Dating the Forbidden Fruit

As long as I can remember, my parents have told me that the guy I want to marry has to be successful, but really all Persian parents say that.

q

When I got to college I was pretty done with putting effort into dating. Then of course when I least expected it, or really even wanted it, a boy came around who was a little crazy over me. I was (as most Iranian girls are) super stand-offish, I just didn’t really want to waste my time on some guy who didn’t fit my parents criteria, and more importantly MINE.

I basically interrogated this poor guy for a week, asking him everything from what his ambitions were to what his parent’s careers were-  they have to come from a good family right? Well turns out this guy wants to become a doctor, and to top it off his dad is a doctor, and to make matters even better-  he was such an extreme gentleman.

Yeah don’t worry something went real wrong real quick.

I’m an Iranian Bahá’i, and drum roll please… he was a half White half Egyptian Arab Muslim.

 giphy

Honestly was the universe trying to ruin my life?

Here is where it goes even further south, I’m not even religious. Around the age of 16 I just kind of figured out that this whole religion thing was not for me. I would attend Bahá’í gatherings for my grandmother’s sake, but really I was pretty disconnected from it all at that point. As I got even older I was completely over it! I have no strife with the Bahá’í Faith.

I actually think it’s pretty cool, but I just didn’t believe it in my heart or any other religion…

so I chose to stop faking it.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to break it to this guy that Arabs and Iranians have a not so good history, and Bahá’ís are being killed by Muslims as we speak. The icing on the cake was we left Iran because of religious persecution. You can only imagine how my parents were going to take the news. But what could I do? He is a genuinely amazing guy that happens to partake in Ramadan, and has Qurans around his house.

Well now I’m stuck…

I’m dating the forbidden fruit, for over a year to be exact.

snow

My parents like him, but they’re terrified for my future and rightfully so considering their experiences with Arabs and Muslims has been just about every synonym of AWFUL. But I love this guy, yeah I said love, but how many of our parents have married the people they love? They just picked a khastegar (suitor), not the love of their life.

It’s old school of me to say love doesn’t always triumph…

there are enough problems in marriage should our religion be one of them?

HELP OUR JOONIE OUT.

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What is failure?

I have had a mental timeline for my life (don’t laugh): I would graduate college at 21 (check), get my masters’ at 23, have a kick-ass career by 25 (and be financially stable), get engaged 26-27, get married 27-28, and have my first baby at 31.5. I know, I know. Ridiculous.

life

Having goals is what motivates us. Let me clarify that marriage and children were not my most important goal. I just have had it imprinted in my brain that those things must come after stable career (I still do).

I have known what I’ve wanted to do for a living since I was a kid.

But I have also, like many people, had unrealistic expectations of how fast my goals should be achieved. Between having the lavish lives of young celebrities being shoved down our throats and parents praising Leily Khanoom’s nephew, who got a job on Wall Street upon graduation, there is a lot of pressure to look at our own direction and analyze how fast we’re going. Especially, if we haven’t chosen the doctor/lawyer/engineer route. The bar is constantly being raised just a little bit higher.

I’ve had this silly notion that if I haven’t made it by my mid-20’s, then that would mean “failure”.

But what is failure?

quote-Michael-Jordan-ive-failed-over-and-over-and-over-49

It’s not being financially unstable. It’s not being unmarried. It’s giving up your dreams. It’s settling and being unhappy.  Everyone struggles in the beginning. Doctors have to go through years of med school and residency before they can be actual doctors. Lawyers have to win several cases in order to prove hirable. Managers always start out at the bottom of the company chain. Actors must live paycheck to paycheck for several years until they score a significant role. You get it. But over and over in my brain, I’ve still been freaking out. What if I can’t ever hold a stable career as an actress/screenwriter? Being a performer may not have an endpoint—it’s totally up to fate. What if I end up in destitute and my parents become ashamed of me and I stay husband-less and become a joke to the community and everyone else and—and— 

I’ve been visiting my hometown undergraduate college (where I also got accepted for graduate school) and all I can think to myself as I walk around is how much I don’t want to be returning there in the Fall. I’ve been so dead-set on finishing my education all at once, that I’m having a hard-time wrapping my head around taking off from school for a year or so and working until I get another chance at attending a graduate school for something that I do want. I told one of my good friends about going back to school for my “back-up” and she just looked at me as if I was crazy and said, “So what do you want to be? A degree-collector?”

grad

For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either go for it and risk failure (like, serious failure) or continue a path that I’m not really interested in. I am content with the fact that I might not get married until my 30’s. Maybe I won’t even have kids. And if I’m not successful by Persian or even American community standards by a specific age or even at all, so what?

I just need to muster up the courage to chase my dream.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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TWEET AT SARAH: @SARAHIZJALEEAH

xoxo,

SARAH سارا

#ManlyNoseMonday: Poets Edition

We know it’s been awhile, but you know how this goes: name that nose!

Poets edition.

nose

Let’s get this list started – a tribute to noses belonging to the sweet poetry of dreamers and creative minds everywhere.

Rumi: the nose of wisdom.

The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart

 Al-Mutanabbi: the nose of courage and wit.

I have slain the man that sought my heart’s blood many a time

wikipedia

wikipedia

Mazen Maarouf: the nose of survival.

I throw my heart in the air
Heads
Or tail

(poem)

Edgar Allen Poe: the nose of mystery.

I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched

peru.com

peru.com

And finally, the moment you’ve obviously been waiting for throughout this post. Did you guess that nose? Here’s a hint:

It drops deep as it does in my breath/I never sleep, ’cause sleep is the cousin of death/Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined/I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind

NAS: the nose of truth.

nas

 Nominate your manliest nose (or nose-picks) for #ManlyNoseMonday by dropping us a comment!

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I use words like thugs and siyah.

I have a lot of friends – thugs, sefeed people, PERSIAN, siyah’s, etc. Okay, I don’t actually refer to my friends like that… anymore.

officeI was raised in a pretty lenient household – I was free to do what I wanted (sex not included), stay out late, go out with friends, etc. But that doesn’t mean I was safe from hate. My parents frequently used derogatory terms to describe anyone from a race that wasn’t Persian or white.

Black people are thugs and cheaters. Mexicans are hamals. Arabs are shady.

Even with my family visiting us from Iran for the first time – their judgements of people are based solely on the color of their skin and the stereotypes that match it: “well she’s Mexican, they’re good for that type of work” or “ahhhhhh Arab??? No wonder he looks kaseef” (translation: dirty).

kanye

And it wasn’t just my family. My friends came from all different backgrounds – South American, Indian, Asian, white, black — but whenever it came to boys and dating, our rating of them included their race. We had nicknames for black guys (BBC’s = big black cock), white guys were just oh he’s white, etc. And our first question whenever a friend mentioned they had a new crush was what is he?

I don’t think I realized the error in our ways until even after college: when I entered the work world and saw firsthand how racism can change people’s lives — how much race plays a part in getting hired and moving up the food chain. I saw how gentrification can be a bad thing and how our society positions one race to be more successful than another.

Suddenly, it wasn’t so much about whether I was dating a black guy — but that…

the struggle is real and as people of color, we are all fighting against it.

books

Back then, we didn’t know any better – my family doesn’t know better and doesn’t realize that strength comes in numbers, and in college, my friends and I didn’t think that we were being harmful.

But not knowing any better is still racism.

And that’s pretty difficult to accept especially with people who don’t actually think they’re being racist – my family thinks their assertions are facts. And I’ve tried to explain to them politically, socially, and emotionally why they are wrong — but to them, I’m just “too sensitive.”

And that’s why at s&f we have posts where we use the same language that some of us grew up with. We promised we wouldn’t be PC…

We can’t change where we came from, but we can change where we are going.

We only hope you read enough to differentiate between the sarcastic from the real. We don’t claim to represent the entire generation of young Iranian Americans, but we do claim to represent ourselves and attempt to create a dialogue. 

Because without the dialogue, how will we ever grow as a community?

So hate it or love it, we want to hear it.

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Relationships are like a Math Problem

Relationships can be fraught with all kinds of disagreements that fall on the spectrum from petty to apocalyptic, and frankly you need to have disagreements. But how can you fight like hell without it falling (entirely) to pieces?

*disclaimer: I am not a relationship therapist. Just sharing what’s worked for me.

tvd

Treat your disagreements like a math problem by following these simple rules:

By being selfless.
By listening deeply.
By exhibiting empathy.

Selflessness: you may feel wronged in a situation, but it’s important to know exactly why and how the other person was wronged, too. By being selfless, you can objectively consider your own actions.

Suspend your ego for a moment.

Listen deeply: truly listen – let him/her finish a thought before you respond. Instead of countering with defensive language (though it isn’t easy at times), provide logical and objective reasoning for your action/s. Logic is key here. I do believe it’s important to own, experience, and defend our feelings. But you can defend/protect yourself without defensive language (including body language).

kim

Exhibit empathy: put yourself in your mate’s shoes. Once s/he has logically explained the thinking/reactionary patterns that created the emotional response, it’s easier to understand how exactly A+B=C for that person. And please, don’t insult.

In short…

Goal: treat sticky situations like a math problem and handle it with logic and patience to reach a solution.

love

Now, none of this is to say if you try this method your problems will suddenly become cute little soap bubbles that require a simple pop to disappear- a fight can be gnarly as hell and leave some emotional residue, and require time to cool off/be alone before talking. And all of this takes emotional maturity, patience, and willingness. But, if you can give those things to one another, even the most painful confrontations can be handled with more dignity.

Do you agree with my methods? Are math problems the key to our relationship drama?

Cry it out,

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xo,

NASEEM نسیم

10 Hottest Persian Women

These are the women who should be our examples, our inspiration. As we always say, screw tradition, do what makes you happy. Here are just a few Iranian women who inspire us:

1. Nazanin Boniadi.

best known for her roles in How I Met Your Mother, Scandal, and Homeland.

(Fun fact: first Middle Eastern to ever get a contract with American daytime television).

But what you may not know… she was set in following the Persian path – attending medical school at UC Irvine (where she won the Chang Pin-Chun Undergraduate Research Award for molecular research involving cancer treatment and heart transplant), but ended up dropping out and pursuing her passion of acting. When she’s not wowing audiences on screen, Nazanin works as a spokesperson for Amnesty International USA with a focus on the unjust conviction and treatment of Iranian youth, women, and prisoners of conscience.

2. Shermine Shahrivar.

Miss Europe, 2005. Iranian-German. Student.

(and she dated Kanye). 

Winning Miss Germany in 2004, Shermine went on to dominate the beauty pageant scene. You don’t have to be for beauty pageants, but you can’t deny that Shermine went on to do great things. Currently, the face of American Apparel and a student at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York.

She also radiates Persian pride — in 2005, she was host of the Oberhausen, Germany Nowruz celebration, said to be the largest in the World.

3. Marjane Satrapi.

Author of Persepolis. No brainer.

Award winning graphic novelist and filmmaker. Master of tongues: fluent in Farsi, French, English, Swedish, German, and Italian. Most importantly, she speaks her mind:

If people are given the chance to experience life in more than one country, they will hate a little less. It’s not a miracle potion, but little by little you can solve problems in the basement of a country, not on the surface.

4. Sarah Shahi.

Actress. Former NFL Cheerleader. Sinfully hot.

And she’s Persian loyalty: a descendant of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar of the Qajar Dynasty. Do we really need to say more?

From The Sopranos to Dawson’s Creek to The L Word, Sarah’s resume speaks for itself. Her given name was Aahoo (translation: gazelle), but she changed it to Sarah after being tormented in school.

How mad are those tormenters now?  

5. Davar Ardalan.

Public media guru. Interactive storyteller. Social media expert. Voice for Iranian Americans.

Davar has time and time again educated the country on Iranian traditions and examined the close cultural dynamics between Iranians and Americans. She also made sure everyone is aware of the significance of the haftsin. Most importantly, she constantly strives to give a voice to women of color.

6. Sara Racey Tabrizi.

Former America’s Next Top Model contestant. Known for being “too sexy for the fashion industry,” but not too sexy for us.

(what does “too sexy” even mean?) 

She was dismissed from ANTM in the 7th round, but that didn’t stop her from modeling for multiple brands including: L’Oreal, Converse, Pulse, King and Maxim. She went on to sign modeling contracts with TBM Models and Talent, APM Model Management and Mensa Management.

Take that, Tyra. Living proof to always try, try again.

7. Parisa Tabriz.

Dubbed “Google’s Security Princess.”

She spends her day hacking into Google. Yes, you read that right. Plus, her title actually is Security Princess” at Google. She gets paid to think like a criminal so that Google can continue their impenetrable existence on the internets. 

“Some people in other parts of the industry, they introduce themselves as, like, ‘vice president,’ with all of these certifications. I couldn’t give a shit. You could be Code Monkey Number 507, but if you’re doing cool stuff, I’m much more interested in talking to you than to whoever’s senior vice president.”

She also exclusively wears black. #respect

8. Kathreen Khavari.

Actress. Proves that she can actually do any role. Beauty and the brains.

(she’s also a JOONIES alum)

She graduated on the Dean’s Honor List from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in infectious diseases. Post-degree, she took a leap of faith and moved to New York where she pursued acting gigs and ultimately, developed the web series “Famous Farrah.” The web series married her love for acting and her background in science in a pretty damn funny way.

But most people know Kat through this video — where she proved that diversity comes in many shapes, sizes, and accents. Basically, she’s not about portraying that terrorist role in Hollywood, and we’re down with that.

9. Nazanin Mandi.

Triple threat: model, singer, Persian. Part Iranian, Spanish, Mexican, and Native American to be exact.

Did we mention she can sing in five different languages? Mastery of jazz and classical music? Check. She’s currently working on her debut album with the talented Miguel… who’s also her main squeeze. Her modeling resume ranges from Maxim Magazine to Esquire, GQ India, and Cosmo Girl (with many more included). Fact: brown is beautiful.

10. Kiana Hayeri.

Photographer. Breaking stereotypes all day.

Born in Tehran, raised in Canada – Kiana strives to bridge the gap between her Iranian heritage and Canadian upbringing. Something so many of us first generation-ers experience. She uses her camera to tell stories with a “social message,” – focusing on young women and the challenges that Iranians face both in Iran and abroad. Some of her works include “Beyond the Veil,” and “Your Veil is Your Battleground:”

Your Veil is Your Background

Your Veil is Your Battleground

JOONS – WHO WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST? LEAVE US A COMMENT AND WE’LL ADD THEM TO THE LIST.

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6 American Foods I Don’t Get as an Iranian AMERICAN

I don’t consider myself a foodie:

a pretentious term used for people who eat super expensive meals in tiny portions.

… but I love food. Like, hi I’m Persian, I need more than one bite of koobideh.

My American side loves burgers, hot dogs, donuts, and anything else you can imagine. At the end of the day, I was born in Wisconsin. 

But there’s just some American foods I can’t get on board with.

I don’t get the hype and I feel like people who do, are just lying and really need to rethink their life decisions.

1. Grits.

Living on the east coast, I’ve been introduced to the world of southern cuisine. I welcomed hush puppies with open arms, but grits? Even the name sounds shady.

 2. Biscuits and Gravy.

Why do you need to dump sludge on your biscuits? It makes them soggy. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of biscuits? Gravy is the recipe for indigestion and heart burn.

 3. Red Velvet Cake.

Frosting I’m down for. Cake that has red food coloring (which adds no value to the taste) doesn’t make sense. It looks like a science project gone wrong.

4. Wings.

Thank you for pouring gallons of sauce over the tiniest chicken wings I’ve ever seen. You have to order 20 just so it makes a dent in your appetite. Does someone have a pitcher of water I can chug?

5. Bacon JAM.

People are putting bacon on everythingBut bacon JAM? Just no.

6. Casserole.

Is it soup? Is it pasta? Do you mix it with rice? Why is soup an ingredient?

Casseroles are like the khoresht rejects.

JOONS, am I missing out? Comment us with your least/favorite American foods.

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Manly Nose Monday

You know the drill by now #manlynosemonday

guess who?

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 5.18.31 PM

 

 

For now, here’s to all the members of the German World Cup champion team…proving that the manlier nosed men always win.

 

Miroslav Klose

source: news.zing.vn
source: news.zing.vn

Thomas Muller

source: ibtimes
source: ibtimes

Bastian Schweinsteiger

source: rappler

source: rappler

Sami Khedira

source: fifazine

source: fifazine

and the nose at the top belongs to..

source: wonderland

source: wonderland

joe

Joe Manganiello

 

Iran: Unedited History

This summer, I was lucky enough to take a trip to Europe with my Baba joon. When we were in Paris, we kept seeing advertisements for the exhibition, IRAN: Unedited History.

iran

Curious, we decided to check it out at the Museum of Modern Art. The large gallery of drawings, pictures, film, posters, and artifacts is split into three sections: The era of Modernization (1960-1978), the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War (1979-1988), and the Contemporary era (1989-2014).

The art hung on white walls. It was not at all crowded and eerily quiet.

People seemed to be too intrigued to comment.

iran1

The only sounds came from Iranian movies that had been montaged into a five-screen presentation in one corner. Switching between scenes of a seductive, glamorous Persian film star, to crying and mourning from chadori women in the haram, and fight scenes between Persians and Mongolians, softly echoing throughout the deadly quiet gallery.

A Kurd family, most likely during the period of the Iran-Iraq war. Isn't the one on the left super-attractive?

A Kurd family, most likely during the period of the Iran-Iraq war. Isn’t the one on the left super-attractive?

After reading Iran’s timeline, which was written on the wall, we saw paintings by artists such as Bahman Mohassess.

Colorful posters from the Arts Festival in Shiraz hung above drawings and newspaper articles about events both good and bad.

The “prostitution gallery” by Kaveh Golestan, was a significant portion of the exhibition. Black-and-white photos of women, old and young, sitting in their rooms or on the streets. A video, which could be listened to with headphones, plays interviews with the women, revealing how they were tricked or sold into the terrible lives they lead—some of them have children.

Interestingly enough, the collection was donated by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

The Revolution period exhibited anti-Shah and pro-democracy posters next to a projection screen showing a slideshow of clips and photos of the 1979 protests and welcoming of Imam Khomeini.

Perhaps the hardest section of the exhibition to view was that of the Iran-Iraq War. Pictures and slideshows of destroyed cities, bodies spread across the dirt, facial shots of the dead, and helplessness in the eyes of those still alive, caused me to look away more than once, not just for how graphic it was, but also the sorrow reality that war-torn Iran had suffered.

An akhoond and his family - they're husbands and fathers, too - period of the Iran-Iraq war.

An akhoond and his family – they’re husbands and fathers, too – period of the Iran-Iraq war.

The last section of the exhibition was perhaps the most simple; weird and intriguing by contemporary Persian artists. A black-and-white slideshow of an Iranian inside the home. There was a backroom of tangible birds and black boxes of coal, perhaps used during the war. There were physical tombstones; one of them, unmarked.

At that moment, it strangely started to smell exactly like Iran.

the stand-up portraits of people holding heads) - Funky modern art by a contemporary artist.

the stand-up portraits of people holding heads) – Funky modern art by a contemporary artist.

The exhibition ended with a few political animations that took up the entire wall; most likely from the 2009 protests.

The last time I had felt this cold leaving a museum was when I had visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The chilling reality of our culture’s history affected me; I was unable to keep the black-and-white photos of eyes of Iranians, both happy and despaired. There was something haunting about even the contemporary slideshow, which featured pictures from a wedding and in-house gatherings.

It was simply a history lesson to my generation, and a painful reminiscence to the generation of our parents.

This painting took up the entire wall. It was meant to symbolize contemporary issues in Iran and was one of the last stops at the exhibit.

This painting took up the entire wall. Symbolize contemporary issues in Iran and was one of the last stops at the exhibit.

The exhibition will be open in Paris until August 24th. Overall, it was an interesting and educational experience. Hopefully, it can be shown in the United States and other parts of the world. There is a lot of sympathy to be drawn and…

a lot to be learned about our people’s past.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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TWEET AT SARAH: @SARAHIZJALEEAH

xoxo,

SARAH سارا

Manly Nose Monday

For this edition of #ManlyNoseMonday we have some nose-y Iranian and non-Iranian actors.

But have you ever seen a manlier nose than this? Guess who it belongs to.

source: celebstoner

source: celebstoner

(Revealed at the end.)

Amir Arison

tall, dark and schnozzy. Loving it.

source: zimbio

source: zimbio

Bahram Radan

Jesus never looked so good.

source: flixster

source: flixster

 

Haaz Sleiman

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 4.48.41 PM

 

Liam Neeson

liam nee

Arian Moayed

source: NBC

source: NBC

And finally, if you didn’t guess before, that nose belongs to..

OWEN WILSON

owen wilson

What other actors would you add?

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