Why We Lack Conflict Resolution Skills

Joonie joons, everything has changed. That’s right, you heard me. EVERYTHING. I’m a new woman. You can’t necessarily see it, but my heart has melted from the inside out, and things will never be the same.

lisa

We Iranians don’t always have the best conflict resolution skills.

For example, a friend recently told me about a period in her childhood when her baba gave her several months’ worth of the saaket (silent) treatment for mishandling a glass of water near a computer. That sounds a little disproportionate, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, it reminded me of a very similar experience with my own father, whom by now you all know and love as the zealous, yet clueless, Facebook stalker that he is. When I was hella way younger, I went running down the driveway of the house he, my mom, and my two older brothers shared in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.

It was sunset, my favorite time of day, and the last rays of daylight were streaking through the fronds of palm trees and the wires of telephone poles. I was carrying a ceramic mug full of water and I must’ve tripped, or something, because next thing I know, I’m crying hysterically and Daddy dearest is landing open-handed smacks on my body and roundly denouncing the ills of breaking mugs in the driveway.

The rest of the night putters by in fits of agonized sadness from me and rageful admonishments from him. Yeah…and that was a drop in the ocean of quality family time he and I shared before and after that.

life

I’ve taken the time to illustrate such a personal story, because after hearing my friend’s own testimony and seeing a few other indicators from Iranian friends, I’m convinced that there’s a pattern here. In my friendships with other Iranian-Americans, I’ve borne witness to the fact that if our parents haven’t got the tools for peaceful conflict resolution…

we probably won’t either.

A generation, a nation, a society of people largely without such skills is in something of a torshi (pickle).

My friend and I share more than one thing in common: besides our shared challenges with handling liquid-filled vessels, we also both may never know what happened in the old country to make our fathers the way they are: so angry, so sensitive, so unreasonable.

Maybe that information would be helpful in understanding them — and in understanding ourselves. But we’ve got to do the best we can, as the saying goes, with what we’ve got.

And I’m writing to say that no matter what it takes, for my family, the buck stops here.

It stops with me.

Every time I want to lash out at someone for making a mistake, I will instead turn a loving gaze upon them; and every time a friend holds me to an inhuman standard, I will love them, too, with the love we both deserve.

It’s the love a child deserves when he breaks a glass; it’s that same love that a father deserves, yes, even when he himself can’t give it to his daughter. It’s what we all deserve, and when we lack it, its absence is what drives us to tear others down. So that stops with me. Right here, right now, azizaan, I fill my heart with love, and I offer it all to you.

Everything has changed.

TWEET AT JULIE: @JERSHADI

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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boos boos,

JULIE JOON جولی

My Persian Dad Found My Facebook

As I told you last time, my Iranian dad is hella mazhabi (Trans.: religious). To the point where it’s not even funny. I mean, it’s kind of funny, because it’s just absurd, but it also makes my relationship with him very painful. Most of the disagreements we have seem impossible to solve because, coming from two different worlds, he and I just can’t see eye-to-eye.

dadExample bedam? Khob:

I called him to tell him I would be home for Eid/Nowruz. It’s a beloved holiday for us, one of the few things he and I can share without cultural, generational, or ideological complications that plague the rest of our interactions. Telling him of my surprise plans to fly back to L.A. for a few days at the end of March should have been an opportunity for cheerfulness and lighthearted planning.

But we didn’t get to have such a conversation. Instead, after a few pleasantries, a khubi? here and a ghorboonet bream there…

he launched into berating me for what he’d found on my Facebook page.

I’m savvy enough, just barely, to have most of it on private lockdown, but I’ve left my profile pictures public. There are two reasons I didn’t think this was much of a problem, at least as far as my relationship with Baba jan is concerned: (1) I don’t post racy profile pictures (anymore, at least — it’s good to be out of college) and (2) even if I did, Dad doesn’t even understand the concept of the Internet well enough to know whether it’s a dump truck or a series of tubes, let alone to find my Facebook profile. Right?

on the line
Well…not exactly. This is the guy who tried to fix my Super Nintendo’s connection to his TV when I was 11 years old by pressing every button on the controller and seeing if the picture had cleared up. Yet somehow, I underestimated him on both fronts mentioned above: he apparently does know how to find my Facebook page, and…

my dad’s idea of a racy profile picture is pretty different from mine.

In one of the pictures, I’m sitting with a big group of friends after a mid-October potluck brunch. In the picture, I’m sitting beside my male — yes, male! — friend; his arm is around me and my hand is in his. He and I are good friends, so this posture felt completely natural and platonic — to me, anyway — at the time.

Clearly disturbed by the sight of this, though, Baba jan goes, “Rast nist ke (it’s not right) I sent you to Islamic school on the weekends when you were a child and now you’re living in Washington, D.C. and posting pictures of yourself holding hands with a guy you’re not married to. You’re hurting me, Julie.

As he went on to describe how his own pride was at stake should one of his friends see the photo in question and conclude that Agha Reza’s daughter is a jendeh, I had to pull the phone away from my face to keep from laughing right into the receiver.

wBut then it got dark, weird, and even a little accusatory:

“I just hope you aren’t like these millions of American girls who have gotten pregnant and killed their babies.”

Whoa buddy.

Just imagine the irony, joonies, or the absurdity; I don’t know what you want to call it, but the main reason I can assure Baba jan that the guy in the picture isn’t my boyfriend, and that I’ve never had either a child or an abortion, is that I’m gay.

I was so taken aback by his line of insinuation that I almost told him right then and there that…

I date women, not men.

But he was clearly in a sensitive state of mind, and from all this guilt-tripping I was starting to enter one, too, so best not to drop the L-bomb on this conversation.

But…seriously, he was asking for it. Maybe next time. And I still haven’t even told him I’ll be home for Eid.

TWEET AT JULIE: @JERSHADI

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ghorboonetoon beram elahi boos boos et cetera…

JULIE JOON جولی

7 Ways to Get Rid of your Moustache

Joonies,

We have hair everywhere.  This is a fact, whether the hair is blonde or black. Now, the ‘need to remove urgency‘ for every body part varies- with the least urgent being the legs. (No-Shave-November-December-Janu—basically anytime its cold)

The most urgent? The moustache troll that lies above your lips.

Here’s ways to get rid of it from the ultra-temporary to the permanent, and at various price points and pain levels.

1. Shaving

Time: >1 min

Price: $10 for a pack of razors   

How long does it last? Not long enough.*

Pain? None, unless you knick yourself.

*Not recommended, unless you’re into that ‘5’oclock shadow’ for yourself. If you’re desperate with only a razor lying around- fine, but be warned as it’s growing back, it’ll feel prickly (like anywhere else you shave).

2. Waxing

waxing options

Time: >5 min

Price: $5-10

How long does it last? 2-3 weeks

Pain? Have you ever been slapped across the face?  Very similar feeling, but you’re getting the hair at the root so –no pain, no gain.

3. Threading

Hayv-Kahraman_Threading-My-Mustache_2010_Oil-on-wooden-panel_112x87cm

Time: ~5-7min

Price: $5

How long does it last? For me- 2 weeks at most.

Pain? Worse than waxing, because it feels like your skin is getting pinched and scraped at the same time.

4. Hair Removal Cream

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Time: ~5-10min

Price: $5-8

How long does it last? 2 weeks at most. So here’s the deal, I am eternally scarred from all hair removal creams due to the experiences I had when I was in puberty and desperately trying to remove my moustache. One, the smell– it is a funky, NAIR smell, and once you smell it you’ll always remember the ‘Nair’ smell. Two, one time I had an awful reaction to the cream and it looked like I had broken out in hives/herpes/cuts all around my upper lip. I was barely 14, and my mom still made me go to school.

Pain? None. Potentially a few weeks of embarrassment (if you have an allergic reaction to it).

5. Bleach

homepageTime: ~10-15min

Price: $5-10

How long does it last? 2-3 weeks.

Pain? NONE. This is the best way to hide your mouchie if you’re lazy, out of other options, or all of the above. Technically though, you’re not ‘removing’ any hair; you’re just camouflaging it.

6. Tweezing

200-03961-000_dt

Time: Forever.

Price: $5

How long does it last? 1-2 weeks.

Pain? Surprisingly can get very painful, and since it’s rather ineffective, I only pluck if I have some very noticeable dark hairs. Usually I just look over at the tweezer and remind myself ‘just for eyebrows’.

7. Laser Hair Removal/Electrolysis

upper-lip-hair-removal-best-solutions-and-costs_-lop-_3

Time: ~5-7min

Price: >$250

How long does it last? Eventually hair-free*

Pain? A burn and a pinch at the same time.

*Is it worth it? There’s a lot I would give up to be hair-free, but it’s important to note that it’s never a guarantee. You may pay the $$$ but still end up having to use some temporary removal methods later on. 

All of the above is based on my experiences, and so results may vary. Do you have a preferred route for getting rid of the moustache? Let me know in the comments section.

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Mustache Out,

SAAGHI ساقی

Surviving Without Persian Parents

Most of us spent our adolescence counting down the days until we could move out; so we could be rid of the rules, questions, and weird home remedies. I would dream about moving to the east coast when I was just in high school.

olivia

I’ve been living far away from my parents for three years now (happy anniversary… almost) and I’ve come to a few harsh realizations (other than the obvious I miss them):

1. When I call them more than they call me. When I lived in the same state as my parents, if I missed calling my mom for ONE day, she’d berate me for worrying her. Now she’s too busy to talk to me.

lauren

2. Stating the obvious: home-cooked meals. But like…

Whose mother is not a good cook? And how is leaving that not the biggest sacrifice?

Just make sure you find a place to live that’s near an Iranian restaurant for a little to-go Fessenjoon action (downside: your parents aren’t paying). And take a big suitcase when you visit home, because your mom will sneak frozen containers of ghormeh sabzi and tahcheen into your bag.

Sorry, I don’t consider “learning to cook” an option.

pp

3. Most of all, I can’t believe how much I am like them. I probably judge people almost as much as my mom does. Hell, I judge people for not talking to their families a few times a week. I’ve definitely adopted my father’s lecturing conversation style. Thanks Dad. And the ‘yelling on the phone’ to make a point? Yep, I’ve started doing that too.

You don’t realize how much you are like your parents, until you step away from them.

No wonder we’re so good at doing impressions of them.

reza

Obviously, it’s not all bad. Being away from Persian parents, you can choose which guys you want to introduce them to. They won’t discover it on their own by a random drive-by or “accidentally” using your phone. You don’t have a curfew (adulthood means nothing to our parents)… etc.

Our culture puts a strong emphasis on family – supporting one another, living up to their expectations, and being reliable for them. I hate that I miss moments in my parent’s lives and if anything exciting happens to me, they’re the first people I call. For all of their control issues…

The Persian family bond is undeniable.

It’s not just about the folded laundry and housekeeping that you don’t even have to ask for. Though the esfand is definitely a must-have.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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TWEET AT ME: @FARRAH_JOON

xoxo,

FARRAH فرح

To FOB or not to FOB?

Hi Joonies,

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of dating FOBs.

image

First, a basic definition to start off with so we’re all clear as to who this concerns:

F.O.B – (n) an acronym for “Fresh Off the Boat”, and refers to new immigrants to a country (mostly Western). Now commonly used to describe any person new to a country, who is not well versed with its language or culture (mainly Western). Can be taken as an insult, or a term of endearment (eg; pride of culture).”

PRO: They speak the mother tongue so well, and it gets you kind of hot when you guys are alone. And you know that amazing ‘Farsi/Persian‘ skills means a slam dunk with the parents.

CON: But then you realize that they have a Persian accent when they speak English, and that just makes you feel all self-conscious when you bring him around your friends. (and let’s be honest, you can never convince yourself that the accent is sexy.)

PRO: They seem to still have some old school culture and chivalry, and that makes you feel warm and lady-like– I mean, a man with manners who picks up the tab is always sexy.

CON: But some of that chivalry just turns out to be chauvinism and ….

PRO: In their lives, FOB guys have had it pretty rough and left everything they’ve known to come to a new country with a new culture. They’ve proved they can stand on their own two feet.– DAMN. #Respect

CON: BUT, they may be on the prowl for a woman just so she can replace his mom. He could be missing the warm meals and clean laundry. (watch out!)

PRO: Finally, there’s so much they can teach you about a part of your culture that you never got to experience because you’ve never spent more than a vacation’s time in Iran.

That, arguably, could be priceless.

CON: Or it could be exhausting because you’d have so much to catch them up on.

Hello, Pop Culture waits for no one!

So I guess the jury is out. With a FOB, you gain some -you lose some. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste (and patience), right?

thoughts on our new look? sexandfessenjoon@gmail.com

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FOB/noFOB,

SAAGHI ساقی

Is Tarof True?

“Tarof” can really suck. So many of our parent’s interactions have double meanings and hidden truths – sometimes I just tune out because I don’t know if they really do want their friends to come over or because they’re just living up to a certain standard.

For those of you who don’t know:

Tarof: can be described as a specific form of Iranian etiquette or politeness, and comes with a very specific set of rules of how to interact with other people. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating and seem disingenuous, but at other times, it provides a nice framework of how to interact with other people in an extremely polite and respectful way.

judge

A lot of times, tarof is a gateway to making you do something that you don’t really want — and the consequences don’t even feel good momentarily.

I grew up watching my mom tarof excessively around friends and family. Now she says, “I alvays do too much for people” but she still doesn’t stop tarof’ing – whether its staying home all day to bake a cake for someone’s mehmooni that night or letting an overstayed guest remain in her home for weeks.

It really didn’t take long for me to realize how much my mom’s tarof problems have had an impact on me.

At least when you’re tarofing with Iranians, they tarof back. When you tarof with white people, you end up giving away your entire burrito because someone wanted a bite. [Read more...]

I’m A Little Bit Selfish

Hi there joonies, this post was sent to us during the week of the Boston Marathon bombings. 

This week has been hard for me as an Iranian American and as a Muslim. It was hard because of an incomprehensible attack in Boston, which made me and many others nervously hope wasn’t related to the peaceful religion we practice at home. It was hard because there was another earthquake in Iran, affecting the poorest in the country, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to help in any way because the sanctions imposed to limit the Iranian government’s nuclear activity have actually blocked the transfer of much-needed humanitarian items like food and medicine. But like all people everywhere, I’m a little bit selfish, and it hurt the most because I broke up with my boyfriend, whom I love, over ambiguous and big words like culture, values, and lifestyle.

My now ex-boyfriend is Hindu. I am Muslim. (Cue all past and future Bollywood movie plotlines ever.)

I am not South Asian, so I don’t think I can ever fully understand the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims, or between almost any two religions in that subcontinent for that matter. I suppose I am Shi’a, but my parents immigrated from a predominantly Shi’a country, so I cannot even claim to fully understand the Shi’a-Sunni conflict, although I joke with my Sunni friends that they’re just oppressing me whenever we argue over something.

Interracial and interfaith relationships are always interesting, but they have their own special significance when it comes to first-generation Americans. Being raised with a culture and often religion that is not predominant in the country our parents immigrated to, and which we now call home, we feel the enormous responsibility to be the keepers of traditions near to our own hearts. Traditions, which we feel are often at stake of being lost in this darn Westernization our parents always referred to when we were growing up.The languages in which our parents told us fairy tales, the foods we grew up eating and still haven’t mastered to cook, and the community we are scared of being exiled from when we lose the things we can’t quite put our fingers on.

Many of us have decided that the only way to remain a part of this community, and to retain the things we know are important but don’t know how to put into words, is to create a family with someone like us. [Read more...]

Say My Name

Joons,

Yesterday I had brunch with my mama, and I can’t remember how this conversation started, but one moment she was suddenly asking me “Do you like your name?

Without even hesitating, I responded, “Yes! Of course!

She smiled and said, “I remember poring through a list of names and Naseem just stood out to me… it felt right. I knew you’d be a Naseem.”

Of course, I couldn’t always say that I loved my name…

There is a vivid memory floating around the back of my head that I desperately wanted to change my name to Kelly in second grade.

witness

How does an eight year old decide with such conviction at that age

“oh shit gotta change my name ASAP, brb?” 

(I remember why I wanted the name Kelly: one of my favorite waitresses at the chelokabobi in town was named Kelly, and baba and I frequented that place with all my amoo’s in tow on a weekly basis). I told my parents about this desire, and of course, they did not oblige my request.

Fast forward to the reckless and angsty age of fourteen, where identity crisis is unavoidable.  Imagine the extra heaping of namak on my puberty-ridden rage wounds of wondering “who the hell am I turning into” with a name like Naseem on top of all the ish you deal with as a teenager.

I hated my name and started asking people to call me Jennifer. [Read more...]

Material Guy

Hihi joonies,

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas — I’m not trying to make a religious assertion here, but we know that most Iranians love to go all out for Christmas. Presents, the competition between families as to who has the better tree, who cooked the best dinner, who’s gained the most holiday weight, etc. – not that I’m complaining, I am not afraid to show off my holiday weight as long as they continue to feed me.

I LOVE tadig

I LOVE tadig

But I skipped PERSIAN/VERZION Christmas this year and instead hid out in a small town with some close friends. #cantcomplain

The best part about spending time with close friends during the holidays is not just the ability to avoid interrogations about where you’re going, what you’re eating, what you’re doing (love my family I swear) — but the best part really is being able to just talk about anything without worrying that your 16 year old brother is eavesdropping.

Most of my friends and I are pretty different.  We all chose different areas of work to pursue, we have different tastes in guys, different interests, but when it comes to boy trouble – our issues are usually the same.

Confusion over relationships is universal.

Sometimes I feel like relationships aren’t as innocent they used to be.  Back in high school, I had this boyfriend for two weeks and then that boyfriend for another two weeks. The concern over whether he had family values or was goal-oriented was never really an issue because in high school, we were in the moment rather than focusing on the future.

At least I was.

Now in my 20’s, every date I go on or every boy I meet, I go through a mental checklist to see if they meet up to my “desired needs” aka to see if they are list material.

rudd

I usually decide between the first five – ten minutes whether the guy I’m talking to meets my requirements (though I’ve been blinded many times). 

We all have that ideal perfect man drawn up in our head. [Read more...]

Riding In Cars With Boys

JOONIES:

It’s official- summer is ending.  I haven’t really felt any humidity for a few days, the AC is officially off… not that I’m a fan of humidity or anything, but is it just me or did this summer go by REALLY FAST?

Now I have to prepare for snow and freezing cold weather- we all know how well that will turn out #CaliGirlForLife.  Bring on the face masks.

At least it’s pretty

When I was younger… before the drama hit the fan and I had to assume a shit ton of responsibility and act like a parent… my mom and I had a very special relationship.

She would excuse me from class so that we could have mother/daughter days.  She used to take me shopping on a biweekly basis.  We would sit and talk for hours about everything going on in my life- I would confide in her about boys, friends, my secrets (not relating to sex OBVS).

My mom was the first person I would tell if I had a new boyfriend.  Of course, our “sharing” had guidelines.

1.  Never ever tell her if I had hooked up/given head/made out shamelessly in my high school boyfriend’s car.

2.  NEVER admit to ditching class as much as I did.

3. And most importantly, never show any weakness if a boyfriend broke up with me and I was sad AKA NO CRYING.

THAT was non-negotiable– because to her, crying over a boy was as bad as killing someone. [Read more...]

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