Wednesday, May 12, 2010

After New York City... a deep slumber

I'd planned for months to go to NYC, planned every detail, everything I wanted to accomplish, which I did, but regrettably I neglected to make any plans for coming home. Once back, I fell into a deep sleep from which I've had trouble waking. 

Everything in Los Angeles is overwhelmingly bright, all white, dazzling light. I'm hypnotized by the white light.

 white everywhere

I feel like Snow White after taking a bite of the apple (get it, the apple?). The white houses here remind me of Greece, a country I've never been to but wish to visit, although I keep flashing on the recent rioting in the streets. What anarchy! What burning images!

This image of rioting in Greece looks like a scene out of Wagner's opera "The Ring."

Disoriented: feeling lost or confused, especially with regard to direction or position.  

It must be my job. Before NYC I had no problem teaching all week, but now I'm dragging myself to work. How much longer can I teach English to immigrants at night, when they seem not to be learning a thing?

Ehsanolah M., one of my longest running students, is a modern day Job, experiencing one failure after another, yet he keeps on trying. He's a religious man so he'd never believe that the gods are against him, but God keeps tripping him up: Ehsan sets his alarm for 4:30 a.m., but this morning, he tells me, he fell back to sleep and woke too late to get to Shul for morning prayers. He rushes there nonetheless, but misses the last prayer. 

He then trudges back home and finds his car is leaking oil. "The car is no good" he says. He's been saying that for a very long time. He takes it in to get serviced, but by the time he gets home the car's empty of oil again. By 9 a.m. he packs a big black garbage bag full of cheap clothing to sell and takes the bus downtown to L.A.'s garment district, walking for hours up and down Santee Alley, Olympic Blvd, Twelfth Street, Wall and Pico, but no one is buying. He walks and walks for "little benefit," and with his feet hurting, and makes not a farthing. He comes to class exhausted and sits with his head in his hands staring at the page, not knowing how to answer the simplest question. He's been out of work ever since I began teaching, almost two years now—with no money, no prospects, no way to support his family. English is the last thing on his mind.

Ehsanolah M. and his teacher

New York was so thrilling, I could have stayed forever, going to museums, having lunch with friends, writing with my friend M in her beautiful apartment, but this is real life, not as thrilling when you get right down to it.


  1. Whew. I've been hungering for a post from the Rat's Nest. Your student's situation is heart-breaking. Where is he from?

    NYC misses you.

  2. hello owtd.....miss you too. good to have my loyal following back!

    Ehsan is from Isfahan (or Esfahan) Iran. I've written about him before, and will link that to previous post. thanks for asking. xoC

  3. My blind poet friend Majid Naficy is from Isfahan, which is a magical city. Get him to tell you about it. There is a bridge over the Zayandeh River that has 33 arches. It is a city of poets. His situation is truly heart-wrenching.

    and I love how you evoke that blinding white light. I can't take it! Turn it off!