Who is James Bruce, you ask. I always meet interesting people on the lecture circuit and one of them is a high school English teacher named James Bruce. I met him when I spoke at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I actually met him the night before my talk when he told me that he couldn’t come to my talk because he had to find a substitute first. I bribed him. That’s right. I told him that if comes to my talk, I would supply his classroom with copies of FUNNY IN FARSI. (Hey, how do you think I fill up those lectures?!?) He came, and yes, he got the books.
James is one of those teachers who tries to ignite the love of literature in his students. He is really, really dedicated and who doesn’t love a dedicated teacher?
He just won the California Arts Council’s first ever Hero Award. How cool is that?
Here is the article:
To all the dedicated teachers out there…you all deserve an award. At least James has his now.
I just returned from three wonderful days in Boise, Idaho. I was invited by The Cabin, a non-profit that provides all sorts of interesting programs having to do with reading and writing for the young and old, and in between. Here’s their website: http://www.thecabinidaho.org/
The Cabin invited me as part of their speaker series, a popular program that brings four writers to Boise every year for a talk at the Egyptian Theatre. This fabulous theatre opened in 1927 and was almost demolished in the 70’s. Fortunately, it was saved and restored to its current glorious state. Words can not do it justice. If you are ever near Boise, it’s worth a visit. Yes, it’s kitschy but it is also grand and breath taking. I don’t know about its accuracy in portraying ancient Egypt; after all, I do not recall seeing so many busty, topless women in my Ancient Egypt history books but they are there, in full glory, in Boise.
I also visited Marian Pritchett School, a high school for teenaged mothers. I loved the young women I met there and yes, there is a nursery for the babies right on campus. I love America! Where else can young mothers have a chance to obtain a high school diploma after becoming pregnant at such a young age? Teen pregnancy happens everywhere. I’m just a fan of this solution. You can never go wrong with providing education possibilities for all. I’m rooting for every one of those young women!
I also had THE best breakfast. Visit Goldy’s if you ever find yourself in Boise. It’s packed but worth the wait.
I just deactivated my Facebook account for the next few months so I can have more time to think and to write. Facebook swallows more and more of my time and I feel so relieved to be off of it for a while! Part of the problem is that I’m one of those people who feels the need to answer all emails. A lot of my fellow writers tell me that they don’t answer emails, that no one really expects an answer when they email an author. I wish I believed it but I can tell you that every time I send an email or letter, I expect an answer! So this is why I answer all correspondence. Plus, I imagine the person who sent the email just waiting and waiting and waiting for a reply. This is more a reflection of how I am when I send correspondence but hey, I can’t seem to change.
I am still working on my tween novel. I just spoke with my editor today and she shared some of her thoughts on my latest draft. We seem to be on the same wave length so it’s a good thing. Collaboration with a good editor is a wonderful, wonderful gift. My editor was also Beverly Cleary’s editor so I am honored that I now have something in common with one of my favorite childhood writers.
I have to go write now so until my next entry, I wish you all happy reading! And don’t spend too much time on social media. Trust me, it’s a time vacuum!
I just got back from Chicago where I had the pleasure of being a panelist on National Public Radio’s popular weekend show, Wait, Wait….Don’t Tell Me. I’ve listened to that show for years and have always wanted to be on it so this was very, very exciting for me. Peter Sagal, the host, is quite brilliant. Yes, he has a script but he is equally funny and quick without it too. Carl Kasell is probably one of the most endearing people I have ever met. I was joined on the panel with the very talented Paula Poundstone and Luke Burbank. The celebrity call-in guest was…I won’t spoil it for you. Here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/programs/wait-wait-dont-tell-me/
I’m moving to Germany next year due to my husband’s job. How much German do I know? Let’s see…zaftig, linzertorte and danke. (The first two are related.)
I never thought I would be an immigrant AGAIN. God must have a sense of humor. Forty years after moving to a new country, learning the language and finding my place, I am will be starting all over again. I love how everyone keeps telling me, “German is REALLY difficult.” Thanks, or should I say, danke.
In the meantime, I have been working on my tween novel. Yes, it’s been three years. Tween fiction is not easy! I used to think of tweens as just short adults but as my editor points out, no, being 11-14 years old is a special stage in life. I hope the book resonates with that age group. We’ll see.
I am still active on the lecture city and loving every minute of it, except for the actual traveling. I hope to continue on the circuit after I move to Germany too.
Thanks for stopping by this website. I am absolutely terrible at keeping up with social media (except for Facebook.) Do people who tweet regularly also have to cook dinner? Where do people find the time to constantly report on their lives? This reminds me, I gotta go fold the laundry.
Be well and keep reading!
I just returned from a week in Aspen with a fantastic group, most of them writers, all of them people who believe in at least trying to make this world a little better, a little kinder. I know it sounds cliche but where would we be without people who at least try? We discussed many topics but we were gathered there mainly to focus on Story Swap. Story Swap is one of those really simple ideas that is both life changing and yet so, so basic. Here is the website if you want to learn more:
We did a story swap within our group and the dynamics changed completely. Sure, we all liked each other before the exercise but afterwards, all we could see was each other’s humanity. I was paired with Tobias Wolff and I told him a five-minute story about my life that exemplified who I am, and then he told me a story. Then, in front of everyone, I told Tobias’ story and he told mine. Let’s just say that the minute Tobias starting telling my story, I started to cry. Yes, we all have a story and hearing it from someone else’s mouth is an entirely different experience. Telling someone else’s story is an act of trust and love. I just wanted to do right by Tobias and tell his story as it deserved to be told. It’s tougher than it sounds.
PS As I write this, Colorado is burning. Here’s to all the firefighters whose heroism is beyond the call of duty. May the fires end soon and may the rains come down on that very lovely and very, very dry state.
I love documentaries. Every once in a while, I see one that I like so much, that I feel the urge to shout its name from the rooftops, or at least mention it on my website, which is probably more effective, not to mention nicer for my neighbors.
Sometime this week, set aside 84 minutes to watch Na yek Tavahom (Not an Illusion). This is an Iranian documentary about the music scene in Iran. It features the INCREDIBLY talented Sara Naeini. Like all good documentaries, this is a multi-layered movie that is about much more than just music. To my American educator friends: show this movie in your classroom, then talk about freedom. Discussions will go where they have never gone before. The movie is FREE on the internet: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/5323/Na-yek-Tavahom–Not-an-Illusion
Join my Facebook page and let me know what you think!
Lately, I’ve noticed that movies often feature a character who is a writer. I understand that there is a certain air of mystery and romance around those moody, broody types who pursue such an impractical career. I don’t know about the mystery or romance but I do know that I like to tell stories and I love having a job that allows me to work in my pajamas.
Every once in a while though, something happens that makes me think, “It is so cool to be a writer!” And here’s one of those things. In June, I will be spending one week in Aspen, Colorado at a conference entitled, “Storytelling, Culture and the Future of Democracy.” There will be 20 of us and we will be discussing the reading material that we received a month earlier…thought provoking pieces from Plato to Saul Bellow. And if being with 20 interesting people discussing ideas is not exciting enough, there will also be social activities designed around the natural beauty of Aspen…fly fishing, hiking, and biking (they have promised me it’s ALL downhill).
Given the solitary nature of writing, I can’t tell you how excited I am to spend a week with my peers!
I just returned from Texas A & M where I received a big Texas welcome. I had an opportunity to first meet with some members of the Persian Student Association. There are several hundred Iranians in the graduate programs alone. When my father was there in 1952/53, he was the ONLY Iranian! Times have changed indeed.
That evening I spoke for about 700 members of the graduate community. It was a fantastic event full of questions and comments. I like to think that the conversations that started that evening will continue for a long time.
I also had a chance to visit Bizzell Hall, which had been my father’s dorm back in 1952. It is now home to many offices, including the International Students Office. As I walked up the steps, I could not help but think that 60 years ago, my father walked up the same, exact steps. Did he ever think that someday, his daughter would be on campus, giving a lecture?
Thank you Aggies!
Throughout my childhood, my father told me stories about his year at Texas A & M as a Fulbright student. Those stories were the most exciting stories I had ever heard, and so exotic too! The kind people, the food, the language that he claimed he spoke so well…these all made Texas A & M a mythic place, a place of legend that had shaped my father into the person that I knew.
On April 23, I will be giving a lecture at Texas A & M. Needless to say, I am thrilled. But you know who is even more thrilled than I am? My father. He’s been telling his stories to me all over again. And soon, I will be at his alma mater, telling my stories. Life comes full circle sometimes.