Tag Archives: Sepi

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 blas√©, 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.

changes

It feels like months since I’ve posted here. It turns out it’s only – only! – about 5 weeks. But it was 5 or 6 weeks since the one before that so in nearly three months only one post. Lame.

Yes, there has been a lot going on in my life. It’s mostly work related. My new job has been rather all consuming.

For reasons too complicated to go into today, I think I turned a corner this week. Running shows the last couple of days, I finally am feeling confident that I am not forgetting things. There are so many details and so many distractions.

The big push at the start of the season with MTT is now almost a month in the past. I had a week long vacation in which Sepi and I and Mom! drove up to Washington to visit Jeremy’s family. We also swung through Spokane for a quick visit with Dan and Nettie and Peter and Nanci. All went well. The shows after we got back were generally easy to stage. Last week the production team had a long meeting looking at the December shows and came up with some plans.

So, I’m breathing easier.

Meanwhile, the 4th anniversary of Zach’s death has been looming. For a long time, that number was more significant because it was the end of the statute of limitations for criminal charges. I held out hope for a long time, despite clear statements from the Baton Rouge DA’s office, that I could marshal enough evidence to revisit the actions of the drivers who killed Zach.

I say drivers because I believe that both drivers were negligent in that they were racing to be first out of the merge and did not watch the road as they should have. Zach was in the road and was hit by one of them.

The world moves on. Those of us who loved Zach have mostly come to terms with life without him. I haven’t had a big crying jag in a while but I think I may let go sometime this week. Especially in the last three months I’ve often wished I could consult with Zach over my work difficulties. He had the ability to step back emotionally that I envied.

Now I just muddle through.

anniversary

I’ll bet if you looked up ‘anniversary’ in the tag cloud, all you’d find would be rather gloomy posts. Finally there was a happy anniversary for me. Sepi and I achieved one year of marriage 2 weeks ago. Yay!

Amazingly, I had the night off so we went out to dinner. We had drinks and a glass of wine with our food. Perhaps not the best of ideas when you’re really tired, but we got through it.

It’s been hard for Sepi to hear all my stories of my work difficulties. It’s all she can do to not go down to Davies and knock heads. She’s gone through may similar situations so she’s given me much practical advice. Most importantly, she’s kept me grounded with the long view.

Sepi is also my most consistent reader and commenter on this blog. Hi Sepi! I love you!

Zach’s spot

I visited Zach’s spot Wednesday. It doesn’t sound right to say it but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s where his earthly remains are. It’s not his gravesite but it’s something like that.

Three years ago, a group of us gathered there early on a July morning and distributed his ashes in and around Eagle Creek Falls above Emerald Bay. This year, Sepi and I had driven up to Grass Valley to catch Jeremy and his family at Tom’s house. That was a wonderful visit but I had to get back to work by Thursday. Jeremy was going on to Yosemite and we were going back to the Bay Area.

I decided I wanted to go back through Lake Tahoe, though, to stop at this place and remember Zach. Sarah is gathering people at a campsite up there again as I write this so others will do as I did soon.

It was early afternoon and the area was packed with people. We found a parking place quickly, though, and I decided that I would not go to the falls, where I had left my portion, but up the hill, where others had. Fewer folks up there.

I took a few moments to think of that day and Zach, then took a quick panorama, then headed back down the hill. the less said about the drive home the better.

It sure is a beautiful spot, Zach! I love you, son.

. . . and another thing . . .

Ralph is here today working on the stairs again. He took last week off to do another job, then came back Monday with an assistant to sand the finish down and start over. He’s been here every day this week. Sepi has been extremely patient, IMO. ‘He’s such a nice guy!,’ she says.

I said sure he’s a nice guy but he’s been trying for six weeks to finish the job correctly. It was originally supposed to be 4 or 5 days. Maybe he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. I was in favor of calling it good enough a couple of weeks ago and being resigned to hiring someone else to finish it properly but Sepi held firm.

He’s doing it for a fixed fee so I shouldn’t complain. I just want to be able to go up and down my front stairs again!

Yesterday, he said that he would finish that day and then come back today for the final inspection. Then an hour or so later he said it was going to need another coat of varnish. OK, dude, whatever.

fecund

Fecund.

That’s the word that kept coming into my mind earlier this week. Up the hill behind our house is an area that Sepi had planted with fruit trees and some smaller stuff. There was an irrigation system but it hadn’t been turned on for at least a couple of years. There were broken plastic pipes all over the place. We had done some pruning last fall but, in general nature had had its way for quite a while.

Last month we got the notice from the local fire agency that we had to clear flammables from our property. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I got it together to go out and rent a weed whacker and have at it. That’s when the word started lodging in my mind.

We had an unusually wet winter this year and the grasses were 4′ high. I had to sweep the trimmer through the tops of a section first before going after the base. Otherwise, the long grasses would clog the device. And, because I left the job so late, the tops of the grasses were bulging with seed pods.

Naturally, they scattered all over when I cut them. They’ll be back!

Our friend Chris, who is a real biologist, told me that she recommended pulling the weeds by hand. I couldn’t face it. Maybe next year when I start earlier. We’ll see . . .

In any case, after three hours of weed whacking, I had 50 feet of hillside cleared. I really should have gone up another 30 but the machine was out of gas and my hands and shoulders were aching.

Wednesday I went through the lower area with the shovel, digging out the fennel that had run wild. They were in clumps with some of the stalks an inch in diameter and very tough to dig out. Then, Sepi wanted to trim the apple and fig trees. Some viny ground cover had moved up into the branches so I spent a couple of hours cutting those out and pruning dead limbs and carrying the leftovers down to the green waste can by the street.

Satisfying, but boy was I spent after that. And all I could think of was the fecundity of nature.

Oh, and today (Friday) I am just beginning to be able to grip with my right hand. I had to use my left hand to drink a glass of water yesterday.

Edit to add photos:

The fruit trees.

The tenacious fennel stalks. Note bits of irrigation tubing and landscape lighting.