I love mankind; it's people I can't stand.

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Feeling: Calm. Loving my life.
Eating: Um... life?
Drinking:Dasani water
Wearing: Jeans, black tank top with built in bra, lavender panties, eith a little sleeping kitty on them, my claddagh, green choker and matching earrings, contacts, vestiges of the day's make-up, black belt.

Listening to:
*Hummmmrumblerumblerumble* It's my washing machione making contented noises.
Chatting with:
Keeping my own counsel.
Thinking: "I need to concentrate on my posture more."
Remembering: Dave's tongue ring.
Glad for: My ability to move past fear into growth.

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Today is: 2003-04-20 - @ 5:13 p.m.
Daniel Mehdi Zamani: The Man, The Story.

all time - is relative
Just recently I said how impossible it would be to ever completely capture all of what someone is, even with the aid of a religiously kept journal and years of friendship with the person, and yet, here I am, attempting to do what I deemed impossible. Not more than two nights ago I received a thoughtful, compassionate instant message from a dear, dear friend of mine, Daniel Mehdi Zamani: “You fuck. Write a fucking entry about me. Right fucking now.” His notes, full of subtle imagery and complex metaphors, always leave me in awe of his intellect. So, per his instructions, I did my best to capture the deep and multi-layered man that he is: “This is Daniel...He is a freak...I am scared of him...” Alas, despite my quite apparent hard work and dedication to my project, it did not adequately fulfill Daniel’s inspired image of the work, as he detailed to me in this correspondence: “You failed. Miserably. You used horrible pictures of me. YOU WILL DO IT OVER! NOW!” So, here I am.

Really though, I feel rather lucky to know Daniel. I met him a few years ago at a youth group retreat, where the main purpose was work. I was there as a completely novice, yet simultaneously the only leader of my small chapter of 4 people, and Daniel was the assured, well known, attractive leader of the whole region, numbering several hundred. I barely knew anyone from my few previous retreats, and considering Daniel exuded this friendly, intelligent, very busy air about him, I noticed him. I highly doubts he remembers anything more about me that weekend other then a vague recollection of my face, but I remembered him. Daniel is not a person you forget very easily. Now, I was at the time 14, and still lacking in the maturity to full appreciate or understand Daniel. I probably still am. The next time I really saw him was at the next retreat, where he was stepping down from his post as leader. As a tradition, retiring leaders give a ‘farewell speech,’ which is normally them speaking about how their year went, what they learned, etc. Once again, Daniel broke the norm, and doubtlessly succeeded in reaching to every person in that room. I still remember how he looked up there. Below is roughly what he said there, which was printed in Guidepost magazine.

“The stagnant desert air felt like a warm blanket wrapped around me. It was probably two in the morning and the soft moonlight illuminated the rustic empty streets. In the distance, I saw mountains that jutted up into the sky like stalwart warriors standing guard over the city. But the setting’s magnificence faded in the glare of a streetlight reflecting off the gun the man was pointing at me.

It was the summer of 1999 and I was visiting my father’s family in Tehran, the capital of Iran. A member of the Basiji, the official morality police, had stopped my taxi. The Basiji were out patrolling the streets because anger over the government’s shutdown of several liberal newspapers had caused widespread rioting throughout the city. The riots had lasted three days, with no sign of stopping. I had heard that many people had been severely injured, but somehow I still felt as detached from the unrest occurring all around me as if I had seen it on CNN.

I had been at my grandparents’ house that night reading when I received a call from my cousin, who wanted me to come over so that he could show me a new computer game. I normally would not have made the trip that late, but I was so bored I was looking for any excuse to go out. I left a note for my grandparents and called a taxi to take me to my uncle’s house in northern Tehran. I was aware of the dangers of traveling at night and the potential of getting stopped by the Basiji, yet my fear was outweighed by excitement at making the late-night journey.

But fear took over when my taxi was stopped. I studied the person who had ordered me out of the car. He was only a few inches taller than me, but he seemed to loom over me. His bronzed face was covered with dark rudiments of facial hair matching the tousled mass on his head. His black eyes stared at me.

“Show me your wallet!” he barked. I fumbled for my wallet, eager to prove to him that I meant no trouble. I watched nervously as he rifled through it, searching through all of its miscellaneous teenage paraphernalia.

Suddenly, he thrust a small card in front of my face. “What is this?” he demanded. I told him that it was an American library card.

His hand snapped to his gun as he asked why I had such a thing. I replied, “I use it to check out books in California.” Apparently, neither the American clothes I was wearing nor my American accent had tipped him off. I wondered what a Basiji member would do to someone who came from the country that they called “The Land of the Great Satan.”

It seemed the boy that stood in front of me was not sure what he should do either. He turned slightly, almost imperceptibly; now the barrel of the gun was aimed directly at my chest. Any move, and I felt certain I would feel a volley of bullets tear through my body. We stood, staring uneasily at each other. I prayed silently, making my peace with those I wanted to forgive and with those I wished would forgive me. Yet I vowed not to give up without a fight. I tensed my body, readying myself to jump him. He tightened his grip on the gun and pointed it more decisively at me, looking as if he would fire at any moment. However, as I studied my enemy with his threadbare clothing, the rip in his sandals exposing his dirty feet, the thing I saw most clearly was the frightened look in his eyes. It was obvious that he was just as scared as I was.

Suddenly, an older Basiji member came hurrying over to see what was going on. He began barking questions at me, angrily at first, but when I explained why I was out so late at night, he looked back and forth between the other boy and me, then threw his head back and laughed. We both jumped, startled, which made the man laugh even louder. He said, “Look at the two of you, scared to death of your own shadows! Go home, both of you.”

The other boy and I looked at each other again. Then my former interrogator dropped the gun to his side and began to walk away. On impulse, I stopped him and stuck out my hand. He gaped at it, then looked back at my face. I held his gaze and he slowly reached out and grasped my hand. “Khodahafez,” I said. “May God protect you.” He shook my hand and repeated the word slowly. “Khodahafez.”

I got back into the taxi, dazed at how surreal it all had seemed. I couldn’t help but think of how close I had come to being killed, and more frightening, how ready I had been to kill another. Yet as my tension slowly eased, I realized how little it had taken for me to see my enemy as a person. Despite the fact that we came from drastically different backgrounds and would probably live drastically different lives, we were both nothing more than frightened children that night. All we needed was a reminder of what made us the same.

In today’s world, I feel that all we need is that little reminder, a little bit of understanding to humanize that which is unfamiliar to us. That is why I will take the time to sit with a homeless person on the streets of San Francisco and talk about our mutual love for the guitar. That is why I will play tag for hours with my friends’ younger siblings. That is why I will sit by the bed of my sick grandfather and listen to him tell me his stories. That is why I have faith in the human race.” Touching, no?

I don’t know a lot about Daniel, but I know he hates ignorance. The only thing he hates more than ignorance is people who refuse to acknowledge, and remedy, their ignorance. It is the only time I have heard him getting truly angry. Oh, that and when I said I was going to come visit him. Maybe he thinks he would be a bad influence on me.

I wonder why?

He is one of few people I could probably talk to for hours. Even if he is being a stubborn dumbass, which he can be and quite often is, he’s still funny. He’s also a freak, as agreed by his friend, known only as Riotgirl84. Actually, she said I was just as freaky as he was for asking her random questions. Most other’s declined to comment, but one, Bryan, did say, “Dunno,” when asked how he would sum of Daniel in a statement. Profound.

I rarely talk to him on the phone or in person, but when I do, it’s a nice reminder of the sound of his voice, which is pleasant to listen to. He’s also an accomplished actor:

As well as an animal lover:

The ladies seem to gravitate towards him as well, understandably:

Even when he does look a bit scruffy:

Anyway, I’m done being a kiss-ass. Goodnight

Quote for the Entry: “A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.” ~Mae West

He is neither short nor dumpy, but he has a shit load of fire.

all time - is relative

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