is a bloody chameleon.  Not only does forgiveness vary depending on its owner and that owner’s past; not only does it take an encyclopedia of diverse methods to access — but it changes along with you. If, immediately after the loss, it feels right to be angry while maintaining a distance between you and the wrongdoer — then, at that moment, that is all forgiveness is meant to be.  After months of copying, it may change to a feeling of lightness (and maybe an occasional nausea at the sound of your ex’s name) — then, that is forgiveness at that moment.  For some, eliminating all contact with an ex is the way to go; and that little imaginary death is their way.  I always aspired to be the fuckin’ Mother Teresa with my ex-fuckers — tending to our friendships for the sake of the lessons, and the stories, and the blah-blah-blah.  No matter how idiotic it appeared to my girls, that — was my forgiveness.

Oh sure, I wish I were the type of a girl to let Beyonce simplify my emotional baggage via her lyrics of arrogant feminism or angry regret:

“And keep talking that mess, that’s fine!

But could you walk and talk at the same time?!”

Uhm-hmm:  to the left, to the left!

But you see, though, my comrades:  I like digging through the mess for answers — sometimes doubled over because the pain has taken the wind out of me — and get my hands nice ‘n’ dirty.  I’m more of a Nina Simone gal:  well lived-in, well-used, wrathful, self-sufficient and little bit insane; writing her lyrics with a nose-bleed and a foaming mouth:

“I hold no grudge

And I forgive you your mistakes.

But forgive me if I take it all to heart

And make sure it doesn’t start again.”

But alas!  Here is a little “aha” moment for V, as of very recently:  Despite the ego’s desire to be witnessed by those whose mistakes have gotten me here — I want no part of them. For a change, I’ve lost all desire to carry the baggage.  Can’t I just check it in somewhere?!  Yes, I can:  on my bloody pages!  Commemorating my exes on the blank canvases of my own is my way of honoring them; and I may even feel a pinch of gratitude for those tales of defeat — but that, my dear ex-whatevers, my fuckin’ ghosts, is as far as we go.  I’ll let the ego telegraph my successes when the unconscious is activated at nighttime, behind my closed eyelids; but those smoke signals shall be the only ones sent your undeserving way.

So, take it away, Nina:

“I’m the kind of people

You can hurt once in a while.

But crawling — just ain’t my style:”