Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chang & Tradition (Written July 2011)

     If I've learned one thing in my life is that change happens whether we like it or not. People change, seasons change, places change, laws change, every thing changes. Even mountains and oceans change, everything that exits changes. Another thing I've learned is that most people don't like change and the older they get they dislike change even more. I don't know why this is but the simple explanation would be that people are creatures of habit. Consistency is easy, comfortable and un-complicated. That's the reason we don't change our car insurance even if we know it's expensive, that's why people don't refinance their high interest rate mortgage loans, it's the reason people use the same incompetent accountant, lawyer or mechanic year after year. 

     In my place of work I hear this question almost every day. Customers ask "why do people change here so much?" I have worked in the same place for more than a year and so have a lot of other co-workers. But as soon as we get one new person we are asked that question. I don't know why it's so hard to understand that people change jobs. Some get fired, some get promoted, some quit and others retire. What is so complicated or unusual about this that perplexes people? It's because they don't like change. They want to see the same people every time they come in, doing the same job, standing in the same spot. 

     Who would still want cars with maximum speed of 45 miles per hour? Who doesn't like the convenience of cell phones, or the miracle of the Internet? Who hasn't benefited from all the great changes in the medical field and the amazing verity of life saving procedures? Just imagine if we didn't have all the modern technological discoveries that happened in the last 50 years that have greatly improved our quality of life. My mom used to comment all the time that our life was so much easier compared to hers in respect to the conveniences of domestic life, from shopping to cooking and cleaning to child rearing.  

     With all this said there is still a place for traditions and why we cherish them. In my opinion family traditions are created when we do something together as a family that is fun and enjoyable and it creates found memories. There is this family tradition that every summer when some of us go, or have gone to Armenian, we go to my sister's "dacha", Russian word for villa or summer house in English, and when it's time to go back to the city, we take a group picture sitting on the same sofa. Every year some of the people in the picture change depending on whoever happens to be visiting Armenia that year. There is always the home owners and maybe an odd person, a guest or a friend but the picture is always taken from the same angle on the same sofa. One year the sofa broke, I guess because we all had gained a few pounds from eating too much kabob. We laughed so much that some of us peed in our pants and that made us laugh even more.                        Those are precious memories and they are unforgettable and priceless.

     I like the tradition of having Thanksgiving dinner in my house every year. I think I will continue this tradition for as long as I can cook, maybe until I'm eighty. 
    We have Armenian Christmas at another one of my sisters house and we haven't missed it for 34 years. Her youngest son was born that night 34 years ago and that makes this tradition doubly fun. No matter where we are we always end up in her house on that night. 
     Another of my my sisters (I have seven of them lucky me) lives by a high school and every 4th of July they have fire works at nine o'clock. She cooks hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue chicken and we always have plenty of beer. Each year the family grows bigger thanks to my nieces and nephews and now my son who has a little girl. The kids run around in the backyard, climb trees and walls, and eat lots of food. The grownups talk about life, work, blood pressure and our weight problems and everything else in between. We all have a wonderful time and go home tired and happy.  
I juts want our kids to continue our family traditions because that is the one thing that will bind us to each other. In this cold and ever changing world all we have that is genuine is family love. You can't buy it, rent it or borrow it. Let's leave something behind for our kids besides our national debt. Let's leave them our legacy of good old fashioned family traditions. After all blood is thicker than water.   


Wednesday, July 3, 2013


     I was not born in America but I came here as a young woman. My intention was to get an education and go back to where I had come from. But things changed in my birth country and I decided to stay.
I went to school here, got married, had children, worked and paid taxes. I became a citizen and I have been voting in every presidential election since. I love to celebrate the 4th of july, the American Independence Day from British rule. I would hate to live in a country that had a king or queen in the 21st  century.
     When I was a newcomer and didn't know much about world history or politics I would wonder why people who had free countries would choose to live in America. In college I had classmates from Vietnam, China, Philippines, and Mexico. I was thinking if Armenia was a free country I would never want to live anywhere else but there.

     At the time Armenia was a Communist Soviet Republic. In 1991 Armenia became an independent country free from Soviet rule. I visited in 2006 and 2007.  My first visit was a dream come true. All my life I had wanted Armenia to be free of the Russians and it finally was. I felt very fortunate to finally see a free and  democratic Armenia. The country is beautiful, full of history and culture, people are nice and hospitable. But even after 22 years of freedom and democracy Armenia still has profound problems. There is high unemployment, poverty, rampant corruption, crime, stollen elections, social problems such as domestic violence  and child abuse. I know that some people will say that America has the same problems even much worse. They would be partially correct. Yes no country on Earth is problem free, but here there are more laws to protect people. There are organizations, and institutions to deal with these problems. In Armenia some of the problems are not even acknowledged as problems. Anyone reading any Armenian news publication or any media knows what I am talking about.  I could not live in Armenia the way it is today.  Even in daily life I would probably have arguments with people in stores, banks and government offices. Because I know that as a human being and a woman I have rights and I could not let any one trample on my rights Armenian or not.

     Now I fully understand why people from all over the world or where ever there is no freedom chose to live in America.

     I have lived in America most of my adult life. I have come to take for granted most of the rights and freedoms that a great number of people on Earth still don't have. Living in America I have no fear of persecution because I am a woman, or a minority or a Christian, or a Democrat, or whatever I chose to be. There are countries that would put me in prison if I got raped, I would be stoned  to death If I had a lover. I would be mutilated if I was a girl in some countries. I would be killed and my church would be torched for being a Christian in some other country. There are countries that woman can't vote, or drive, or have property or travel without  permission from a male person. I don't want to live in a country that won't let girls to go to school or will marry them when they are a mere child.

     I am an Armenian, I speak, read and write my language fluently, I have kept our traditions and I am proud of my heritage. But I am also an Armenian who has chosen to live in America because America is still the greatest country on Earth.  Tomorrow my large family will barbecue, have lots of beer and watch fireworks.

Have a great and safe 4th of July my fellow Americans.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I don't sleep well at night. Basically I'm a night owl. So after I wake up around 6:30 a.m. I have a cup of coffee and a cigarette I go back to bed and sleep a couple of hours. 

This morning I had a dream. In my dream people had gathered in my childhood home for a memorial.  The deceased  had died in a plane crash and his death was shocking and tragic. He was a charismatic and inspiring youth group leader. People who had gathered were all his disciples and I knew all of them. We used to be in the same organization, in the same groups. We had meetings together, went to camp together, and some of us had attended the same high school. 

Throughout the memorial I had a feeling that I was invisible. People past me by without a glance, no one said hello. I had the feeling that no one recognized me even though I remembered them. I didn't remember all their names but I remembered their faces. So I started to go up to some and tell them my name and ask theirs. Some of them would say "Oh, hi" and then walk away. Some didn't even bother to tell me their name. 

They all seemed to know and remember each other. I started to think maybe I looked odd, so I took off my jacket. I though they didn't like our house, so I started to straighten things up. I thought I wasn't being a good host so I started to offer tea, coffee and soft drinks. Nothing seemed to work, people were still ignoring me. 

Then suddenly it hit me. After all these years, they were still looking down on me like they had in high school.  I had moved to Tehran from a small town at tenth grade.  Back then in Iran it was customary to think that people from villages and small towns were less educated, backwards and in general, inferior.  Therefor I only had two friends, one was my childhood best friend who had moved from the same place as I, and the other was a nice person who had looked beyond where I had come from.  

I remember even then I was surprised at their behavior. I had never in my life experienced discrimination. Back in my old town I went to a public Iranian high school and even though I was from a religious minority I never felt discriminated against. If anything both teachers and students looked up to the Armenian students because we were good students, well mannered, and better dressed. However in Tehran in an Armenian high school among my own people I was being discriminated against and ignored. 

The behavior of my classmates puzzled me because I didn't see myself as inferior in any way.
I was smart, well read, came from an affluent family and dressed very modern. My mini skirts were as short as any of theirs and my platform shoes were as high as theirs. I wore knee high boots with my minis and long winter coats. My jeans were from America which my sister who lived there would bring for me. I don't remember being much bothered with the attitude of my classmates. I had a boyfriend at the time and he would take me to lunch everyday so I didn't even have time to make new friends. At the youth organization as the girls would ignore me, the boys liked me just fine. I remember hanging out with the boys and not feeling so bad for getting the cold shoulder by the girls.

This was a strange dream to say the least.  I've been thinking about it since waking up. I haven't seen any of these people since I left Iran, nor do I care to see.  It would be interesting however to see if they would behave like they did in my dream or if they have been enlightened. 

I wonder. 

P.S. I wish a psychologist would interpret my dream. I'm sure it says a lot about me as well as about my bigoted society.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Do I Stand For?

It's good to reaffirm your values and beliefs from time to time. I've been wondering about what do I stand for, what is important for me and the ideas that I value most. I had to think about this for a while and put things in order. So here it is.
  • Freedom to live in peace
  • Justice for all humans 
  • Love and kindness towards children and women
  • For all people to live comfortably and have enough to eat
  • A clean environment
  • Free education for all children of the world
  • No more wars
  • Democracy for all nations
  • No nuclear weapons
  • To treat animals with compassion
For me this would be an ideal world. I hope we can get there someday.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Relationship With God

Every night right before I fall sleep I say to myself "Thank you God for this roof over my head, thanks for the one sleeping by my side and thanks for my children". It's difficult for me to admit to doing this because it sounds as if I'm praying. The reason it's difficult to admit this is because I am an atheist. I have been an atheist since I was probably a seven year old child. The reason I have been an Atheist is because I have always believed that if there was a God there would be no Armenian genocide. The sad truth is that the majority of Armenian children are taught about the genocide very early. That is our way to insure no one forgets, that each new generation feels the same sense of injustice and rage that the previous generations have felt, and also know that the Turks have not accepted the crimes they committed, that justice has not been served, that we still need our motherland back. As I became older and learned about the history of mankind my belief in none existence of Gad became stronger. I found out that there has been so many other genocides, so many injustices around the world. They happened in the ancient times and modern times. Atrocities happened in every nation, in every country, by people against their own kind and by their enemies. In a smaller scale horrible crimes are committed every day against women, children the elderly and last but not least against animals. If we are to believe in the kind of Gad that the different religions of the world are telling us about, that God is all knowing, he is everywhere, he is just, he is loving, he loves children and animals then it becomes hard to believe. I'm not a theologists, I have never wanted to read any religious books nor study any religion and maybe that is the problem, I don't know. When there were still people in my family that wanted to convince me about the existence of God they would say things such as God knows best. He knows what he is doing, everything has a reason. Even when horrible things happen to good people there is a good reason behind it. I buy none of it.

I do agree with Einstein because the universe is incomprehensible but all the rest not. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I don't know why but I can't forget that Christmas long ago when I was 14 years old. We still lived in my home town Arak in Iran. My three older sisters were already married and gone away. One of them was visiting us that Christmas and had brought two friends along. They were a couple, an Armenian man and his American wife. My sisters and I were doing what we did every holiday night. We had lots of great food, homemade wine and were singing old Armenian songs all night long. The Armenian man had become very emotional from our songs. The songs we used to sing were mostly about love of  our homeland Armenia, mothers love, separation from family and such. Come to think of it they were all tear-jerkers. No wonder the fellow was getting teary eyed. I also became very emotional just seeing him so effected by our patriotism and unbridled nationalism. I drank a lot of wine and sang my heart out. I don't remember what I was doing but my family got worried about me and called a doctor. He gave me a shot and told my parents to let me sleep it off. The next day my parents didn't say anything to me, but my sister kept asking me why I had gotten so drunk. It was hard to explain, it still is. I think I was feeling sorry for that man because he never had a large family. He never was in an Armenian community. He had never heard such beautiful songs of yearning and love. He had married an American, could never be or raise his kids as pure Armenians like us. I could see in his tearful eyes the lamentation and his lost identity. To me that was tragic. I guess that is why I drank too much because I didn't know how to handle the knowledge of that great sorrow.