top of page

Context



It's been a week of many journeys, starting with the kind of mistake I've made so many times when trying to get something off quickly. Setting up a board hiring committee interview, I forgot to include a form that assesses the candidate they were to talk to, only remembering the next morning which is really too late. So they had to make up their own. These kinds of repeated mistakes make my stomach hurt and give me a feeling of powerlessness, they sit with me for days. How could I have done that? Again?? No matter how much I am committed to doing better, it is so far unsustainable. Lest you have changed your mind about hiring me for an executive search, I am good at creating a job scopes and unbelievable at unearthing unlikely candidates, creating interview scripts, selling candidates on an opportunity, and closing the deal, it's just these little details that trip me up.


Tamales are such a good winter comfort food


I had received an email from a Mexican woman named Bessie who owns a restaurant serving delicious tamales, among other things. She and I had been recently introduced because her "startup" Friends Who Dine, dovetails in an interesting way with my 24dinner. When I expressed interest in joining her at her next dinner out, she sent an email newsletter that I forwarded to Nat, who brought to my attention some small print about an Iranian Film Festival taking place at the MFA. Having committed to staying put in cold, grey Boston for a few months, aI was craving more colorful sights and signed up for tickets immediately.


It drives me crazy when the first adjective my aunt uses to describe a woman is "beautiful". That said, my impression after watching two Iranian movies is that all Iranian women are shockingly beautiful . Or maybe just the ones in the movies.


Terrestrial Verses was 8 vignettes. If you might see the movie, skip this paragraph. A man is at the birth registry getting a certificate for his newly born son. After proving payment and birth, he was asked by the man behind the counter what the baby's name would be to which he replied "David". Then the question "Why David?" to which the new father responded that it was a name his wife had chosen after her favorite author. The dialog continued as the bureaucrat, in a conciliatory tone that implied the father was not being reasonable, told him David was not an Iranian name, the baby could not be called David. After much back and forth, the vignette ends with the new father about to call his wife, we assume to ask her for another name. The other vignettes told the same story in different situations; a high school girl who had been seen on a motorcycle, a little girl wearing western clothes who was made to wear a full burka, a man applying for a job who was quizzed on his Shia rituals, a man who is made to take his shirt off to display his tattoos in order to get a driver's license. All the vignettes shared a person in power who had a chilling combination of a warmth and feigned camaraderie with a rigidity you might associate with 80's Eastern Bloc, which to me felt like crazy. The eerie combination somehow seemed crueler than straight up cold and mean.



A few nights later, I attended the dinner that Bessie organized, which was wonderful (sign up if that's your sort of thing, we had such fun) and listened to her mother talk about giving up her law practice in Mexico when her husband died suddenly, so that her daughter could receive a good education in the US, the challenges they have faced as a result, better explained on the website noted above than by me. And here she was, the matriarch of the table, beautifully dressed and more elegant than all of us put together, with her daughter, a dynamo who has an unfair amount of positive energy.


Soon to be refugees in Port-au-Prince, Haiti


A young, sweet and helpless couple in Brockton had asked me to drive them to a Bank of America so that he could open an account. The first appointment he could get was on March 7th, more than 2 weeks out, and they wouldn't allow him to sign his paycheck over to his wife, who already had an account there. The couple needed to pay rent before then so we drove to the bank of record on his ADP check, TD Bank. They have purple and green lollipops, sports on TV, free pens and employees who wear fleece vests that say TD Bank. But they don't have cash for Haitian refugees. His passport was the wrong flavor as was his federal ID. How about if he opened an account? No. Could they open a joint account? No. When we decided to try opening an account at Harbor One, a local bank, our faith in humanity was restored. The unfortunate part was that I had been down there to help them get set up for job hunting, and because they had, honestly almost insurmountable logistics that took priority, we weren't able to get to that work. Did I mention that they didn't have coats? Words can't begin to describe the hills they will have to climb to get established.


This girl, always smiling, despite. If you're a prayer, she'd appreciate anything you can throw her way


Communications with friends and family who are having health issues seems to have ramped up. Moms sick or in hospice, girls painfully young facing debilitating illnesses, sons fighting hard to conquer addictions, husbands receiving surprise diagnoses. I will certainly devote a post to my niece, in the photograph above, who has begun to post raw photographs of her excruciatingly difficult experience, none without a smile. There is a shock and heaviness that caring family members carry that is not possible to articulate, perhaps not even possible to identify while in the middle of it.


I haven't even mentioned the young couple who insisted they make me a delicious dinner, despite the husband having MS so smokes weed all day to dull the pain, while the wife works way too hard.


You likely know where this is going. I forgot an attachment on an email?


Gratitude is a charged word for many of us. It often feels like "stop whining, there are so many worse off people than you, be grateful." While true, inducing guilt doesn't actually help anyone, so as much as it has been messaging that has framed a good part of my life, I try to dismiss this particular flavor.


This week, I had the privilege of intimately sharing lives of different kinds and a shocking number of struggles (all real but one). There in front of me were all the blessings I've got right now, may not have forever, but have right now.


PS The Persian Version was a fun movie



Comments


bottom of page