Things I Learned in 2017

Hello readers,

Despite the last two years of my life feeling a bit like a one-way ticket on the Hot Mess Express, I very much try to look on the positive side of things. Every year around my birthday my good friend Rachel asks me what she calls the “Birthday Question.” The question is simply: “What did it take you (insert your new age here) amount of years to learn?” Now, granted this time of year isn’t anywhere near my birthday, but I thought I would apply the same kind of thinking when looking back at this last year. This year was one full of milestones for me, and it took a little bit of reflection to realize that, though less than stellar things might happen in the course of your life, it is still a good life. If you need a sign from the universe that this is true, there is one in the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. I conveniently found it on my 30th birthday. And on, that note, I’m going to tell some of the things I learned in 2017:

I’ve learned how to do Las Vegas. Now, I know you’re probably thinking: “Eva, what’s there to ‘do’? You’re there at least once a year already.” Nay nay, there are certain tricks you can employ to seriously maximize your Vegas experience. Ladies, use that social media! Put as many ridiculous Vegas-related hashtags in your comments as you can think of. Save promoters phone numbers and build a rapport. Get a group of your best girlfriends and get yourself out there! Adventures await. Just make sure you take a few naps, stock up on the Red Bull, and wear your most comfortable heels. You too can “hack” Vegas if you’re determined enough.

You want the thing? Do the thing. Yes, this is a primitive way of putting it. Only you have the power to change things and do things for yourself. You want to be the go-getter? Go get things, just by taking those first steps. Sure, you might think “Dear God, what am I doing?” half the time, but you’re really creating the life that you want and deserve for yourself.

On a lighter note: I now know that I have the uncanny ability to hold two drinks in the same hand. This is especially convenient when trying to take selfies or photos of whatever event you’re at.

 

Order the thing you want. Order what you really want, and don’t regret it. Screw it. Get the lobster topped with lobster and a cocktail and dessert. This is a case in which the term “Yolo” might actually be appropriate. 

Not everyone deserves an explanation or a reaction. Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all.  As someone who frequently posts her innermost thoughts on the internet, this has been a hard one for me. Sometimes people who disturb your peace just aren’t worth it. You can’t demand peace of mind from other people; you might not ever understand why they do what they do. You just have to figure it out for yourself and move forward.

Tell the people you love that you love them. Yes, it can be scary. Sometimes it doesn’t feel very good, even though it should. Do it anyway. Everyone is worthy of loving and being loved. It doesn’t have to be a quid pro quo thing. Sometimes loving someone doesn’t work out the way you want it to, sometimes it’s not enough. Tell them anyway. Don’t beat yourself up for being vulnerable. You’re a better person for it. Because, as Vladimir Nabokov so elegantly put it, we’re all just “rust and stardust” in the end. Nothing is ever guaranteed.

And lastly….

It’s not always you. 

And it’s a good life, indeed.

EVA ♥

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I Ain’t Sorry.

Hello all, 
 
First of all, I want to thank everyone who took the time out from their days to read my previous posts. I’m still seriously touched that so many people read the general nonsense that comes out of my brain. All 360+ posts of general nonsense…you are my people, and I love you. 
 
As I’ve said before here on Watch Me Juggle, things don’t always go the way you planned. 

{Beyoncé’s “Sorry” has become a bit of an anthem of mine.}

 

When you’re little, saying your sorry tends to be one of life’s hard-learned lessons. If you wrong someone, bump into them, do anything even remotely impolite, you say “sorry,” and move on. You took her cookie? Say you’re sorry. You accidentally tripped her during jump rope? Say you’re sorry. But what happens when “sorry” become the default? When it feels more like a reflexive obligation, than any kind of genuine recognition of wrongdoing? 

I’ll admit that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fighting the impulse to apologize for my behavior or things that have happened to me in life. ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ have somehow become mushed together into the same sentiment. A grown man shoulder-checked me on my commute the other day and I found myself apologizing…for him? Excusing myself for being so large and so much in his way? He was conveniently mute the whole time. It was all very odd. And it’s in moments like this that I think— why do we continuously apologize for other people, or for simply just being ourselves? 
 
I’ve written a blog about being unabashedly myself before, “Sorry Not Sorry.” I’ll be the first one to tell you that I am by no means perfect, heck, (I’ve documented enough embarrassing and strange moments in my life on here for anyone to figure that out) but I feel like I also have the tendency to routinely apologize for myself more than is necessary. 
 
While I’m more spiritual than religious, I’m a huge believer in karma, that what you put out in the universe always comes around to you in another form. Regardless of how others treat you, it’s your job to be kind and graceful— to keep your chin up no matter how badly some things have gone. Some people might think that that means being a pushover, but I think that there’s an incredible amount of power in being able to fully own your behavior. And to me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like “Oh, I shouldn’t have said/done that,” because, while you can’t control the other people in your life, you can control yourself. Hold yourself to your own high standards. There are always going to be unfortunate people out there, and how they treat you should never be taken as a reflection on you. Of course, this is easier said than done. And I am as far away as anyone from having the answers. But I’m starting here…
Until next time,
EVA ♥

Almost 30.

Hello everyone!

Yesterday, I turned 28.

Yep, no denial here. 28. As many times as I joke that I’m 21 or 22 (people believe me, which is slightly awkward…), I’m really almost 30. I had a full day of completely indulgent things that made me happy- I got my hair blown out, went to tea at Neiman Marcus, had a glass of champagne with my mother, and a big family dinner. I’ve been told before that no “adult” takes their birthday off, so I ran the risk of feeling like a kid, and took the day off anyway. No adult thinks that their birthday is something to celebrate, apparently.

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You see, I’m almost 30. I have friends who are married, friends who have children, friends who want to buy houses. Every year, my friend Rachel asks me what she calls the “‘Birthday Question:’ What has it taken you __ years to learn?” This year, I shared something that I know to be true, yet I still think I’m learning it, if that makes sense. It’s a bit like that saying “comparison is the thief of joy.”

Many of us start our adult lives the same way- high school then college, graduation then a job. What people don’t tell you is that everyone’s lives tend to go on their own course from there. Some of your friends will leave the country, some of your friends will have babies, some might join the army. There’s no right or wrong way to go about things. Comparing your lives at this point, is pretty much an exercise in futility.  Other people might try, even if you don’t. They’ll compare your life to how their’s was or is. So, that’s what I learned this year. Or what I’m trying to learn.

Sometimes I think about what my life would look like if it had gone differently, or gone the way I thought it might when I was a teenager. And it makes me sad to think about- I certainly wouldn’t be the same person I am today. It still seems funny to say that I’m proud of the things that I’ve done- I work in a field I love, I have a place I can call my own, I own some beautiful shoes, and, as of yesterday, a brand-new Nespresso machine (Yay! Fancy!). This month, I have plans to go to Vegas and Washington D.C. Just for fun, and to see new things. I’m like a real adult. Who knew?

I’m almost 30, and I think it’s hard to be grateful sometimes, but I try everyday. I think it’s human nature to fixate on the one thing that we don’t yet have, or the things we think we’re missing. I’m almost 30, and I’m trying to make myself into the person that I really want to be. No one’ going to do it for me. At my birthday dinner yesterday, I had ten people there to celebrate, many of whom have known me since before I can remember. We had some really good food, told stories, and I laughed so hard, I thought I might wet my pants. People from all over wished me a happy birthday. It made me feel special, but not in that little-kid way. I have a fridge full of mini cupcakes, but also a really nice bottle of brut rose.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

EVA♥

Taking Stock 3.0

Hello all!

It’s been quite a while since my last “Taking Stock” post. It’s been an eventful week in the Bay Area, which means many exciting posts to come. In a nutshell, I spent this last weekend at numerous parties, a concert, and even found myself at a comedy club at one point. Don’t worry, I was not the one onstage. (Insert rimshot here.) So I decided to bring it back-to-basics this Monday with a little list.

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San Francisco: a city that’s beautiful at all angles. If I didn’t like her so much, I would probably hate her. So darn photogenic. This was taken at the top of Lafayette Park.

Making : weird faces. At myself. For absolutely no reason. You can tell exactly what I’m thinking based on my facial expressions. I am not a natural at poker, that’s for sure.
Cooking : bread pudding. I always seem to have leftover/stale bread lying around, and it seems like such a waste to throw it out. Bring on the kitchen experiments!
Drinking : La Croix. Sure, it’s just water in a can. But it’s also fancy, apricot-flavored, sparkling water! I can get behind that.
Reading The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan and Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories.
Wanting : a pair of overalls. I’m basically an adult woman that likes to pretend she’s still a kid.
Wishing : I could shake my sometimes constant nostalgia. As they say, “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”
Enjoying : leftover tres leches cake from my friend Jessie’s bridal shower. De-licious!
Listening : The Pandora Jim Gaffigan station. It helps get me through my workday, especially when I need a little chuckle.
Waiting : for the Fourth of July weekend to come!
Liking : making small talk with strangers. It’s always nice to get to know the people around you a little better. Need some inspiration? Check out this guide to starting a conversation in 60 seconds.
Loving : Louboutin shopping. I’ve vowed to buy myself a pair before 28. Happy birthday to me!
Bookmarking: place’s to visit in Napa on an upcoming weekend getaway.
Watching : This amazing music video featuring dancers. I must say, I’m loving this trend.
Needing : an organizational system for my clothes that does not involve piling things on a chair.
Smelling : my Capri Blue Volcano candle. I burn it constantly when I’m at home.
Wearing : my DV by Dolce Vita blue suede sandals. They were a steal at $5.
Thinking : about my latest to-do list.
Marveling : at all the exciting goings-on over the weekend. #LoveWins
Feeling : the anticipation. I somehow have plans for every weekend until August. Road trips and vacation, here I come!

Today’s blog was inspired by Pip whose blog, Meet Me at Mike’s,  I stumbled upon while browsing around A Pretty Penny. Go check them out! Great little corners of the internet. 

EVA♥

I’m The Kind of Girl Who…

Hello everyone!

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This is me. So obnoxiously excited to be at work that I document it in a selfie when no one is in the office.

I’m really late on the “I’m the kind of girl” post bandwagon, I must say. Here I was, thinking I was being all original, when I stumbled across this post from one of my favorite blogs: I Wore Yoga Pants To Work. As many would say, no art is truly original. I started writing this post in the little pink notebook I carry around with me, and it was further inspired by those gals out there who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

I was always kind of a quirky person. It’s only over the last few years that I’ve had the confidence to really embrace it. When I was younger, I found out that it’s a lot of wasted effort trying to be something other people want you to be. Being as true to yourself, as authentic as possible, is pretty much the best way to earn points with anyone. I’m aware that I’m very much a paradox: the clumsy ballerina, the girl who can get all dressed up and still act like to total goofball. I’m a bit of a weirdo, I’ll admit it. But, it does my heart good when people can laugh with me, and find a place in their hearts for someone who’s openly imperfect.

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I’m the kind of girl who…

eats cake for dinner on occasion. Or a pint of ice cream. When I was 18 and living in Santa Barbara I realized that no one could stop me from doing this if I just felt like it. So I did.

talks to other cars on the road while driving. Yes, you Mr. Prius. Make up your mind. Are you turning or going straight? This is San Francisco, and I don’t have all damn day.

will work ten times harder at something if you say I can’t do it. Just watch me. Watch me juggle all the things. I’ll put all my heart and soul into it, too. Whoever first told me I couldn’t dance had another thing coming.

isn’t afraid of being alone. This wasn’t always the case. When I first moved into my apartment I had a hard time sleeping at night, but now I relish the time I have to myself. I can listen to horrible music as much as I want, and walk around my house in heels and no one is there to judge me.

wears vintage/thrifted clothes with my most expensive accessories. I love looking like a million bucks without spending nearly that much. Am so fancy, you guys.

bakes when sad. Totally serious. Whether in the midst of a personal crisis or just having a depressing lazy day for no reason. Want a cake? Done. Maybe I’ll throw a dozen cookies in there too. And some scones. It’s a productive thing to put your energy into; at the end you’re left with a bunch of treats and a house that smells delicious. It’s an instant mood booster.

will read books and watch movies over and over again. You can always tell my favorites by how beat up they are. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Sabrina” are constants in my life.

likes to dance like an idiot out at clubs sometimes. I do the running man, and the sprinkler with inappropriate levels of enthusiasm. If only partially to see peoples’ reactions, seeing as most know I dance for a living. People just need to stop taking themselves so seriously.

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sings words during conversation. It was during a recent car ride that I noticed this about myself. A friend of mine started laughing hysterically and I couldn’t figure out why. I guess singing the phrase “heli-copter par-ents” while doing awkward robot arm movements isn’t something that people do on a regular basis.

You can’t make this stuff up. It’ s honestly just how I am.

EVA♥

Taking Stock: Christmas Edition

Hello all!

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It’s been one whirlwind of a week, and, considering it’s only Wednesday, the holiday craziness continues!

I apparently didn’t have enough foresight to know that going to Trader Joe’s on Christmas Eve would be complete and utter chaos. (Insert horrified emoji here) I pointedly said “Wow! It’s crazy in here” to the woman at the checkout, who looked at me like I had lost my mind. Touché.

Either way, I realized while getting ready for work at the ballet this morning that it’s been an awful long while since my first Taking Stock post, and thought an updated was long overdue!

Here goes nothing…

Making : a last minute gift bag for my neighbor. I found a little Christmas cheer from him waiting at my door today in the form of a gift card. So thoughtful!
Cooking : Parmesan pups from TJ’s to snack on. A high brow pigs-in-a-blanket, really.
Drinking : Found Elderflower soda. A recent delicious discovery at the local Target.
Reading: Survivorby Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve been craving dark novels as of late.
Wanting: Christmas Eve dinner!
Playing: The wait-until-the-last-minute-to-get-ready-for-a-party game.
Wishing: that everyone gets all that they wanted this Christmas.
Enjoying: reruns of Sex & the City on my tiny television.
Waiting: for Christmas morning to enjoy mimosas with the boss lady.
Liking: Nicki Minaj’s new album. I know, it’s rather out of character for me…
Wondering: what to wear! Is an all-black Christmas ensemble appropriate? With a red lip,too.
Loving: the amount of love my students, friends, and family have shown me this Christmas.
Marveling: at the amount of time I’ve spent away from home over the last few weeks.
Needing: an extra cookie sheet to accommodate all the cookie baking I’ve been doing.
Smelling:  Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb. It’s my new fragrance!
Wearing: a big, slouchy teal cashmere sweater to keep me warm.
Thinking: about going to see Into the Woods in theaters soon.
Knowing: that I’ll do some serious damage at all the after Christmas sales.
Opening: presents soon, of course.
Giggling: over Jenna Marbles latest video. Typical Eva.
Feeling: tired. restless. excited. All the things.

….

Wishing you a happy, merry magical Christmas season, dear readers!

EVA♥

30 Facts About Me

Hello all!

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Here’s an old-school head shot for you photographed by the studio’s lovely resident tech guru/photographer Miss Mary Lee Shalvoy. You might have also seen this elsewhere on my page, under the “About Me” tab.

If you’re reading this, it’s most likely that I somehow got myself together enough to finish a blog post and schedule it’s publication in advance. Go me! Why all the hooplah, you ask? Well, while you’re reading this, I’m most likely trapped in a classroom of ten year-olds, trying to keep them occupied while simultaneously winning them over with my goofiness. And yoga skills…

Anyway, it’s Blogtober day 30, and I thought I would play a game of get to know you by giving you 30 random facts about me! I love reading and creating lists like these- they appeal to my desire for randomness,while simultaneously making you feel like you’re getting to know someone in all their little details.

Here we go!

1…I was born with black hair and blue eyes. Where they went, I have no clue…

2…I can count to 10 in six languages…

3…It used to be seven, but I’ve completely forgotten my college Arabic…

4…I have a few double jointed fingers…

5…I have an affinity for remembering the lines from my favorite movies…

6…In 5th grade, I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist…

7…I had hair down to my knees for the majority of my childhood..

8…I have chronic foot/ankle pain from years spent dancing on pointe…

9…I’m allergic to cashews…

10…I’ve never had the chickenpox…

11…English is my third language…

12…My work commute is exactly two minutes…

13…I love the smell of freshly ground coffee…

14…I’m first generation American…

15…I own over 30 pairs of shoes…

16…I live in an apartment with an entirely lavender bathroom…

17…I wear the diamond ring my parents bought me for high school graduation everyday…

18…I’m 27 and I own several stuffed animals…

19…There’s a special place in my heart for overweight cats…

20…There’s a plaque in my elementary school with my name on it, somewhere…

21…There’s a section of my closet devoted to evening gowns…

22…I learned to walk in my grandmother’s kitchen in Austria…

23…I have a beauty mark in my left armpit…

24…I genuinely enjoy bourbon…

 25…I’ve dreamed of living in SF since I was a kid…

26…I’m just crazy about Audrey Hepburn…

27…Purple is my favorite color…

28…I love flower-flavored desserts…

29…It’s a goal of mine to own a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes…

30…I used to be terrified of dogs, but now can’t wait to own one…

EVA♥

“Taking Stock”

Hello all!

Today, I was inspired by the lovely Pip, whose blog, Meet Me at Mike’s, I stumbled upon while browsing around A Pretty Penny. Yes,  much of my downtime is spent perusing other people’s blogs. It’s a relaxing little activity that helps me decompress. I loved this little checklist that I stumbled upon, and decided to recreate my own in the spirit of Blogtober.

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Belated…or early…TBT to a local farmers’ market with some of my favorite people. This picture makes me happy.

My very first “Taking Stock” post! Let’s get to it:

Making : mental plans for my mid-week day off tomorrow.
Cooking : whatever I can find in my freezer. I’ve been getting really creative using up the contents of my pantry, too. I’ve turned out some delicious surprises.
Drinking : San Pellegrino Sparkling Pomegranate & Orange. A new flavor for me! Slightly interesting…
Reading: The contents of my Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I desperately need a new autumn dish to bake.
Wanting: Friday. Is it Halloween yet?!
Playing: new music on Spotify, courtesy of P.
Wishing: that I had enough energy to stay up an extra hour. There are always things that need doing!
Enjoying: reruns of Modern Family on my tiny television.
Waiting: for “Congratulations on your new job” earrings from Baublebar to arrive in the mail! Love their stuff!
Liking: the fact that I have two whole weekdays off this week! I’m spoiled.
Wondering: whether or not to go to ballet class tomorrow morning….
Loving: Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice latte season. Yes, I’m one of those girls.
Marveling: at how many things I’ve done today.
Needing: a stylish new duvet cover to perk things up.
Smelling: the lingering scent of my Twilight shower gel from Lush.
Wearing: my soft new pajama set. I first saw them on Vanilla Extract and had to have them!
Thinking: about the missing pieces of my Halloween costume I have yet to purchase.
Knowing: that today was a good day.
Opening: 800 tabs at a time in my browser. It’s my new bad habit.
Giggling: at Jimmy Kimmel’s “Elsaween” video- watch it here. So true!
Feeling: accomplished.

EVA♥

Letters to Everything…#2

Dear Upstairs Neighbor,

What in God’s name possesses you to walk around in your heels at 2am on a Wednesday night? The only logical explanation for this behavior is that you are shooting an adult film. In which case, this is still socially unacceptable behavior.

Dear People leaving the theater during the applause,

There is nothing we can do to physically stop you from being so rude. Just remember, there will be hundreds of vengeful dancers that you offended waiting for you in the afterlife. They stand on their toes for a living and are not afraid of pain. Think about that for a while.

Dear sir,

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Were you in a real hurry when you got dressed this morning? Or is this a cool new trend that I don’t know about?

Dear Smelly Person at Yoga,

I’m not entirely sure why you smell so distinctly of a used cat-box, but it’s disconcerting. What’s even more bothersome is the fact that you put your mat next to mine. Unfortunately for me, there is no yoga pose that involves holding your nose.

Dear overalls,

I’m so so glad you’re back. I lived in you from grades four to five, and I have been waiting to wear you again for all this time. I don’t care that I am a grown woman. I will wear you with stylish abandon, and everyone will be jealous of my youthful appearance. I may look like I belong in middle school again, but, frankly my dears…I don’t give a damn.

Dear Fork in my Champagne bottle,

I know you’re supposed to have a purpose, but I’m not sure what that is. I think you’re supposed to keep the bubbles in?  How do you do that? Is it magic? Am I even doing this right?

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Dear person with 10 packets of Splenda in their latte,

The barista at Starbucks repeated your order back to you so many times because he was in a state of shock. How do you still have all your teeth? And all that can’t be good for your intestinal tract.  Have you ever considered the fact that maybe you just don’t like the taste of coffee…? Ever consider drinking tea?

Dear Comcast,

I’m going to go on record and say that your TV service is awful, at least from my experience. The last thing I need is a combination of your dreadful TV service, a $40 increase in my bill, and a snarky customer service agent. I also enjoy how you like to charge me extra when I try to pay my bill. Very classy move.  By the way, have you heard of Chromecast? It’s $35, doesn’t come with an obnoxious modem, and will be my new best friend. So there.

Sincerely,

EVA♥

Speaking in Tongues

Hello all!

I couldn’t sleep one night, and decided to write the below little blurb of my life. I hope it provides you with a little insight. I guess you could say this is another “coming-out” piece.  I never really intended my blog to be a sounding board for my personal life, but I think it’s peculiar enough that it makes for a good story. I leave you with a little point-of-reference photo of my multicultural immediate family (not shown is the cat, who I’m sure is very upset that she’s not included).

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……

The first word I ever spoke was Farsi: Baba, which means father. It makes for an interesting conversation starter; I grew up speaking three languages simultaneously, but I am the definition of American. Most of my father’s family, while having immigrated  to the United States to escape their war-torn homeland almost 40 years ago, do not speak more than a sentence of English. Growing up with a grandmother who also struggled in her new surroundings forced me to maintain my Farsi until I was a teenager. I have a tumultuous relationship with this language, to say the least.  My mother tells me that, as a child, I would mix German, English, and Farsi words together in one sentence of gibbberish that only she could understand. I joke with her now, saying that it’s no wonder that I’m a linguistically confused adult. That I had moments of embarrassment speaking to my French teacher in Farsi when I was over-tired. That there is no greater frustration in the world than when someone asks me: “Quick! How do you say onion in Farsi?!” Knowing that I can remember how to say it in French, German, English, Arabic, but not Farsi. Not at the moment. If that individual returned fifteen minutes later, I would have it, but there is no consolation prize, no show of admiration for my lack of quick wit. When I was about eleven, my older cousins took me along to my grandmother’s dentist appointment. I acted as the lone interpreter for her denture fitting while they parked the car. I struggled, translating the same questions over and over again, the dentist unsatisfied with her answers. “Does it hurt? Does it pinch anywhere? Does it hurt?” Sweat beading on my forehead, there was no explaining to the dentist that I didn’t know how the hell to say ‘dentures’ in Farsi, or if there even was an equivalent word. I don’t think dentures are an oft seen commodity in countries where women aren’t even allowed to read. Once, upon knowing that I grew up speaking the language, a co-worker of mine asked me: “How do you say, ‘My name is Eva’ in Farsi?” I was stumped, and ultimately mortified that I didn’t have the answer. Looking back, I realize it’s because no one asks you to introduce yourself, no one really needs to know your name in the Afghan culture. You’re solely identified by your most notable relatives, in my case, I am my father’s daughter. “Hello, my name is…” doesn’t really exist. I’ve never had to use those words in a sentence.

I say that I’m the black sheep of the family, maybe the only American-born member of my generation. It’s perhaps this and not the language barrier that is so divisive. The fact that I’m also mixed race makes me an oddity. Even as a successful and educated 26 year-old woman, I constantly relive my desperate childhood need to fit in to a society where I will always be an anomaly. I am the only daughter of a well-respected and well-known member of the community. When I make my way through the crowd at family gatherings, saying hello, kissing cheeks, there is often a discussion that trails behind me. Most of the words are sweet, acknowledging me. It’s only when I sit down, that I feel the sick feeling of a creature on display. They don’t know that when they discuss me openly, across a room, that I can understand them. When they ask “Can she speak Farsi? Does she know the language?” I know their disappointment. I am like a broken toy. I’m fully aware that my speech is now limited to niceties, complimenting the food, inquiring as to one’s health, tea preferences, etc. But, my comprehension of the language has not faded. I can only think that this is what a locked-in person must feel, my eyes darting around the room, following the conversation. Aside from the deeply stifling need to defend myself, I could never imagine shouting over the crowd of people that I understand them. I understand every word they say about me as I sit next to them. The sad looks they give me, like I am an ugly velvet painting among a wall of Picassos, are not lost on me. They don’t know or care that I have two degrees, that I graduated from college with honors, or that I could once write beautiful, complete papers in Arabic. They don’t know that I’m an artist, that I have students who tell me I am the best teacher, students who hug me everyday when they leave.

I tell myself that it’s inherent, that I could walk in the room tomorrow, with the most exquisite of homemade Afghan dishes in my hand, singing in Farsi, reading from the Qu’ran; I still wouldn’t be good enough. I will always be a fabulous imitation of them. So I sit there, clutching my tepid tea, feeling as if my insides are piled beneath the chair I’m sitting in. I endure the looks with a placid expression on my face, like an animal in the zoo. Telling myself over and over,

I love my family…I love my family…I love my family…

EVA♥