Category Archives: (3)BeautifulThings

Beautiful things from a Tuesday in the month where everyday felt like Monday

yellowsunshine diptych
yellowsunshine diptych, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

From Tuesday, January 23, 2007

one. The Howie Day album I haven’t listened to in over a year because it inexplicably started skipping just as inexplicably works perfectly again when I pop it into my CD player while driving to work. I spend my commute listening to music that reminds me of college, partly because I once used the opening line of Brace Yourself (So you think/You can hold the world up by a string) as a post title to illustrate the hectic days that marked my last quarter of college. Standing in the Sun and This Time Around are two other favorites (I still distinctly remember having just gotten off work one evening, sitting in my car at a traffic light in downtown Sacramento, head turned, glancing at something to my right, as the line I always knew the sun would burn away spilled out of the speakers for the first time), while Numbness for Sound unexpectedly brings back bittersweet memories.

two. I’ve got my favorite Desi restaurant on speed-dial! I walk in to pick up the one, single naan (and nothing else) that I’ve ordered, and the Indian lady at the counter smiles at me. “I’m sorry we didn’t have samosas again,” she says. “The baba who makes them is out today.”

“That’s alright,” I say. “I always come here for the naan anyway!”

“Your friend didn’t come with you today? She was here the other day.”

“Which friend? The tall one?”

“Yes! She’s so beautiful!” says the woman, wide-eyed. “I asked her where she was from, and she said Afghanistan.”

“Oh, did she?” I say, laughing to myself. “She’s Pathan, that’s probably why she said that.” My family and B’s are both from the Attock district in Pakistan, but, as a native Pukhtu speaker, she also identifies quite strongly with Afghan culture. I can’t wait to get back to the office and say accusingly, “Oh, so now you’re Afghan, huh?”

three. In corresponding with a colleague with whom I am working on a project, I send the following note:

Could you please forward this to ______? My email, below, didn’t seem to go through to him. Thanks so much!

His response makes me smile:

Hi Yasmine, I seem to have forwarded it successfully. But, you know, it goes into cyberspace and then what?

four. Scrounging around for writing instruments, I borrow a pen from my co-worker (without telling her) but like it so much that I decide to keep it. This, I guess, would be called stealing, but who cares? My left-handed clumsiness and I are grateful for pretty pens that allow us to write in smooth, streak-free lines.

five. Driving back to the office from the aforementioned lunch, I notice some beautiful yellow flowers planted across the street. I make a u-turn, park illegally, and walk swiftly, camera in hand, down the sidewalk to the corner with the yellow flowers. The image at the head of this post is a diptych of two photos I took that afternoon. Yellow sunshine flowers on a day that feels like Monday are a warm and unexpectedly soothing remedy when spring seems so far away.

Take a glorious bite out of the whole world

Three beautiful things – Friday, Dec. 29th:

one. While walking to my office in the morning, I whistle at a beautiful, furry orange cat sunning itself on the sidewalk, and surprise myself with the clear notes that come out of my mouth. I can’t even remember the last time I whistled. Has it been years? I thought I had forgotten how.

two. Getting off early from work (3pm!) and going to the movies with B. Best part: sneaking my bottle of chocolate milk inside and drinking it while watching the film. By the way, I thought Dream Girls was ROCKING. Note to self: Coordinate plans to watch it again with Princess Pretty Pants and D.

three. Personalized license plates seen on a sports car zooming down the freeway: IHAV2P

I want to stay another season/see summer upon this sorry land

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

The heat wasn’t working at the office today, which means I spent most of the day being aggravated about the cold and – of course – engaging in monologues with God about how much I disapprove of this winter business.

“It’s all in your head, Yasminay,” my father would say, but my father wasn’t the one who had to sit there with blue fingernails all day long, either. It’s enough to make a kid want to turn around and return home, even though it took said kid 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to work this morning. (Californians are idiots when it comes to driving in the rain, apparently.)

Leaving work at the end of the day, I stepped out the front door into the evening darkness and the first words out of my mouth upon seeing the pouring rain were, “Aw, f*ck.” Needless to say, I felt a severe dearth of things to be happy about today, but my earlier comment-gone-too-lengthy over on Chai’s “Three Appreciations” post forced me to rethink the gloominess. (It took far too long to brainstorm all this, though, trust me.)

Driving home too fast on roads that were too wet, blinded by inky-black asphalt and incessant rain, I turned up both the heat and the music and kept my eyes on the yellow line for guidance, smiling wryly as U2 sang, You got to get yourself together…

Here, then, unnumbered and expanded, is my list of rocking things about today, in spite of the freakin’ rain that makes me shake my fist at God:

Co-workers who make me laugh so much about pointless things that my stomach hurts and tears pour out of my eyes. We laughed about falafel, of all things. Falafel are funny.

New philosophy, stolen off the incomparable Z: “I like to call things I don’t wanna do ‘adventures,’ to make them suck less.”

Deciding that I am going to start bringing cocoa powder and milk into the office, so I can make myself hot chocolate while everyone else stands around drinking their (nasty!) tea. Also, this is just an excuse to warm up my hands on a hot mug. The co-worker Zee offered me tea today while making some for everyone else, and I just smirked and shook my head in refusal. “Yasmine doesn’t drink tea,” laughed B. “She only drinks cranbery juice, and eats doughnuts and candy and string cheese.”
“Hey, I bought some dried fruit from the grocery store yesterday,” I protested, but no one believed me.

Friends who check out my gmail status message [“every day is yasmine day”] and IM me with, “Happy Yasmine day!” Another variation:
J: “Yasmine day is today!”
Me: “Dude, what are you talking about, it’s EVERY DAY. Get with the program.”
J: “I didnt say it wasn’t everyday. I said it was today. Isn’t it today? And tomorrow I’d say it again.”

In conversation with a friend, I make a point and finish it off with my requisite threats of stabbing and an emphatic, “The end!”
He responds with, “To be continued,” and I can’t help but laugh: “I hate you, no one has ever waylaid my ‘the end’ line so well before.”

Jogging down to the end of the street to grab the umbrella from my car for a co-worker, I’m reminded of how much I miss running. No – how much I miss enjoying running. (Un)fortunately, I am no longer 12-17 years old; now, I’m ostensibly grown-up and I like who I’ve become, so I don’t have anything to run from anymore, myself included.

Male friends who can admit they have “boy crushes.”
Me, as a wholly rhetorical question: “How come I don’t have any boy crushes?”
MF, generously: “You can have some of mine.”

Trying to explain to the buddy Z where to locate the seat-warmer buttons in his car. Seat-warmers on a day like this? Freakin’ ROCKING. When I become dictator of the world, I will ensure that everyone has seat-warmers in their cars – and their very own personal blue raspberry slurpee machines, too. So, vote for me, kids – I might even have another discussion with God about the weather, while I’m at it.

Take a breath, feel the beat in the rhythm of my steps

My (one and only) sell-out t-shirt
Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

[Three beautiful things from October 15, 2006]

– Wearing my favorite red t-shirt – I call it my “sell-out” shirt – and realizing it still smells like the Clinique perfume I spritzed on at Macy’s, four days ago. [The shirt reads “Coca-Cola” in Urdu/Arabic script, read right to left.] I have to smile whenever I see the above photo, which taken in San Francisco last July while I was lunching with college friends who are always so delighted to see me that I am constantly humbled when I think of how lucky I am to know such rockstars.

– Asking T how to correctly pronounce the following words:

– diocese
– ecumenical
– liturgy
– licentiate

and having him deadpan, “You’re asking the wrong person. I’m a fob.”

– Renewing my flickrPro account, two days before expiration. That means yet more photos for you to enjoy on the days when I’m too lazy to write. Which has lately been a lot of days, seemingly. Anyone else missing the long, long posts I was infamous for? Yeah, me, too.

On the side of the highway, baby/Our road is long

This is my favorite picture, even though it's fuzzy and out of focus
Blurry San Francisco, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Beautiful things:
Bumper stickers I’ve noticed lately, which have made me laugh –


EAT BEEF. The West wasn’t won on salad.


And my personal favorite – NIRWANA – which reminded me of when my favorite crackhead, Somayya, first moved from Pakistan to the U.S. as a five year old. As a fobby little kindergartener, she became famous for uttering lines such as, “I am vearing a west today and I live in Vest Sacramento.” Also, the very first English word she spoke was “cupcake.” See, this is why we’re friends, even though we’re related by default.

Three things: The Halloween in GMail-chat edition

Colorful mobiles
Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

I first got an inkling that Halloween this year was going to generate funny conversations when my buddy Z IMed me at the beginning of October with, “I’m gonna go as Ahmedinejad for Halloween.” Seriously, I didn’t even have a comeback to compete with that. In true Yasmine fashion, I believe my response was laughter and resounding approval: “ROCKING.”

The evening of Halloween, I got home from work at 8pm with a pounding headache, crawled onto the sofa with my favorite psychedelic-colored comfort blanket, and watched Dancing with the Stars and Boston Legal while eating Chinese leftovers from dinner with T and B the evening before. In between exchanging text messages with T – who was trying to convince me to 1. invest in orange flares and 2. visit the East Coast – I kept an attentive ear out for trick-or-treaters stopping by. (Un)fortunately, only about half a dozen kids showed up in total – since Casa420 [my home] is located on a narrow, winding, “scary” street, as I had been explaining to Z earlier in the day – which meant I ended up with lots of leftover Halloween candy. I’m not complaining. As the following conversations show, I’m a huge fan of free candy – and so are my friends, it seems.

GMail conversation with A, mid-October:

yasmine: i like halloween
yasmine: well, i like candy, so i jump at any chance to get free candy
A: same here
A: I once got into an argument with someone that Halloween is haram [forbidden/prohibited]
A: it was quite amusing
A: I don’t think they got the commercial aspect of free candy
yasmine: “HALLOVEEEN IS…BID’AH [religious innovation]!”
A: hahahaha
A: I was like, “you can make it halal [permissible]”
A: can dress up as your favourite Imam, that type of thing
A: “I’m Bukhari! I’m Bukhari!”
yasmine: that’s freakin’ hilarious
yasmine: i want to be al-ghazali, in that case
yasmine: al-ghazali was a ROCKSTAR
yasmine: mashaAllah
A: hahahahaha
A: yeah, I’m an idiot
A: needless to say, haven’t spoken to that person again
A: they started telling me about how it’s all so paganistic
yasmine: oh yeah, i bet
yasmine: they probably think you’re all haraam now
yasmine: vat a BLASPHEMER!
A: and then I told them about the days of the week in the Julian calendar
A: and how they’re based on pagan gods

A’s GMail status on October 31st: “Halloween mubarak!”

yasmine: so, are you dressed as your favorite imam?
A: no, not at all
A: I kinda went the other route!
yasmine: hahaha and what would that be?
A: I dressed up as a devil
yasmine: what’re you wearing, exactly?
A: well, got the hair-band thing with the devil horns that light up
A: and then got a mini-trident that lights up
A: wore all black clothes
yasmine: oh dude, you’re rocking it up, aren’t you
A: and came into work, made a sign in MS Word
A: using the word art font
A: that said “Prada”
A: taped it on my back
yasmine: i am silently laughing so hard at work right now
A: and I became “The Devil Wears Prada” :)
yasmine: you are so freakin’ hilarious
A: hahaha
A: I’m just an idiot
yasmine: to steal a line from my buddy hijabman: “HIGHFIVE!”
A: I thought this up last night at the dollar store
A: Oopar paanch! :)

And, of course, the incomparable Z, who started it all:

Z at 4.30pm: Attention: the secretaries have chocolate and lots of it
Z: they are sitting behind it right now
Z: but they leave in precisely T minus half an hour
Z: this is when we strike

Z at 5.05pm: READY YOUR MEN
yasmine: mygod, you’re on crack
yasmine: CANDY CRACK!
Z: we had to retreat, the guard hadn’t retired yet
Z: which is weird, they’re usually gone by 5
Z: but we’re gearing up for another pass
Z: and man, is it gonna be glorious
Z: see? i can have fun at work without you
Z: it just takes a little imagination
yasmine: i hate you. stop having fun without me, dammit

Z at 5.43pm: carla took the candy
Z: stupid carla


Three beautiful things: The transportation edition

Overhead Heading home
Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

[From October 11, 2006]

– It takes me two hours to get to work in the morning, because two big rigs collided on the Sunol Grade on Interstate 880 and spilled oil across the freeway. Impatiently listening to the AM radio to pick up on any traffic updates, I hear the newscasters discussing their colleague’s fascination with my favorite cookies: “Every week, he bursts into a new realm of snickerdoodledom.”

– In the afternoon, I stop by Macy’s for a quick errand, opt for street parking rather than the garage, and discover, to my delight, that there are still 42 minutes left on my parking meter. (This, of course, means I spend way too much time doing extra girly things like checking out earrings, spritzing on perfume, and buying my favorite lipgloss.)

– GMail IM from Z: “Yesterday on BART, a little 4 year old girl said, ‘I have pigtails and you don’t!'”

(More than three) beautiful things: The semi-work edition

Originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

Okay, kids, so remember that part where I said I was going to post “three beautiful things” everyday? Well, clearly, it didn’t work so well, because – once again! – I haven’t really updated in nearly three weeks. The good news is, I’ve been scribbling down beautiful things in my lovely little Moleskine notebook, as I am wont to do with all potential weblog posts. The part where it backfired is the part where I neglected to type things out. But I guess the fact that all you all still stop by means you don’t mind reading about things three weeks later. Long live our communal procrastination tactics, rockstars!

Meanwhile, I’m drowning in project plans at work (three of them, kids, THREE!), so I apologize for what’ll be continued sporadic posting. But here’s some short stuff for you to read:

– Regarding the photo above, I recently posted it to flickr with the following title: “My fax cover-sheet got printed looking like this and I was so tempted to append a note saying, ‘Thank you kindly, clearly we appreciate your business/enjoy working with you,’ and just send it off like this.” I make myself laugh so much, you don’t even know.

– Funny subject line on email spam at work: “Hey, our boss got fired?”

– Funny spam subject line #2: “Offices have been closed permanently.”

– We received a shipment of new envelopes and brochures at the office, and I couldn’t stop going into the back room and lifting the flaps off the boxes and sniffing inside. I have decided I love the smell of new paper.

– Also, there was this work-related event where I had to do quite a bit of talking, and the Board has decided I am a “fantastic speaker,” as well as “articulate” and “personable.” Who knew? However (in somehow related news, just take my word for it), some Muslims apparently can’t handle headwraps, though. Muslims are so annoying sometimes. They needa stop with that drama.

Three Things: The Home Edition

Chukairiyaan, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

1. Waking up at 8am, realizing it’s a Saturday, and burrowing back under the warm covers to sleep in until 10:30. Washing my face, and then promptly sitting down at the computer. I check emails and weblogs while my mother pulls up a chair beside me and flips through catalogues and coupon books. We discuss an impending visit to IKEA (she’s never been!), and she tells me The Sister is on a newfound campaign to add a cat to our household. A cat would be nice, says my mother wistfully. She fondly recalls our previous next-door neighbor’s cat, Daisy, who used to keep my mother company in the garden.

2. I wash and condition my hair, then actually take the time to comb it out, too – albeit abruptly, top to bottom rather than the other way around, so that my impatient tugs result in lots of gnarled hair in the wastebasket. Still, it got combed. Since I’m a firm adherent of the “I don’t believe in combing my hair” philosophy, today’s effort is highly newsworthy and must be mentioned, especially considering I have conversations about hair quite rarely anyway (my favorite conversation is still that latter one, with a four-year-old, no less). I then sit in a pool of sunshine on the living room floor, willing my hair to dry while reading the last few chapters of John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, a book I love but have never reread since finishing it in one evening for my tenth-grade English class, eight years ago. In one passage that makes me smile, Gene says:

After the lights went out the special quality of my silence let [Phineas] know I was saying [prayers], and he kept quiet for approximately three minutes. Then he began to talk; he never went to sleep without talking first and he seemed to feel that prayers lasting more than three minutes were showing off. God was always unoccupied in Finny’s universe, ready to lend an ear any time at all. Anyone who failed to get his message through in three minutes, as I sometimes failed to do when trying to impress him, Phineas, with my sanctity, wasn’t trying.

3. Lazily sitting around the dining room table after we’ve just finished dinner, The Sister looks around at each of us individually and asks, wide-eyed, “Anyone want chocolate cake?” I laugh at her excitement, and she adds, “I’ve been looking forward to this all day!” Our mother, ever the practical one, advises that we save the dessert-consumption for after taraweeh [the nightly congregational prayers held during Ramadan], but the daddy-o – never one to refuse dessert – overrules that suggestion with an authoritative, “Well, in that case, we can have two! – one dessert now, and another one when we get back from taraweeh.” A quick peek into the refrigerator makes me laugh at all the choices available to us: apple-caramel-pecan cake, chocolate ganache torte, apple pie, chocolate-orange sticks, and, in the freezer, two pints of ice cream, one of which (my new favorite: Ben&Jerry’s American Pie) merited an excited email from me to fellow ice cream fan 2Scoops months ago, raving about how it was “basically exactly what it sounds like – apple pie with ice cream!” Just for 2Scoops, I would like to add that the American Pie ice cream is still SPECTACULARICIOUS.

Three Things (plus three more)

Sunlight shadows on the sidewalk, Friday afternoon
Sunlight shadows on the sidewalk, Friday afternoon, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

This afternoon, after clicking over to and pausing before signing in (believe it or not, this is something I do often: I decide I want to update this weblog, I click over to Blogger, and then I just stop, overcome by a feeling of overwhelming helplessness: Where do I even begin? – too many stories to share, and, clearly, I think too much and thus end up writing and sharing nothing)…so, anyway, in the few moments today as my fingers hovered restlessly over the mouse and I debated yet again whether or not to sign into Blogger, I discovered my new favorite weblog: it’s one in the list of current Blogs of Note, and entitled Three Beautiful Things. Someone named Spitfire left a lovely comment there that summed up the entire premise of the Three Beautiful Things weblog:

The natural, simple happiness of the commonplace things is subtle and beautiful, and yet it requires a well-trained eye to appreciate it.
Those who find in the small details the true reason for being alive are to be praised. The search for sources of authentic smiles is a difficult, but noble and delightful activity.

And as Clare herself of Three Beautiful Things notes:

The thing about 3BT is, it’s not that my life is particularly beautiful (although I know as a single woman living in England in 2007, I have a lot to be thankful for) but that I find myself constantly on the look-out for beautiful things.

Leaving work at 5.30pm today, I swung the front door shut behind me, and something about the late afternoon light made me stop dead in my tracks. Seconds later, my bag hit the ground and I was kneeling on the walkway, camera in hand, snapping photos of the sunlight on the grass. When I’d decided a dozen photos was more than enough, I stood up, brushed off my knees, and, before turning away to head back to my car, I stopped and aimed one final, level glance at the shadows, thinking, I have to remember this moment so I can write about it later.

So, because I am nothing if not a proponent of celebrating the mundane (and a lover of the word beautiful), I’ve decided I’m going to try this three beautiful things exercise myself, in order to get myself back into the swing of writing regularly. Perhaps (I’m pretty sure) I’ll end up recording more than three things at a time, but the point – for me – is to just write. Simple, seemingly mundane things would be a good start, because in the last few months I’ve become so overwhelmed by what I haven’t written that it’s been difficult to get myself out of this blogging backlog and actually write.

I’m aiming to try this everyday. Ambitious, I know, but I’ve got to start somewhere. And because I’ve missed Blogistan comment-box conversations with my fellow bloggers and blurkers [blog+lurkers] so much, you are more than welcome to add your own three-things to the comments.

So, here’s my Friday: Things that made me smile, in numerical form. One, two, three, GO.

1. The way the late afternoon sunlight and shadows slant across the sidewalk. [See photo above. It took me far too long to decide which photo to post; they’re all so sunshine-y beautiful and make me especially happy because this past week has been all about the rain.]

2. Organizing a conference call for work – and having it go off without a hitch – and crossing everything off Page One of my four-page project plan. (I love the strikethrough function! Pages 2-4 must be completed during this upcoming week, though. Gross.)

3. GMail chat conversation with HijabMan about how he’s planning on flying notes around his office. The mental image made me laugh, and what’s even funnier is that I can imagine my co-worker/buddy B and I doing the same.

4. Phone conversations spent remembering karaoke with old co-workers, back in the good ol’ downtown Sacramento days.

5. Accolades –
HijabMan: “Wow, how did you get so lucky…? Dude, you are so a rockstar.”
Yasmine: “Because they love me!”
HijabMan: “I’ve never heard you say something so…self-centered.”

6. Quick GMail chat conversation with the buddy Z about how, as children, we used to light things on fire, which inexplicably ends with him exclaiming, “You, sire, are a DILETTANTE.”