We accomplished so much today, yet we didn't get in our car once. I love that.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
We accomplished so much today, yet we didn't get in our car once. I love that.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Once high school hit, Amanda and I lost touch. We didn't all have cell phones, and email, and Facebook back then to keep ourselves infinitely attached to one another. I moved, and she moved, and there was just no way to track one another down.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
So it's been 6 days since I announced that I would be going Over the Edge for Gaudenzia in September, and I have seriously been blown out of the water by the amount of support I (and therefore Gaudenzia!) has received. I mean, I know I have some pretty kick ass family and friends but this really took it to a whole nother level...
$1,105.00 for Gaudenzia. $1,105.00 in six days. A-MAZ-ING!!!
ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You all helped me to not only SMASH my first goal (to raise the $500 needed to rappel) but also helped me OBLITERATE my second goal (to raise $1K) and it happened in less than a week. Truly amazing. I'm going to be saying, "thank you" for a long time to come.
Some you have asked about who in my family we lost to substance abuse. I'm sure I'll blog more about it in the future, but the inspiration for me is my Aunt Gabby who we lost in 1995. I can tell you firsthand that she did not come from a family who did not love her immensely and did not do everything in their power to support her and help her get well. Oftentimes there is a stigma that addicts must have come from horrible families...their parents must've been junkies who passed the habit on to them. They must've not had the proper upbringing or resources available to them to be successful in life. While this may be some people's stories, it is not the rule. Sometimes people suffering from addiction have the MOST loyal and supportive families. The scary part of addiction is that often addicts are so fueled by their addiction that they are will do anything--even if it means hurting the people that love them the most--to get what they think they "need."
I am about 99.9999% positive that my grandparents will be considered for canonization for sainthood. I mean, honestly, I know there is nothing they wouldn't do for anyone in their family, as I've often been the recipient of their good deeds. But I know that they did everything in their power to help their youngest daughter fight her battle with addiction for quite awhile. Unfortunately for Gabby she was dealt a crappy hand.
After Sadira was born, I asked my mom what in the world she did that instilled the FEAR OF GOD in me not to "experiment" with drugs as a teenager and young adult. Because whatever she did, I wanted to replicate it with Sadira! She answered that she tried to keep the dialogue open and honest, and to help get me involved in as many extra curricular activities as I showed interest in--to help me to learn positive ways to feel good about myself as a teenager, instead of destructive ones. But at the end of the day, she had to just hope I had gotten the message. I mean, OF COURSE, I had access, I grew up in Baltimore City for crying out loud, not to mention I always knew people who did drugs or sold drugs...but I just never caught on.
Maybe it was watching my grandmother bury her baby that did it.
Maybe it was thinking about my sweet grandfather having to go out early one rainy May morning to identify his daughter's body.
Maybe it's the thought that my mom, now an only child, has the full responsibility of caring for her parents as they grow older, without the benefit of her sibling to help.
Maybe it's the cousins I'll never have and the Aunt/Godmother that is only in my memories.
The bottom line, is you never know. You never know if you can be someone who can "experiment" and walk away...or if you're someone who gets hooked and slowly watches their life slip out of their control.
Scares the shit outta me, I'm not gonna lie.
Obviously I chose to take on this "Over the Edge" challenge to help cross something off my list---to conquer a fear. A big fear!! Climbing down the side of a building is something I NEVER thought I'd do voluntarily. But the affects of substance abuse for an addict's family scare me even more, and I never thought I'd be a part of a family that lost someone in such a way. No family should have to go through that. Even the crappy ones. No family should have to stand by and watch their loved one deteriorate. Every addict was someone's precious little baby at some point.
Unfortunately not all addicts have the benefit of health insurance or money on their side. Gaudenzia's Women and Children's Unit will directly benefit from our fundraising efforts. They do a better job describing themselves, so I'll just cut and paste:
"Gaudenzia has identified a need for safe and affordable permanent housing for mothers who successfully complete addiction treatment. The Women and Children’s Center is the solution to this need and will offer addiction treatment, permanent housing and daycare under one roof. This new facility promotes self-sufficiency and familial stability, encouraging home-ownership and long-term recovery for women, while also providing substance abuse prevention services for their children."
I know that the $1,105.00 that we've raised so far will help change someone's life, and help their family. It's amazing what we've been able to raise in just a short amount of time, and I have 55 more days to increase that number!! Every day (okay, maybe several times a day, I admit) I check my fundraising page to see if there have been more donations. I think my co-workers are slowly getting used to the shrieks of delight that come from my section of the office when I see the total going up. I'm continually amazed by the support I've received (both verbally and monetarily) to achieve this goal. It reminds me of the following quote that used to be painted on the wall at my college:
PS - The picture up top of Sadira and I was taken on Mother's Day this year. It seemed appropriate since we are raising funds to support other Moms and kids.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
There's been a great deal of progress in the Mirjafary household recently toward completing My 30 Before 30....a brief update, if you will...
Yes, you read right..."B is for boobies." Either my toddler is reading alphabet books written by frat boys, OR she's really understanding the sounds that letters make. And THAT is pretty amazing to me. :)
23. Do not use a credit card for an entire year.
Oh and as for: 1. Conquer a fear....
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Ever since I heard about this tour several years ago I wanted to do it and thought it would be fun, but worried that it would be too touristy. While in London years back I did the Jack the Ripper walking tour and loved it...so hearing some ghost tales in my own backyard sounded even more enticing--and it was. We had about 20 or so folks in our group, and about two-thirds were tourists. The rest claimed to be Baltimore residents. Tassie says it was about a 50/50 split or tourists to Baltimorons, but she didn't even identify herself either way, so we'll take my estimate over hers.
The tour started at 7pm and lasted about 3 hours. Our fearless leader, Cliff, (pictured above) started off explaining the difference between spirits and ghosts...spirits, he explained, are people who have passed on into "whatever comes next." They may come back to watch over us or guide us, but they are aware they are no longer of this earth and mean us no harm. Ghosts, on the other hand, are "stuck" between the physical world and the afterlife. In most cases, they were people who met their demise in a violent or tragic manner...they continue to repeat the same routine they did while alive because they are unable to pass on. They don't realize that they are no longer alive. They continue to go through their normal paces....and sometimes we
Cliff took us through 4 popular Fells Point pubs--the Whistling Oyster, Duda's, The Horse You Came in On, and the Wharf Rat. I've been to all of these pubs at some point or another in the past 8 years of my life, but never did I know of the fantastic tales that Cliff spun. Stories of haunted fireplaces, polka mysteriously playing on jukeboxes, wine glasses falling of their glass racks for no reason, knives flying out of a kitchen, and old pub owners (who were no longer alive) appearing to new barstaff and patrons. In some cases, the current pub owners and barstaff nodded along with Cliff, confirming his stories and adding their own experiences with the ghosts.
During each stop we had plenty of time to sit down, have a beer or a quick snack, and pick Cliff's brain. In addition to being the host with the most in the Fells Point Ghost Walking Tour, he is also a history professor at a local community college. He may even be a mall Santa during the holidays, I don't know for sure, but the man was pretty amazing and lots of fun.
My favorite story on the walk was actually about my favorite pub in Fells Point---the Horse You Came in On. I learned that it is, in fact, the oldest saloon in Baltimore, serving its guests since 1775. It's the only bar in Maryland to exist before, during and after prohibition (scandalous!) and it's the 7th oldest pub in the United States---though they claim to be the oldest continually operated pub in the U.S.
The best part? Edgar Allan Poe himself used to frequent this pub, and it is said that it was at this very pub that Poe staggered out and collapsed in the street before later dying at a nearby hospital. A sign inside the Horse (and on their website) boasts: "Our Most Famous Patron: Edgar Allan Poe, Jan 19, 1809 - Oct 7, 1849." Fan-freakin-tastic!
In between pubs Cliff would continue to showcase his vast knowledge of all things Fells Point. He walked us down Shakespeare street to show us the Fell Family Cemetery where founder William Fell is actually buried. I've walked past this street many times and never knew it was there! He also explained the history of Bethel Street, which was once the heart of the red-light district in Baltimore. After the use of red lights was banned in the city, the ladies found other ways to "advertise" their business and hung their petticoats on clotheslines between the narrow streets---yielding the nickname Petticoat Way.
It seems Baltimore's always been prone to nicknames...as our current "red light district" on Baltimore Street is referred to as "the Block."
We learned why Thames Street is pronounced "Tames" instead of the correct English pronunciation of "Tems." Apparently the aristocracy back in the day voted to pronounce it as "Tames" as their own little middle finger to the British.
For reasons I will not go into in this post, Tassie like this part best. :)
When the tour was over Cliff thanked us kindly and we all offered up tips and drinks for him. He certainly earned it, if for no other reason, for surviving a three hour walk in layers and layers of HOT black clothing (including gloves and walking stick!) in the sticky July Baltimore heat. Tassie and I grabbed some crab dip and hushpuppies (and more beers, of course) and then hung out in Fells Point for the rest of the evening. Overall a great time was had by all.
I definitely learned more about my little city with this 30 Before 30. I'll always be a hometown girl, but I tend to stay away from the "touristy" features my city has to offer. I learned how very fun it can be to be a tourist in your own city once in awhile. Go out and learn about where you live. You'll be glad you did.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
A few weeks ago I was home and saw a huge spider in my bathroom. Long, spindly legs, beady little eyes (okay, I'm being dramatic) but the thing was HUGE. And I am PETRIFIED of spiders. Legitimately petrified. I don't care that I'm larger than the spider, the thing terrifies me. I can't even take a paper towel and squish a spider, because that involves GETTING TOO CLOSE. Ew! Being the adult in the household over the past few year I've come up with several creative ways for killing spiders depending on their size, or location in my house. These methods include:
- Spraying it with a household cleaner and poisoning it to death (Formula 409 is my cleaner of choice---it's just toxic enough).
- Throwing something at it, to knock it down and then dropping a large, heavy book on it (Sorry Riverside Shakespeare :( ).
- Vacuuming it up with the Dyson (but make sure to empty the vacuum out asap---don't want to give the vermin a second chance to sneak out...)
- Cry and call a neighbor to help you (Thanks Rene...).
So when I saw this arachnoid invader, I immediately started going down the list of killing methods, to determine how I was going to get rid of this one...Luckily he was on my bathroom ceiling over the shower. One quick swipe with a fly swatter sent him into the tub, where I swiftly turned on the water and sent him to a watery death.
Death by drowning. Nasrene 1, Spider 0. :)
My heart was still racing from the adrenaline of killing him and I instantly thought--yes! I just conquered a fear!! I killed a spider without crying! I did it! :)
But then I realized that crossing off #1 from my list just 'cause I killed a spider was kind of lame. I mean, that's not really anything to be proud of. I know there are people who can kill spiders without even blinking, and they would think I was totally lame for actually being PROUD of myself....
So I gots to thinking. I got to thinking about my fears. Yes, I'm scared of spiders, but I'm also scared of throwing up. I'm scared of something horrible happening to any of my family members. I'm scared of drowning. But these are not fears I really want to conquer---there's not really a way to conquer them, I just accept the fear, hope it never happens, and move on.
So I thought some more.
I'm scared of heights.
To clarify I'm not scared of heights in that I cannot go to the top of tall buildings, or I won't go in airplanes, or roller coasters...I'm scared of heights if there is a threat of falling...if there is a chance I could fall to my death. I've been to the top of many a tall building, heck I've been to the top of the Eiffel Tower on three separate occasions, and yes, while it was intimidating, I wasn't SCARED. Because I knew I wasn't going anywhere. I was safe. I wasn't going to fall off.
I will never be brave enough to go skydiving. I wish I could, but I know myself well enough to know it would never happen. I'd have a heart attack and die before I got to the ground. Even watching videos of others sky diving makes my heart race and my palms sweaty. I just have a natural SURVIVAL instinct that is so strong it prohibits me from seeing the adventure/fun side of skydiving and constantly tells me that hurling oneself out of a plane at several thousand feet up is NOT A GOOD IDEA.
Can't do it.
Bungee jumping? Ehhh..the biologist in me just thinks about the anatomy and physiology side of it. It's not so much the fear of falling (which I still have fear of), but the thought of the recoil as the bungee hurls you back up to the sky that turns me off. That can't be good for the spinal column, right?
So I started thinking about an event my friend is organizing. She launched this event last year and was extremely successful. I got to be a spectator during the planning stages and media events, and I know how hard she worked. I also know that it's for a very very very good cause, and a great organization. This event, however, involves rappelling 23 stories down the side of building in Baltimore. Sounds like a ball of fun, huh? Yikes.
This is it: http://overtheedge.dojiggy.com/
I talked to Rene about this event and she said the scariest part, isn't necessarily the heights (totally scary), it's the fact that you have to give up control and lean back and trust the ropes to hold you (oh fantastic, that sounds so much better). She didn't even mention the part where you have CLIMB OVER THE SIDE OF THE BUILDING AND WALK DOWN IT.
But nevertheless, it seems appropriate. Participating in this event will cross #1 off my list, will help raise money for a worthy organization and give everyone a good laugh as I cry like a baby and cling to the side of Silo Point.
My tummy hurts just thinking about it...
Thursday, July 1, 2010
A few excerpts from a letter to my sister, Neda.