Saturday, May 21, 2011

rapture isn't a date on the calendar, it's a way of life

If a day comes that I am to be judged, it won't be a judgement of the time I spent in genuflection or paying lip service. It will not be for my political or social views. In fact, I don't think it will even have to do with whether or not I think any sort of god exists or what exactly I think "god" is. 

It will be for the dirt under my fingernails from nurturing my garden and the Earth.

It will be for the callouses on my hands from working hard for myself and my family.

It will be the paint smudge on my nose from giving light to my creative spirit.

It will be for my stretch marks and the beauty of giving life.

It will be for my scars, both visible and non, as proof that I took risks, failed, and had the strength to heal.

It will be for the egg on my face from daring to be myself in a society of conformity.

It will be for the lines around my eyes from daring to laugh, even at times when I feel like crying.

It will be for the bags underneath my eyes from late nights with my lover and much-too-early mornings with my children.

It will be for my tear-stained sleeve from offering a shoulder to cry on.

It will be for the wine spilled on my dress from celebrating everything and nothing at all.

To live life simply jumping through hoops for the pretense of a life after death misses the point of the life we are given now, which is the only thing any of us can be sure of.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

a caffeinated romance

When I first wake to the fading pastels of dawn, when the chill of the dark is still settled on the world, before I can even begin to think about my day, I reach for my sultry Sumatran lover. I wrap myself around this radiating warmth as my senses awaken one by one. Oh how I love the full body, dark and rich, with just the right amount of sweet. I am not the only one taking solace in this strength each morning, and I do not mind. Millions share our passion and understand my need. They are lining up at Starbucks and in break rooms to embrace in routine rendezvous. I am referring, of course, to coffee. Also known lovingly as mud, sludge, rocket fuel, java, or plain ol’ cuppa joe. Just like me, people worldwide have found themselves immersed in this caffeinated romance.

And who can blame us? Like a Siren’s song, its robust aroma pulls you in, but not to rocky cliffs, instead into warm inviting kitchens and trendy coffeehouses. For centuries this seemingly simple little seed has stimulated the world. Stimulating global trade, starting from Arabia, going to Italy and radiating around the world. Stimulating our bodies, driving the workforce of the planet—construction workers, scientists, white-collar executives. Stimulating the creative minds of students, of artists, of inventors. It even inspired Johan Sebastian Bach to write a “Coffee Cantata.”

It is undeniable that there is something special about coffee. Its presence is found in religious realms, not only gaining notoriety amongst certain Christian and Muslim branches, but being exalted in religious rites and indigenous folklore. Its complexity and diversity has given a home to the brooding counter-culture of the beatnik, and birthed the social status associated with, say, a Venti Triple Half-caf Skinny Macchiato with Light Foam. Yet its simplicity has facilitated the dating game, alleviating the stress of a dinner date with it’s non-committal counterpart “Let’s grab a coffee sometime.”

Coffee is the proverbial ‘man for all seasons’ generously igniting the flame that starts each day, rekindling it with an afternoon pick me up, and giving fodder for a fire burning late into the night. It is as casual as a quick sip and a chat in the break room, as fun as a frozen treat for midsummer swelter, and as sophisticated as a layered cappuccino served with a silver spoon. Coffee has given selflessly to the world, and to me. I can honestly say that without coffee, I would not be here today—I would still be asleep in bed.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

a short essay on productivity

    Becoming a mother has epitomized the word “productive” for the last five years of my life.  Ask any parent and they will likely tell you that having a child is, by far, their hardest yet most rewarding accomplishment.  On the surface it seems so idyllic, one more part of the American Dream, but really, it’s a messy job at best.  During the course of a typical day I spend much time trying to get something, anything done--trying to feel productive--but what it comes down to is simply trying to keep up with the two adorable, counterproductive, tornadoes I call my boys.
    One could say that this recent phase of productivity has my world turned upside down, however, I’m a “glass half full” kind of person, so I will say it finally turned things right-side up.  It redefined so many aspects of life, from loving and giving, to being and doing.  I gave up opportunities to be productive in other ways and in their place found a love that is so easy to give and receive, yet that makes me want to work harder than ever to cultivate it.  I gained new perspective on being: being mindful, patient, forgiving, and being in the moment, which they have taught me is invaluable.  And last but not least, it redefined “doing” which is a list a million miles long; a daunting task, even to the most super-human, vacuum-toting, apron-heels-and-lipstick wearing, Stepford Wife. I have added to that interminable to-do list a part-time job (sometimes two), volunteer work, and, now, a college degree with aspirations of a career.
   So, sometimes being productive is a real, tangible thing, noted (unglamorously, I might add) by clothing washed, bills paid, groceries procured, and meals prepared.  Mostly, though, I have found it to be abstractly measured in toys mended, owies kissed, noses wiped, morning hugs and kisses good night.  I still have goals and dreams, most notably my education and career.  I still aspire to better the status quo, at least for my little corner of the world.  And, I will keep checking things off of my to-do list.  But for me,  for now, my most productive days are those that I survive until bedtime, where I tuck in those precious little bodies tired from doing what they do best-- giving me a reason to be productive.

Monday, November 9, 2009


In this moment I am
the shadows dancing on the wall
of the sun and leaves
blissfully unaware that each could not be
without the other one.

In this moment I am
calm and peace and light
from the soft breath of babes in dreams
knowing only a love that grows
nurtured in the gentle rocking of a chair

In this moment I am
not the laundry in the hall,
nor tomorrow's shimmering gleams,
devoid of dwelling on how we disagree
or where this all began

In this moment I

Thursday, September 24, 2009

hello, my name is Tahirih and I'm an addict

I have been an addict for two and a half years.
I used to find release in it, a way to feel more connected to the world.  I found that there were others like me. we could joke about our "addiction." I can quit anytime I want.  It's like an off switch, just flip it and I'm done. Right?  I just don't want to be done yet. 
I enjoy it.
If I'm having a bad day, I can just sit down and unwind for a while.  If the kids are screaming, I have an excuse to ignore them for a bit. 
Until that little bit became more and more.
It started infringing upon my daily activities. chores. cooking. cleaning. You know, all those things that are part of maintaining a household. 
Now I do it even when my husband is around.  My 3 year old has started commenting on my habit.
I feel bad. I know I should stop.  Just walk away.  But.  But.  Just one more? 
Just one more.
Until that one becomes two. three. four.
Each day I can find a new reason to keep coming back.  I know that time is slipping through my fingers.  Sliding faster and faster. Each grain of sand a moment.  Wasted?  But nonetheless one I cannot get back. 
I contemplate it each morning, afternoon and evening.  Is this what I should be doing right now?
But I am attracted to it, like a moth to a flame.  I look for that comforting glow, that soothing click. click.
All I have to do is find that little red 'X'. That's all.
But my fingers look for one more thing.  That's all.  Just one more.

I will do better tomorrow.  That is all I can tell myself. 

Hi.  My name is Tahirih, and I'm addicted to the internet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

the irony of baby proofing

I decided to baby proof my kitchen today.  This is a tricky endeavor for a several reasons.  One, I am more than likely to forget that I've done it, yank a door open and inevitably break a fingernail. And, knowing me, it will happen more than once.  Two, I live with two adult males who can barely manage to get dishes put away as it is, let alone with any further obstacles.  We have solid oak cabinets-- not so friendly to the cheap little screws that come with the cabinet latches.  And, furthermore, I have decided to attempt this endeavor while both kids are awake and no other adults are present. *Disclaimer- do not try this at home*

So it begins....

Door number one: Glass bakeware and plastic baggies. 
I get the kit open, find my ratcheting screwdriver, glance at the instructions.  Okay Ms. Fix-it, here we go!  I reach for a matching hook and clasp and peel the adhesive strips from their backing, then from my finger, then from my other finger, then... it's time to peel the second side, but I miss the wax paper and peel the whole strip off. Then repeat. And repeat. I get the pieces aligned and right side up, reach for a screw.  They are preserved better than the original Declaration of Independence in their hermetically sealed baggie.  I grasp the sides.... pulling.... stretching....  almost.. there..  POP!  The bag erupts as forcefully as a host body in a Sigorney Weaver film sending tiny, sharp, little screws bouncing and rolling around my kitchen.  My kids dive for them as though a parade float has just rolled by.  (Did I mention this package is big enough to proof every cabinet in the house with four screws apiece?)  I'm on the floor.  Scrambling, grunting, reaching, grabbing, knocking children over like a fat kid under the pinata...

Door number two: Trash and cleansers. This time I'm on top of things.  I have four screws neatly aligned, complete mastery of sticky adhesive squares, hammer for starting screws aside one small nail, handy-dandy ratcheting screw driver, and I'm off!  "MOM!!!  I'M STUCK!!!"  I look up to see my three year old with one of my belts around his naked waist and its tail looped, tucked and knotted to the cupboard below the fish tank. He's yanking and flailing and the fish are preparing for a tsunami as I rush over.  Untying him, taking enough time only to shake my head and smile; I no longer bother asking what, why, or how.  Determined to get through this project I head back to the kitchen where my toddler has suddenly become interested in carpentry.  We wrestle over the hammer and I shoo him away. Screeching like a toddler scorned, he finds the lazy susan.  It's too late to intervene now. I've got the screws in, I'm working muscles I didn't know I have forcing this screw into loudly protesting cabinetry. Zinging past my head, out come the noodles, out comes the flour, baking powder and cheese sauce.  Out comes the cocoa mix, and, like a shark smelling blood, Lakai appears. "Don't open that, please, sweetie," I say, my sugary sweet words falling on voluntarily deaf ears, no match for the promise of a chocolatey treat.  "Please don't open tha--"  Ttttthhhhhwak, the seal breaks.  I'm turning the screw fervently, but not fast enough.  "Look, mom! I dipped my fingers.  It tateses good.  You want some?" 

Door number three: Tupperware. (Not that this drawer contains anything dangerous or breakable, I'm just tired of picking dog hair out of my leftovers.) This is actually a drawer, posing new angles and new obstacles. I pull the drawer completely out and place it on the floor next to me.  I turn my head to the side, tongue pointing deliberately from the corner of my mouth, like a curious puppy.  I size up the angles, and begin. Again, my progress is brought to a screeching halt as the two brothers begin rolling, pushing, pinching, screaming.  "Are you really fighting over an empty cup?" So I referee, tuck in my whistle and head back to the kitchen, Jevan following, leaving his glowering brother safely behind.  He spots the loose drawer and immediately recognizes his favorite playthings.  I'm balancing a screw on the tip of the driver, ineptly attempting to complete my task.  Jevan the opportunist climbs into the drawer, and one by one uproots the containers once neatly stacked by shape and size, tossing them jubilantly watching how far they roll and bounce around our workspace, marveling at how much dog hair they amass on a freshly swept floor.  I sigh and look up to a proud, toothy grin.  I go to check on a crash from another room and return as my husband walks in the door.  Looking concerned he asks, "What happened here?" "Baby-proofing," I reply simply.  He laughs.  "No, I'm serious..."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

my day as of 10 a.m.

I force my eyes open and through the filtered twilight in my room stare at the clock in disbelief. 7:12 am. I am greeted by a one year old who quickly decides that he'd rather play than snuggle, who is in turn greeted by a sleep deprived daddy who is less than amused by Jevan's playful antics.  Apparently he doesn't appreciate being a jungle gym right now.

So, I rise, skillfully pulling on a hoodie while still holding the baby.  We tiptoe downstairs, already with a to-do list-- coffee.  I get Jevan settled with some toys and take a sip of fresh-brewed life-sustaining nectar (with a splash of Chocolate Eclair creamer) and feel the stirrings of my days ambition.  I decide to make chocolate chip banana bread, and while that is baking my mind wanders... I look around the house and my thoughts are quickly brought out of the intoxicating dreamland to the reality that I have company coming to stay and my house, well, looks like I have two kids and a dog.  I reluctantly leave the sanctuary of the keyboard and my coffee and reach for the dust rag. 

One room down and I am hailed from the top step by a sleepy-eyed Lakai.  Carry me, he says.  We come down and again I reach for the dust rag.  Don't put me down, he says.  So I bend, and twist and reach, contorting in ways only a mom can to get the dust off the window sills behind the couch and off the piano.  The oven dings, and my back and arms are relieved for the time being.

I pull breakfast from the oven.  You makin brownies, Mom?  Nope! I say. It's banana bread. I NOT LIKE BANANA BREAD! I WANT BROWNIES!  Well. I glance down at him matter-of-factly, We're not having brownies.  Why?  Because we don't eat brownies for breakfast.  Why?  Because...  (I pause. Brownies for breakfast really does sound amazing right about now) WHY?  So I give him the most honest answer I can think of.  Because we're out.

We decide on oatmeal while the bread cools, and Lakai concedes that banana bread is an acceptable substitute for brownies.  I find Jevan, who has occupied himself playing with a dog toy, and strap him into his highchair.  I look through a row of small glass jars and decide we'll see what he thinks of pureed mango. I sneak a bite into his mouth between fistfuls of cheerios.  He reciprocates with a wrinkled nose and a shake of his head.  Undaunted, I go for bite two.  And the crowd goes wild! It's in! SCOOOOOOORRRRE!  Whew. Half a jar down, and he starts grappling for the spoon.  Okay, I say.  You do it.  I load up the spoon and hand it to him.  He opts not to grab the handle, but the small mound of yellow mush, then notices his foot resting against the tray. He grabs his toes, firmly squeezing them and I see mango squish between his toes. Awesome.  After a few minutes of him mauling the spoon I am able to divert his attention and grab it back. My attempt at reentry is thwarted as slimy fingers wind their way between mine and grasp the spoon.  This time it goes into his mouth sideways, like a dog carrying a bone.  Over my shoulder I hear Lakai.  We have piqued his interest enough that he has stopped chanting "Diarrhea" and giggling at himself to watch as Jevan dodges my grab for the spoon, flicking tropical goop across the kitchen and sticks the spoon back between his four large teeth.  He looks at me, wrinkles his nose and gives a triumphant grin.  Breakfast is over.