Friday, November 30, 2007

Where have you gone, Fred and Ginger?

Spontaneity is the spice of life, and casting aside one's inhibitions from time to time can be a very good thing -- depending, of course, on the nature of the inhibition and the time and place where it is shed. Today I had a couple of moments of pure joy at work, and both involved something I would never have imagined myself doing at all as recently as a year ago. I have shared this in more detail in an e-mail sent to a few individuals, but to make a rather long story short, I danced a spontaneous waltz in front of the elevators in the court building, accompanied by a visibly delighted court interpreter, a 50-year-old Puerto Rican woman who has become a good friend of mine in recent months. Later in the afternoon, she was assigned to cover the default calendar in our courtroom, where I appeared at the end of the day to hand some paperwork to the commissioner. We mentioned the impromptu dance to her, whereupon Commissioner Harris asked us to perform it again, right there in that courtroom. We obliged her, and all present -- the commissioner, her clerk, a co-worker assigned to me that day for training, and both dancers -- ended our work week by sharing this amusing and happy moment, which still brings me a smile as I write about it several hours later.

I had not intended to mention this experience here in my blog, but felt a need to do so after I returned home and happened to read Betsy Hart's column in today's Jewish World Review. The disgusting and downright frightening story she relates stands in jarring contrast to the beauty and grace of real dancing, particularly something as elegant and dignified as the waltz. In addition to the disgust I share with the column's author, I wonder why, as it appears, nobody ever bothered to teach ballroom dancing to these kids -- and, even more, how any parent could ever stand aside, knowing that his or her children were openly and blatantly engaging in this particular variety of whoredom.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Originally uploaded by gwilmore
I really like this picture of Vanessa, which I took just before sunset yesterday.

Why Sheila is grateful

Colin is with us for a couple of days, which means yesterday was the first Thanksgiving all four of us had celebrated together since 2003. During the meal, my wife inaugurated what might prove to be a nice, if long overdue, family tradition; she suggested that we go around the table and that each of us express what we were thankful for this year. All of us mentioned family and friends at the head of the list, and with the exception of Colin, we all expressed gratitude as well for the gospel and our membership in the Church. But Sheila's remarks included an interesting and unexpected little twist. She said she was thankful for a husband who loved to dance, and for the "crazy dance instructor" who had given her this much-appreciated gift. She likes to tell people that she always figured she would end up with a husband who loved dancing, and that this did indeed prove to be the case, although she didn't know it until she had already been married to him for 20 years.

We then talked about Angie for a few minutes. Colin has never met her, but will soon, and to the rest of us she is like part of the family. I remarked that Angie is not nearly as gifted as a standup comic as she is as a dance instructor, and I repeated a couple of her unbelievably stale jokes, which are nevertheless oddly endearing simply because she is the one telling them. But of course, they elicted only groans when I repeated them at the dinner table. When Angie is not dancing, I think she must spend her free time exploring websites such as, say,

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Iraq: no news is good news

"THERE is a reason Iraq has almost disappeared as an election issue.

"Here it is: The battle is actually over. Iraq has been won."

Read all about it Down Under.

Mamnoon, Kiana jan!

Persian Beauty
Originally uploaded by Hamed Saber
This lovely young woman is Kiana Sotoudeh, who is 27 years of age and lives in Isfahan, Iran. She also happens to be one of my favorite people. I met her some time ago on Flickr, and we have since had a number of late-night chats on Yahoo Messenger. (Late-night for me, anyway, as Iran is 10-1/2 hours ahead of Arizona time.) She has always impressed me as being basically a very happy and well-adjusted person, and as thoroughly good and decent on the inside as she is outwardly beautiful. She is one of those rare individuals who can always be counted on to brighten up my world simply by being herself and reminding me from time to time that she is part of it.

Several months ago I noticed that I was hearing from Kiana much less frequently than usual, but eventually I made contact with her once again and learned the reason for her absence. She had become engaged, she said, to a young man named Jalal, who worked in a bank in Isfahan and was a couple of years older than Kiana. I was not particularly surprised by the news, but told her I was very happy for her, and confident as well that she had made a good choice – not because I knew anything about her fiancé, but because I felt I knew Kiana well enough this time to have confidence in her judgment.

This past Sunday evening Kiana appeared once again on Yahoo Messenger while I was online, and we ended up chatting for close to an hour. I don’t expect that to be the last time we talk to each other, but it was the last time we would be able to do so while she is single, since Kiana and Jalal will be married tomorrow – Friday, November 2 – in an Islamic wedding ceremony. Our conversation was, from my perspective, very sweet, tender, and memorable. We covered a variety of topics, but a few items particularly stand out. I told Kiana how much it had comforted me to know that her mother had been mindful of my family and me in her prayers, and how much Kiana’s friendship had meant to me. I offered her some advice, which she assured me that she would follow. She expressed gratitude for being able to chat online with one of her “best friends” (her words) just days before one of the biggest and happiest events in her life. And just as we were signing off, I asked her what time her ceremony was scheduled to take place. When she told me, I replied that it would be during the time I would be getting up on Friday, eating breakfast, and riding the bus to work in downtown Phoenix. I told Kiana that I would say a special prayer for her as soon as I arose that day, and that I would be present with her in spirit even though I could not be there in person. She seemed touched by this little gesture and thanked me for it, after which we signed off.

As I compose these lines, it is about 11:00 p.m. in Iran, where Kiana is doubtless getting very little sleep on her last night as an unmarried woman. Tomorrow I will be sending her a special little gift, which should reach her about 2-1/2 weeks later, and I hope to find her online again sometime in the fairly near future, although obviously her priorities are going to be a bit different from now on. I have told her that I would like to get to know Jalal, too, because if he is good enough to marry my friend Kiana, he certainly is good enough to be my friend as well. (She has told him about me, by the way.)

President Thomas S. Monson is fond of quoting some unknown author’s musing that God gives us memories in order that we might have May flowers in December. Kiana has handed me a lovely and pleasantly fragrant bouquet, which I look forward to carrying with me into the December of my years. Meanwhile, I salute her publicly on this eve of her wedding, and offer a heartfelt prayer that a loving God will always watch over and protect my dear friend, and that life might always treat her kindly.