Tag Archives: Sepi

two months!

Holy maroly, it’s been almost two months since I posted here. Is anyone still checking on me here? If you have been, thank you. I’m going to try to briefly explain what has happened.

Sepi and I moved into our new home Sept 1. It was her home for many years but she has only lived in a small apartment in the house for around 9 years. The larger part of the house has been rented to a succession of tenants. Our first day was spent ripping out the old carpet and hauling new flooring up to the main living area. Two weeks later, I moved myself out of my apartment. The floor wasn’t done so everything was provisional.

I worked on the floor as I had time but I was quite busy with work so it went slowly. It wasn’t until the first weekend of October that we cracked Sepi’s stored furniture in the garage and brought it upstairs

(draft from November 2018. Now I can let two months go by without writing about it. I still feel bad, but I don’t write about it.)

gifts

We’ve gotten a lot of gifts for our wedding but today I want to talk about some gifts we gave to others. Specifically, a gift we gave to our officiant, Willie Brown.

Willie, of course, is the classic man who has everything. Sepi and I had coffee on Sunday with another politician who knows Willie. We asked what she thought. She was a stumped as we were. ‘A tie?’, was all she could come up with.

We went to Macys, then Nordstrom, looking for ties without success. Even the nicer ones were made in China and I wasn’t going to give Mayor Willie Brown a tie made overseas. Sepi texted back to her friend our dilemma and got back an address in the outer Sunset.

Well, it’s Sunday afternoon after 3 pm. Our meeting with Willie was the next day. We didn’t want to wait the gift until the day of the wedding; there would be too much else happening then. So, we headed out to the Sunset.

In the Sunset nowadays there are mini neighborhood centers all over. This was one of them. A block with a hip restaurant, a gift shop, a church, a yoga place, a surf shop . . . and another little shop with what appeared to be more gifts.

I still had ties on my mind so I was puzzled when I went in. I didn’t see any ties! Well, I was here, I might as well see what they had.

It wasn’t a gift shop, except in the very broad sense of the word. It was the shop of an artist couple: a painter and her print-maker husband. Their paintings and prints were all San Francisco themed. Sepi liked the one that was an image of a bear holding a map of California with the slogan ‘I Love California’.

(a draft from 4 days before the wedding. Amazing that I got even this much done. I was sure I had a photo of Willie and Sepi and the painting but I can’t find it.)

Farsi

I was going to write about learning Farsi, but just as I was getting started, Sepi got her phone call from distant parts. Today, it’s Tehran, Gothenburg, and Kish Island (Iran). I wouldn’t be surprised to see Farideh from Montreal showing up any time. It’s ‘The Gang’, Sepi’s phrase for her sisters and cousins who talk regularly via WhatsApp.

Almost always just women, they usually start their call by asking about ‘Daryoosh!’ I learned early on how to say ‘hello’, ‘how are you’ and ‘I am fine, thank you’ in Farsi.

Unfortunately, I seemed to be stalled there. Sepi told me the other day how to say, ‘It’s nice to see you,’ but it hasn’t stuck. I found a really nice web site with Farsi phrases but almost never go to it. You’d think I’d be motivated to learn with all these interesting Farsi speakers to talk to.

The calls are almost always fun, with several people talking at once in happy voices. There have been serious moments, such as when Sepi’s aunt was dying last summer but mostly it’s just people happy being together. One cousin got COVID but seems to have gotten through the worst of it. Sepi’s sister, Mali, was sad when her niece left Iran for Canada but she puts on a brave face. Mali’s own children – with a grandchild on the way – are all still in Tehran.

I’ll keep at it. It’s likely that there will be many more such calls in the months ahead. We can’t go to Iran, but Canada and Sweden are on our short list of places to visit when it is safe to do so.

The other day, Badri, who lives in Gothenburg, tried to teach me some Swedish words. Aieee!

Ear wax

I remember clearly the first time I saw my own ear wax. The first great California drought I experienced was in 1977 and 1978. Like a good citizen I cut down on my showers. One day I noticed that one of my ears was plugged up to the extent that I couldn’t hear at all on that side.

At the doctor’s office, they put some stuff in my ears and had me sit in the waiting room for a while. I remember it as quite a while, perhaps half an hour, after which I was brought back into the examining room. They had me hold up a cup-like thing to my ear and took a thing like a 409 bottle and stuck it in my ear and commenced to squirt.

Shortly they were done and I could hear again! Miraculous!

Then the doctor showed me what was in the cup. Aiee! It was a huge black, greasy-looking cylindrical thing about a half inch long!

‘That came out of my ear?’ I was dumbfounded. I had no idea such things existed. Then they did the other ear and another greasy black thing, not quite so large, came out of that one.

Over the years since, I’ve come to realize that my ears generate wax and must be cleaned out periodically. Recently, I’ve mostly gotten it  done along with my annual physical. I thought I had it done in January but I can’t remember for sure.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I felt that familiar sensation of my ear plugging up. I didn’t want to go to the doctor now just for that so I looked into what was available OTC. Sarah told me about a squirt system she had used that sounded like the one the doctors used so I got one.

Today I got it out and got everything ready. After I had left the drops in for a while, I got Sepi to come over and run the squirt bottle. She was almost to the end of the water when the big plug came out. She was dumbfounded! She had no idea such things existed!

Sepi is very worldly so when I show here something she’s never seen before, it’s worth mentioning. My astonishment from 40+ years ago was somewhat validated.

Now she wants her ears cleaned out!

My other family

There was another milestone event today in Sepi’s family – my other family. Farideh, Sepi’s sister in Montreal, has been trying to get her daughter Sara to come to Canada from Tehran for some time now. Sara’s travel arrangements were complicated by the fact that she wanted to bring her 12 year old son with her. Not to mention complications due to coronavirus!

Sara had been all set to come in August, but at the last minute there was a snag and she had to stay in Tehran. After much agonizing, Sara had decided to come ahead this weekend even if it meant leaving her son in Tehran. She bought tickets for two, though, and they both went to the airport yesterday with hope in their hearts.

At the last minute, the authorities allowed Samyar to board the plane! Joy was spread across three continents! Sepi and I embarked on a marathon FlightRadar24 viewing session. We ‘watched’ the plane take off from Tehran, cross the Persian Gulf and land in Qatar, then a couple of hours later take off from Qatar and head for Montréal.

This morning, when we picked up the track they were over the North Atlantic. We ‘watched’ them as they first made landfall over Newfoundland, then crossed the top of Maine and landed safely in Montréal.

Through the miracle of modern communications – mostly WhatsApp video calls, we were able to be in nearly constant touch with Sepi’s sisters in Montréal and Tehran. Farideh’s joy over the prospect of seeing her daughter for the first time in three years is tempered by Mali’s sadness over losing her niece. Mali’s daughter is grief stricken as the two girls are almost the same age and are very close.

Sara is only on a visitor’s visa so she will most likely have to return to Iran but Farideh’s goal is to get her permanent residency in Canada. Once Sara and Samyar are out of quarantine they will be working on that. There will be some big hugs first, though!

family

This is really Sepi’s story but she doesn’t have a blog and I think it’s really cool so I’m going to tell it. The best part, anyway.

Sepi came to the US in her early 20s. Growing up in Tehran, she had always wanted to be here and she did it despite the fears of the family for her safety. They helped her out but, especially after the revolution, communication became very difficult. After Sepi got elected to the City Council it was even dangerous. She only went back twice in over 30 years. Two of her brothers live in Southern California and she kept in touch with them but not the other siblings in Iran.

She knew one sister had emigrated a couple of years ago to Canada. Toronto, she thought. Her niece went too, but to another city, maybe Quebec. She wasn’t sure. And there were some other cousins in Sweden.

Another sister and another brother were still in Tehran. Eleven and a half time zones away.

Last year, we heard about a messaging app called Telegram. It was supposed to be super secure and used by many people in Iran because of that. We signed on and had some nice text conversations with her brother and sister and their kids. But one cousin was always posting links to pop songs and long diatribes in Farsi so we opted out.

Then, one day in April, Sepi’s phone rang. Somewhere along the line she had installed another messaging app called WhatsApp and her sister in Canada was calling her using it.

It was a video call! And her other sister in Tehran was on it too! I happened to be right beside her when this all happened. I couldn’t understand anything they were saying but I could hear the joy in their voices and I could see the tears in their eyes. They chattered back and forth for quite a while, at least 15 minutes, before regretfully signing off.

The best part is that Farideh kept calling. Sometimes the brother in Tehran was on, sometimes the brothers in Southern California came on. There were (at different times) nieces and nephews and cousins on these wonderful cacophonous conversations across thousands of miles. They all got a good look at me and decided I was OK.

Sepi calls me Christopher most of the time and that seemed to be a name that confused the Farsi speakers so I got to choose a Persian name. Someone suggested Cyrus so I thought of Persian kings and decided I liked Darius better. I especially like the Persian pronunciation, Dar-YOOSH.

Now we have long conversations several times a week. We’ve clarified a lot of family ancestor information. We’ve gone for a virtual walk around Farideh’s neighborhood in Montreal (not Toronto). We got to talk to a cousin yesterday who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was sad, but talking to Sepi made her happy. Some of these people hadn’t seen her since she was a teenager.

I listen carefully and am becoming able to pick out a few words here and there. Sepi sometimes translates as we go. Otherwise she fills me in after the call is over.

The calls make me happy every time!

memories

Day 54 yesterday. Sepi and I went to Santa Clara yesterday. We saw Mom for the first time since early March. No touching, but we sat in the patio and chatted for a while. I brought some salt for the water softener.

After we got home I was spinning through FaceBook and saw that it was Noah’s birthday . . .

11 years old and he’s still the spitting image of Zach, at least to my eyes.

And once again, I am so pleased that he has a stable home environment to grow up in. Ally and Dave are terrific parents.

Well, the whole thing prompted some pillow talk with Sepi. She didn’t remember the story of how we found out about Noah and how Ally and Dave brought him up to Michigan to meet the family. What a tremendous thing that was! I believe I’ve documented here how difficult it was for me to accept him for what he was.

I still love Dave’s simple comment: ‘I’m the Dad.’

So this morning the power went out and I couldn’t work on the big computer as I had been planning so I picked up the iPad. This is the one that had belonged to Zach and still has some foibles related to his ownership. It still has access to his Google Drive even though I do not have the password.

It isn’t his regular Google Drive account. I got all the stuff off of that early on. This one – I think – was for his research into gender roles in intramural sports. It has videos of some IM flag football games. When I looked at them this morning I thought, these have no value to anyone any more. I deleted a couple, then noticed the date: November 10. Aiee!

Now I’m not sure – still, after all this time! – that I should be deleting anything. Then, when I went to crop the photo, I noticed that the dates were 2014. You probably can’t tell on this tiny photo but they’re all October and November 2014. Oh well. I haven’t heard from his thesis advisor since about six months after Zach’s death. He was going through some pretty serious changes then. I’m going to go ahead and delete them.

It’s even possible that I already sent this stuff to Alex and I don’t even remember doing it.

The only other thing of interest is Zach’s account name. He actually made two of them, both named Tom Brady with emails of woodrowreasearch and woodrowreasearch1@gmail.com. I haven’t tried to get into those accounts. I spent a lot of time in the first year going through Zach’s real emails and cleaning up things there. Whatever is in that inbox is way out of date. If someone else knows how to get into it and finds something of value, please let me know.

Or not.

Day 55.

day 36. ‘Thank you for your service.’

I’ve written about this idea before. The idea that only our military is performing a service that is worthy of special thanks has always rankled me. Now, in the time of COVID-19, we are discovering that there are others who serve that are equally, if not more, important.

Someone commented on FaceBook, right after the restrictions went into place and the stock market lost 20% of its value, ‘Maybe it’s the workers who are providing value after all!’

Grocery workers, delivery people including those who bring food to the grocery stores, and of course medical people are being appreciated more now than ever before. Does that mean they’re being paid better? In some cases, yes, but in others, no.

Amazon, owned by the richest man on the planet – and by the way getting richer by the minute – has fired workers who have tried to get better working conditions.

In my business, there is a growing realization that large gatherings such as Davies Hall concerts and big conventions may be months away, not weeks. The one thing that I always thought was most basic, the need for humans to gather in groups, has been blown up. I’m starting to see come comments that indicate awareness of the psychological shoals we are swimming in. There was a story today in the news about how liquor and pot stores are doing very well. Online gambling is surging.

Some are expressing hope that some kind of new order will emerge from all this. Will we humans learn to respect the earth and strive less? Honestly, I am skeptical.

But hopeful.

Day 36. The existing shelter in place order here in the Bay Are ends on May 3rd. That would be day 50.

But if the venue can’t reopen, I don’t have a job to go back to.

As I said early on, I have a roof over my head, the electricity, water and Internet are working, Sepi has a lot of food in the freezers here. I am thankful for all of that and more. No one in my family has gotten sick. If the worst we have to cope with is being stir crazy sometimes, I’ll take it.

I’m hopeful.

community

I don’t have a plan today. I have time to write. Lots of it, although I did say I wanted to get out and take a walk before the rain starts. It’s cloudy and blustery right now, but patches of blue are still showing through.

Teresa’s birthday is tomorrow. Jane has set up a Zoom meeting for all of us to join virtually to celebrate. I gather Zoom is an app like Skype but oriented more around groups.

So I am thinking about community. Sepi and I are spending a lot of time on FaceBook. Why? Because we crave community. I believe it is hard wired into the human animal. That is why slowing the spread of this disease is so difficult.

In my case, my course of action was pretty straightforward. First it was no groups of 1000, then 500, then 100, then 10. Now in Germany, no groups of more than 2 – 2 people! – are allowed to gather in public. The Symphony at one point was going to do a radio broadcast of a concert with no audience but then the number was changed down to 100. It takes 10 or 15 people to put the orchestra on stage and the band is about 100 so . . . no radio broadcast. In fact, no nothing. We’ve all been sent home.

My craft, my industry is dead in the water because the whole thing is predicated on people gathering. It seemed to simple and foolproof only a few weeks ago.

Maybe at some point, concerts will be redefined as essential services and allowed to go on. Although as my friend Kim said in another context a couple of years ago, ‘Without your health, you have nothing. Nothing!’ We were talking about someone who was wealthy but got sick and died. Now there is a politician in Texas suggesting that old people should allow themselves to die so the economy can do better. As someone commented on FB, how is it that so many psychopaths have gotten themselves in positions of power?

When I put in the tag for community, I thought surely I had used it before. It’s a word that Dad used a lot and I thought I had written about it. He consistently referred to the Sunday Church service that he and Mom went to as the ’10 am community’.

I remember years ago when we used to have Mass in odd places like the lawn at Maryknoll, Dad would bring up Jesus’ comment that ‘whenever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.’ His point was that it didn’t have to be a dedicated structure to find the presence of God.

But it does have to be a human gathering, and that is in short supply right now.

In the US Congress, there are rules in place requiring physical presence in the chamber for voting. There is talk now about relaxing those rules. However that plays out, despite Zoom and Skype and Teams whatever other software is out there for getting people together, humans will always need to gather. Community is too important to leave to the machines.

day 7

It’s getting more and more surreal. Today is day 7 for Sepi’s and my self isolation. The order to shelter in place was effective Tuesday, three days ago. Nevertheless, the water main replacement work continues. Thankfully they are not in front of our house now, although it wouldn’t really matter since we aren’t going anywhere. People go by the house occasionally walking kids or dogs.

Or in groups . . . are you kidding me? Social distancing, people! If not your lives, then the lives of your loved ones or your neighbors depend on it.

When Sepi commented on a group she saw yesterday, I suggested that perhaps they were a family unit. She said, no, she knew them. They were just friends out for a walk, talking together, just like it’s a normal day.

Sepi read me part of a news story from yesterday, commenting on how San Franciscans don’t seem to be taking the orders seriously. People were shown on the Embarcadero walking and skating in groups. Grocery stores with crowds of people, if not stock. Are we blasé, resigned to our fates? Do we believe it’s all fake news?

OTOH, the news media loves to paint SF as a city full of lunatics. What’s LA like? Chicago? New York, where T was supposedly sending the Navy hospital ship. (Except the Navy said it was still undergoing maintenance and wasn’t ready.)

The thermostat and camera is supposed to get here today. We’ll see. That’s a little job I can do. I tried yesterday to get Sepi to go out just for a few minutes’ walk without success. She said she would go with me today. I know she’s terrified. I am too, but I can’t stay in the house for days on end. I’ve gone out for a couple of walks but stay far away from anyone else I see out there.