30 September, 2009

Re: Absurd Politics

September 30, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am writing to share with you the growing alarm and outrage among Armenian Americans over the heavy pressure that you, officials of the Department of State,and others in the Obama-Biden Administration are applying to Armenia to accept the Turkey-Armenia Protocols.

These one-sided agreements, which are being imposed upon a landlocked Republic of Armenia that remains blockaded by Turkey and that is still working to overcome the devastating demographic, economic and geopolitical legacy of the Armenian Genocide, would, if adopted, call into question the reality of the Armenian Genocide, threaten Armenia’s security, jeopardize the freedom of Nagorno Karabagh, and compromise the inalienable rights of all Armenians.

As you can imagine, in light of your powerful track record as a U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate in support of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, we are particularly troubled by the role that you have played in pressuring Armenia to accept these Protocols. Rather than keeping faith with your principled stands on this human rights issue, you have, since taking office, aggressively pressured Armenia into a process that effectively provides President Obama with a rationale morally flawed, but nonetheless politically effective – for failing to honor his clearly stated pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

The starkest evidence of the intense pressure applied on Armenia is that the initial Turkey-Armenia “Roadmap” was announced late on the evening of April 22nd, only hours before the President’s first April 24th remarks, following a marathon 14-hour session in Yerevan between the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandyan, and Matt Bryza, at the time a Deputy Assistant Secretary. This meeting, and all the intense pressure on Armenia in the days leading up to the President’s reversal on his Armenian Genocide pledge, was plainly intended to serve Turkey’s interest in blocking U.S.recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

This coercion has continued through to thisday, with headlines in the New York Times and elsewhere reporting your personal“prodding” and “pushing” of the Armenian government to accept the Protocols in the face of broad-based opposition both in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.

As you may know, over 10,000 Armenian Americans gathered in Los Angeles over the weekend to protest the one-sided Protocols and to demand full U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. These American citizens and over one and a half million Armenian Americans, rightful stakeholders in our nation’s policies on Armenian issues, have been excluded from any meaningful role in the shaping of our nation’s active diplomacy on the Protocols.

When we have formally protested this exclusion to senior officials of the State Department, we have been advised to address our concerns to the Armenian government. This dismissal represents a patent insult to every American of Armenian heritage. We deserve transparency and honesty from our government, a policy-making process that fairly embraces all American stakeholders, and the opportunity to offer our input in a respectful and meaningful manner.

In light of these concerns, I call upon you to lift the pressure being applied to Armenia to accept the Protocols and ask you, once again, to agree to accept our outstanding request to meet to discuss these and other urgent matters of concern to the Armenian American community.

Kenneth V. Hachikian
Armenian National Committee of America

22 September, 2009

A Gift That Keeps Giving

Tonight, I received the best gift possible, the encouragement to chase after my dreams....a letter from my little sister, written in the first pages of the beautiful hand-crafted journal she gave me.

To my older sister, Anait:

Way back when, when Wisconsin Dells was a big deal and making lists of what we needed to bring seven weeks in advance was a must, you were always the one who would collect the brochures, stamps and postcards from everywhere we went. I made fun of you for never being able to get rid of anything, and was so annoyed when you blasted the French music from your room. Truth is, even many years ago, your passion for foreign language and the world was evident. You knew everything—from the lyrics to the fastest and most complicated French rap songs to how to book a hotel in Vienna.

Walking into your apartment now, you’d have to be an idiot not to see all the Paris and Italy pictures posted everywhere…your room, the kitchen, the bathroom…everything from the way you decorate your room to your clothing style is unique and gives off a “whoa! Is that girl from Paris?!” kinda vibe.

Throughout these next several years, I am sure that you’ll be touring the world, visiting the most interesting places, meeting new people…including that perfect Portuguese Prince …taking billions of pictures, and having the time of your life. As you travel, I hope you’ll take this journal along and use it for anything you feel like jotting down. Put postcards in it, pictures, letters, phone numbers of cute boys, memories, feelings, drawings, anything. Write down your hopes, your dreams, all that you keep bottled inside.

I look up to you in so many ways and you’ve taught me more than you will ever know. You are intelligent, beautiful, caring, honest, trustworthy, talented and kind. I am so incredibly proud of you and hope you know that I believe in you and in all that you aspire to be. I am always here for you. Happy 23rd birthday.

Your Little Sister

Another year...

Today, I turn 23 years old. And although I am by no means old, I feel older. A year ago, thinking of high school or of college, I would have said: It feels just like yesterday. Today, I think about those days and they seem further away...I look at older photographs with nostalgia and no longer feel completely one with the girl in the photographs. I've changed and, although I cannot pinpoint the exact moment it happened, I've entered a new chapter of my life.

Change is the only constant in life and this past year has been full of it. From a new apartment, to new travels and new friends, my life is richer, more profound than it was a year ago.Every year, my birthday passes and it seems like the next one is so far away. The next thing I know, fall is in the air and I am another year older.

Sometimes, I miss the days when boys had cooties, when dreams were limitless, decisions came easily, right was right and wrong was wrong and fights on the playground were the biggest source of moral turmoil in life. Nights when a night light was enough to quench all fears and heartbreak was accidentaly dropping a perfectly good ice cream cone on the sidewalk. Years when friendships were steadfast and parents had the magical ability to right all wrongs.

Over time, my heart has been broken, and I have broken hearts. I've faught with my best friend, lost loved ones and cried because time passes too quickly. No nightlight can mask my insecurities about the future, and I have learned to make decisons without relying on my parents.

Life is short so I will take pictures, document my thoughts and chase my dreams so that when another year flies by, I will flip through my journals, look at photographs and marvel at how much I have changed...again.

16 September, 2009

Love, by Pablo Neruda

What's wrong with you, with us,
what's happening to us?
Ah our love is a harsh cord
that binds us wounding us
and if we want
to leave our wound,
to separate,
it makes a new knot for us and condemns us
to drain our blood and burn together.

What's wrong with you? I look at you
and I find nothing in you but two eyes
like all eyes, a mouth
lost among a thousand mouths that I have kissed, more beautiful,
a body just like those that have slipped
beneath my body without leaving any memory.

And how empty you went through the world
like a wheat-colored jar
without air, without sound, without substance!
I vainly sought in you
depth for my arms
that dig, without cease, beneath the earth:
beneath your skin, beneath your eyes,
beneath your double breast scarcely
a current of crystalline order
that does not know why it flows singing.
Why, why, why,
my love, why?

For more Neruda poems, check out her posts :)

13 September, 2009

The Power of Words

A few years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I had a fling with a German from one of my French classes (go figure). He was tall, lanky, a lost soul, like me. I walked in to class the first day, saw him sitting there, and knew we had a connection. Curly blond hair, ripped jeans, a leather jacket, scribbling something in a worn leather journal. He was eight years older than me, a graduate student. A poet. Brian.

Thanks to my own journal keeping, I will forever remember the lovely notes he wrote me.

The world is a better place because of you. You are an intricate part of the plan, whatever it is. I love you for it.

Your eyes perplex me, capture me...and then your heart. Sleep well cherie, you who have led me to folly with just a bat of your eyelashes. My love, my sadness.

Our affair was contained to campus. Covert kisses between library book stacks, and many, many afternoons spent sitting beneath a tree talking about life, philosophy and love. He was smitten with me and I, I was smitten with his notes, his soul. Never before had I been sent love letters, or so pursued by a man, not a boy. He perplexed me, intrigued me. I would lie awake after receiving a text from him in the middle of the night, fascinated that this man would find me attractive, that I captured his thoughts at all hours.

I was never able to truly figure him out. To this day, he remains a puzzle to me. He graduated, sent me a text saying that he would always think of me, and disappeared. I have not heard from him since. But every once in a while, I will open the pages of an old journal, read his words long erased from my phone but forever etched in the creased pages and marvel at the impact that the people we meet have on our lives.

I wonder if I too, cover the pages of his journal.

07 September, 2009

Plus Je Pense A Toi

Pour les jours silencieux, j'écoute tomber la pluie,
Et les matins frileux qui me font regretter nos nuits.
Pour toutes ces différences qui créent l'indifférence, depuis,
Pour les heures passées à regarder tourner l'ennui.
Plus je pense à toi et plus encore je m'aperçois
Que le temps qui passe ne me guérira pas.
Rien ne te remplace, je manque de toi, je meurs de toi,
Et je m'aperçois que tu manques à l'espace.

We walk along the Seine, silent. My heels click softly on the cobblestones. The night sky envelops the city in darkness and a warm summer breeze swirls around us. I intertwine my fingers with yours and squeeze. Your hand remains limp. What has changed this past year? I steal a glance at your face, searching for an answer. You stare straight ahead, expressionless.

We say nothing, what is there to say? I am thinking everything, and nothing. In my heart, I know it is over. Whatever it was. Unspoken words haunt me, stifling the air around me until my heart races and the sky spins.

To me, you are Paris. You took me on my first walk along the Seine and bought me a cheap Agatha Christie novel, we browsed ancient works of art in the Louvre, braved the Catacombs and snuck into private gardens late at night like forbidden lovers. We drank cafe au lait as we watched the sunrise, loudly sang Italian songs as we walked through St. Michel, wine coursing through our veins.

I met your parents, your family, your friends. We talked about marriage, about how we would raise our children, where we would live, where we would work. You were my future.

Yet, tonight, as we walk hand in hand, a seemingly ordinary Parisian couple, everything evaporates and I feel devastated. I don't know how to build a future that does not include you. Tears drop down my face, but you do not notice. I quickly wipe them away, determined to make the most of our last days together, even if I know they are a farce.

We pass a group of men sitting on the bank, their cigarettes blowing dreamy white ribbons of smoke into the air. I sigh deeply and take in the smell of Paris, determined to preserve the evening.

We are about to walk up the stairs when a voice calls out to us in French. Hey, wait! We turn around, expecting a drunk. It is one of the men we passed earlier. Mademoiselle, you are stunning. And monsieur, so handsome. I can tell, you two are meant for each other. He turns around to his friends for confirmation. They nod their hands in agreement, and give us a round of applause. A perfect couple!, he says. The men behind him start shouting, kiss! kiss! kiss! kiss!

I turn to you, take your face into my hands, and kiss you. I feel nothing. As our eyes meet, I can see that you sense the irony as well.

A perfect couple, indeed.

03 September, 2009

2:00 A.M. ( Still. Reading. Stupid. Book)

2 a.m. and she calls me cause i'm still awake,
can you help me unravel my latest mistake
i don't love him, winter just wasn't my season
yeah we walk through the doors so accusing their eyes,
like they have any right at all to criticize
hypocrites, you're all here for the very same reason

cause you can't jump the tracks,
we're like cars on a cable
and life's like an hourglass glued to the table
no one can find the rewind button girl,
so cradle your head in your handsand
breathe, just breathe

12:00 A.M.

Son las doce y el dolor me tira a matar, la luna no se quiere asomar.

Voy a ciegas sin tu amor, no se acomodar mi corazon en otro lugar.

Hoy sin ti mi alma va, mal herida, perdida.

02 September, 2009

Way No. 5,476 By Which UIC Makes My Life A Living Hell

The graduate department never bothered to grant me full approval for a class that I am enrolled in, despite numerous e-mail and phone calls on my part. This resulted in my not receiving a class e-mail from my professor which was sent on Saturday. Instead, I received said e-mail today only because I e-mailed my professor a random question and he forwarded class correspondence to me.

Said e-mail said:

Dear Students,

Your syllabus states that there is no class this Thursday. However, I have cancelled my attendance at a conference and, therefore, class will be in session.

What this e-mail translates to, for me is:

You will have to read the 150 page book by tomorrow and be prepared to answer questions about it.

What this translates to is:

Tylenol. Coffee. Falling asleep in front of the computer.

Did I mention I still have a good two hours of my day-job work to do?
So much to look forward to.