She’s complicated like a viol played by Jordi Savall. Mysterious, decisive, strong, and vulnerable all wrapped in an irresistibly beautiful shell. Moti houses profound emotions and pains. Yet, her heart blows out of the chimney of her house.

There are people who create distance because they want to maintain freshness. I view that as the levity of life and a cute game. I even play that game because it comes from the place of desire to be important. The root of it is housed in sweetness of the dream we call life.

I got to know Moti years ago. There were some wavy periods between us –but she ended up being all heart. All of our encounters happened around the apple tree.

The Block

There are days when the only way I can survive is by pretending I’m someone else. I talk to people, but I quite never know if I have said too much, or not enough. The worst part of those days is not being able to read and write.

It has been a few weeks since I’ve been able to write anything that seems meaningful or creative. The context and direction of my thoughts don’t align.

I need to find myself…

Asshole Kid

There is always great drama in things being unspoken and hidden specially when one has an urge to tell them. There are times when you think someone is dreamy because of their oblique behavior, but the fact might be that they never chose to be dreamy. Perhaps, dreaminess was thrust upon them because they didn’t get noticed. What you’re hearing from dreamy people isn’t necessarily what they’re imagining you’re hearing.

In the household I grew up in, my brother was the smart kid and my sister was the beautiful kid. The only vacancy for me was the troubled asshole kid. So I embraced the role and I became pretty good at it. So much so that, my mom once said “If I didn’t have you, I wouldn’t know how it feels like to have a son”.

Close to the end of winter, I went back home to visit my parents. On the second day of the visit, I took the entire day off to lay down on my bed. While staring up to the ceiling, I found myself fighting confusion, because I had no idea where or how to begin the process of reconciling what was going on in my memories -and the reality of my present life. I went out for lunch, surely, and at night, but otherwise remained flat on my back on the bed.

I had assembled enough thoughts to fill a silo, and now I had no idea what to do with it. I thought to write them down and ultimately I couldn’t write even one sentence. I was blocked by a shrill dichotomy. I was stymied by unsophistication. I had never tried to put so many different components, characters, description, dialogue, narrative, set pieces, humor, history, drama, and so forth into a single bundle. So I slept on it until I got back.

After a long period of evaluation I concluded: a complicated story is just another story. This one is personal. It’s one man’s experience trying to reconcile the past and present. The passage between east and west. The tale of transitioning from respect to fairness. It has become my challenge to appreciate, and hopefully, relay something of it. I like stories when they’re just there for cheap laughs, but occasionally experiences like this make me reflect and feel there’s something to twig.

I might have been the asshole kid during those remote years. But in the end, I think I’m only a combination of all three kids.


A couple of days ago I had a chat that reminded me of a blog I posted back in 2007 about online dating. So I decided to re-post a few paragraphs of it, again.

[October 2007]
I’m usually fascinated by subjects that don’t immediately urge me to place an opinion. Online dating is one of those. A few weeks ago, I had dinner with an old friend and during our long conversation she said “I’ve put a profile on one of these dating sites and I go on a lot of dates with strange guys”. For some unknown reason our conversation temporarily got to a tongue-tied place after the disclosure:

… eating …
… long silence …
… eating more …
… awkward silence again …
… eating with vengeance …
… not looking at each other, but continuing to eat …
… heaving a sigh …

“Why don’t you say anything? You always have an opinion” said she. I really didn’t know what to say. I had no opinion one way or the other. She continued by asking “Have you ever dated online?” … “No” I replied and explained the reason by saying “it’s difficult for women to know me in person, how could such motionless correspondence work for me? Besides, People use ‘I’ a lot and they pretend to be someone else, and …”. She didn’t like what I said and passionately challenged me by saying “Why don’t you try to write something honest about yourself that doesn’t include ‘I’ too much?”

… I took my friend’s challenge very seriously and tried to put something together if I ever had to introduce myself online. Here it is:

(( My name is Kamran, a man who bathes every day. I believe in princesses, quality women, and other fantasy creatures – but fortunately, you don’t have to kiss the frog to find me. My understanding is that women often seem to be like phones: they like to be held and talked to, but if you press the wrong button you’ll be disconnected. Willingness to share the remote, jumping on Oprah’s couch, and vacuuming the house are among my compromises. Giving gifts is an incomparable gesture for me, however electrical appliances, cooking utensils, or lanterns are not adequate gifts for a lover. There is indeed a mischievous inner child in me. While opening the door for you, my inner child might tempt me to trip you on the way in. Like a dream job, excellent benefits will be paid by me but you have to pay taxes. I support you like your bra, tirelessly and as long as necessary, and you better show up at my soccer games and watch me yelling at and with 22 adult men. Last not least, if we end up in a relationship, I’m willing to lie about how we met. ))


There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of our environment. We become aware of our environment at certain moments but we’re subconsciously liberated from it.

It was just another normal weekend. I had planned to go to a cabin to think about my next movie. In the last minute, Anna and her husband decided to join me. On the way to the cabin, I had this song in the back of my head that was endlessly repeating. Snake Eyes by The Milk Carton Kids. The repetition was so penetrating that I found myself disengaged at times. I was sailing through my own nagging thoughts.

We got to the cabin. The song was still stuck in my head. At some point during the night, Anna started sharing a personal story. I was still half engaged –until she tossed in a word that snatched my full attention. I immediately stopped her, grabbed my camera, zoomed in, and filmed her storytelling.

The short film you see below doesn’t portray what went on. What you see is merely an audiovisual depiction of the transition my mind went through –during the story. I was brought back to the environment by her story and I was curiously moved.

The word Tuyen entered my mind. I had never known anyone by that name.

The Chorus

The chap calls himself DB. I don’t know him. I have never met him, either. But I’ll never forget the moment I sat up and took notice of him. The moment that I knew I loved his music and that he was a different kind of musician. Granted, we both got out of the old country during our younger years and bounced around the globe to settle on the other side of the pond. DB’s music is multi-layered which is reflective of the depth and breadth of his interests and observations. The first time I listened to one of his pieces, it sounded like another house mix. And it was all in the middle of a crowded and pretentious lounge. But then, the mix went on to include one of the songs from Les Choristes soundtrack.

Les Choristes (The Chorus) is a low-budget movie about a dark, doom-filled school for troubled boys where hope is in short supply. A good-natured new teacher who’s a struggling musician, arrives. Only to find himself surrounded by juvenile thieves, chronic liars, unapologetic rebels, and lost souls. The teacher introduces these supposedly hard-core delinquents to something they’ve never experienced before: the joy of music. He then discovers there is far more to these children than anyone ever believed. The teacher helps recover their souls.

The construct of every piece of music covers rhythm where you can easily hear the downbeat, melody as the element for the notes, and the harmony: the vertical sound of music. But there is another captivating element that’s often neglected: The story.

You love the music you love, for the reasons pertinent to you. But you’ll love it even more when you know the story. The analysis of the construct of music will never trump feelings that it infers -because that’s not what music is about. The way a song moves us is ultimately what makes music lovers come back for more. It’s practically addictive. But the more you understand how the musician manipulates the fundamental elements of music, you get a peek behind the journey.

Blue Phone

Today, I broke up with the blue phone for good. The blue phone and I have had six full years of tumultuous relationship. During this time, she hung up on me during conversations with other women, sent iffy text messages to wrong people, and even refused to book appointments at restaurants of my choice. But those are not among the main reasons for not wanting to have the blue phone around.

It was back in 2008 when I started getting familiar with the blue phone. In fact, I participated in making it. The blue phone has been practical, folksy, and functional. One of the very rare inanimate objects I’ve come to like. The blue phone knows more about me and my personal life than anyone else. It knows too much. It holds information that I’m ready to put into the category of memories.

There is significance around objects and things that become meaningful to us because of the way we use them and the meaning that we assign to them. The objects that populate an individual’s internal world are personal, specific and idiosyncratic in their meaning. I am not speaking here of having many toys, but of having relationships that encourage exploration, curiosity and play. Relationships that facilitate the exploration of the world, the self, and the self in relation. Such relationships create an environment that makes it possible to symbolize, memorize, and sentimentalize. The role of possessions in constructing a sense of past (via nostalgic memories) is inevitable. These objects are the stimuli for a chain of vivid memories. Memories that lead to other memories in an interwoven net grown rich in associations, moods, and thoughts.

It’s been awhile I’ve been thinking about throwing away the blue phone. But its retirement was triggered mainly because it received the most burning message from Taffy last Sunday. The blue phone suddenly ignited the bluest feelings in me -so much so that I found myself in cold sweat. I will miss the blue phone, but contrary to the common-sense, sometimes the greatest journey might be the distance between two entities -specially when one of them is blue.

Blueberry Night

I get home and open my fridge only to find some blueberries. They don’t look particularly fresh. I take one in my fingers and roll it to examine its freshness. I notice that the blueberry has an oval shape. The room is dead silent. The kind of silence that feels like the most violent sound of all. I look out the window and see fogs rolling over the bay. The Bay Bridge is now half covered by the fogs and there is constant reflection of lights bouncing back from its vertical rails. While staring at the bridge, I place the blueberry in my mouth and use my tongue to push it up against the top of my mouth. The blueberry gets crushed. I taste its sweetness. I’ve never enjoyed the taste of blueberry so attentively.

This whole experience seems odd. When I contrast it with other things that could potentially occupy my mind, it surprisingly stands higher. I think I have been spending too much time surfing my imaginations lately. Dreams and imaginations are extensions of real life. Notions like future and love get intimately conceived in the hallways of dreams long before any reality glimmers. Soon after, expectations get set involuntarily as a reflection of those dreams. This life-like amusement becomes humorless when the expectations refuse to meet reality.

We’re consistently taught to dismiss the past and live with our hopes and imaginations. I’ve always had mixed feelings about that counsel. I believe the business of life is the acquisition of memories. Simple memories. I may never remember what I had imagined a decade ago, but oddly, I will always remember the blueberry night.

Quiet Days in Tenderloin *

As I write, the sun is falling. People at work are going to dinner. It’s been a pensive day filled with thoughts and doubts. I leave the building to walk home and air my thoughts. On the way out, I ran into an old friend who’s rushing away to nurse another conversation. Daniel Jr. kindly extends a warm “see you tomorrow” which portray his deep sense of humility.

It is the same type of day outside. The homeless is begging to those who are rushing home. Tourists take pictures of duck tours, and the cops cut tickets to people who’re blocking the sidewalk trying to buy a ticket to the show at the Moore theatre. These little observations murmur my sense of reflection.

I walk on the boulevard and pass by the immense number of shops and restaurants. I see no end of conversations around dinner tables. I think of friendships, romances, and separations that are formed around those tables. It all feels irrelevant to me as an individual, but it’s all relevant to my sense of curiosity. I can’t help but to think of the ongoing stories around me.

On quiet days in Tenderloin, I often find myself walking by the hotel where I had the first encounter with Taffy. I often look away because I have a deep desire to erase that memory, and the sense of regret attached to that scoop of life.

Tenderloin is lazy, indifferent, and somewhat rotten. It’s not glamorous as much as musing. On the days of wine and roses however, Tenderloin is glowing with a lurking flame which idealizes its sense of hope.

*Inspired by the opening chapter of Quiet Days in Clichy

Looking Backward to Get Somewhere

Life crests early for some people. That means life goes on, but a plateau that can never be reached again, will burden it. Former presidents, hyper successful business leaders, and famous athletes are among those who will always look back to figure out what their second act should be to measure up to the first act.

Imagine a parent who has centered her life around raising a child. A mother spends decades nurturing and worrying about her child’s physical and mental well-being. One day the child goes off to college or falls in love, and consequently, gets detached from the family unit. What happens to the mother’s life? Obviously, her life goes on with the hope that something meaningful becomes of her child’s life. In any case, the mother will be burdened by always looking back to see what she could have done better.

There are many examples like these if someone cares to look with an independent eye. This is not to say that looking backward is the inevitable fate. But if you do, the dilemma becomes: how to respond to it? Do we look back and regret? If we do, what about the popular culture that treats regret like a mistress? … if you have one, enjoy the pleasure but deny it.

I’ve decided to spend the entire next year reviewing and correcting some of my past approaches. I have no plan that’s supposed to help me with racking up pleasure points. I have no vanity project that’s supposed to result in an everlasting youth – despite the fact that people try it so relentlessly. Instead, I look backward to see if there is a new summit in the future.

I have been very fortunate with family, friendship, and career –but I should seriously look to see if there is a peak in more meaningful aspects of life. That’d be possible only when one can gaze upon by turning back. Themes such as intensity, persistence, and curiosity can lend necessary tools. But the past must weigh upon us, not because it must cancel the future, but because of its undeniable heft.