Las Vegas was nice.

We hit a Denny's on the way. That's a good way to start.

Aaron and I had pancakes. They weren't as good as pancakes in LA, but they weren't bad.

Then, we kept on all the way to Vegas and went straight to Noah Cicero.

He talked about how him and I met and the weird serendipity of friendships and circles that came about after I agreed to make a film of his novella The Human War.

"I met Loren and Jake, and I went to Korea, and now I'm here. That wouldn't have happened without you making the film and meeting you."

We chatted for a good long while.

I could tell people were getting restless, so we let it die after a couple hours, and we headed to our hotel and decided to have Mediterranean food.

This was my first time walking Vegas without being on the strip. It's an interesting city. It actually reminds me of parts of Daejeon, Korea. They had this rooftop to protect folks from the Sun, but there were all these images broadcast over it. I pointed up to the ceiling and said how much it was like Korea, and Aaron laughed.

"Haaaa," he said. "Yeah."

Then we just took in the spectacle of everything. People barely dressed, and I'm not sure why, tourists with ice cream cones, folks holding beers and standing next to stages, where a band is performing covers, and droves and droves of people looking and eating and talking.

"I like being around people," Noah announced. "I love this."

I could see how it was really stimulating. People from all over the country and world. It was almost like a zoo for human beings. It reminded me of the story of those hamsters that are given drugs and two sets of cages: one with lots of cages and hamster friends and another without any nice spinning wheels or friends. The hamsters with the nice cages and lots of friends didn't take any of the drugs from the water dispenser, while the lonely hamster got hooked on whatever drug they were testing.

I figure if I were a hamster in Las Vegas, I'd probably be engaged with the stimulation of my hamster friends. It's very unlike Los Angeles, where everyone is spread out. But it does feel like Hollywood Boulevard, or other types of tourist type centers of the world.

When we walked back to the hotel, we only gambled about $40. All of us were too tired from all the driving and called it an early night. We also knew we had to film the next day early in the morning. Meina was heading back to Philadelphia as soon as we got to LA, so we picked a spot right outside of Vegas and set-up the cameras at a rest stop.

Then, her and I chatted about the experience of going on the road trip. I told her that I cared for her and wished her the best on her journey with going back to college and all that. That it was nice to do this adventure with her, but I'd be okay with not seeing her for three years.

"I mean," I said. "You're great, but, after this, we don't need to do this again for at least three years."

That cracked her up.

Then we talked about how exhausting it was to explain ourselves to people. The same conversation in a loop: "Where are you from? What does that name mean? What's it like being in America? What do you think about what's going on in Iran?"

It gets very tiring to have the same conversation, where you have to represent an entire country when you just want your coffee at the Starbuck's -- or wherever you happen to be when people decide they want a history lesson just because they notice you look different.

I'm pretty sure I cried talking about that. I'm all over the place really.

Once I got to LA, and Meina went off back to Philly, I spoke to my therapist here, and she said the trauma I blocked with the barber when I was nine, plus the cop pulling me over, Meina crying about that, and then some of my friends not being empathetic to my experience, were all further traumas. She said I'd jump around the grieving process.

"You'll go from sadness to anger to feeling vulnerable. You'll just hop around these things, until you don't. So just let yourself go through it."

That made me feel better. At least I knew it was normal to have this reaction.

Tomorrow, Aaron and I film one of our friends and her two sons for the film. They are supposed to be my mom and I at different ages. I'm curious how it'll go.

Oh, I also got a haircut yesterday. It was so nice. I went to my favorite place on Melrose that I've been going to since 2005. Vous Hair Salon. Yanni owns it, and she wasn't there yesterday, but Angel called me and said to come on through. That was nice. Her and I chatted about the film, and she loved it, and gave me advice about how to deal with things. Then we talked about how open Yanni was.

"I remember," Angel said, "when I first came to cut hair here. I told her I was transexual, and she wanted to know what I looked like all done up. Because I wasn't wearing any make-up -- because that's how I used to be back then -- I'd only do this at night. So, I showed a picture of me done up, and she was like, 'Oh, come to work like that!'"

"Yeah," I said. "Yanni is great like that. She's so open. That's why I've been coming here for so long. I never felt like I'd be turned away."

"Well, we love you. I always tell Yanni when you come in -- what a nice guy you are. I mean, you just change the whole atmosphere in the place."

"That's funny," I said. "It's just being here that makes me feel like I can be myself."

#Day19 #PiroozKalayeh #SometimesIDreaminFarsi #Documentary #noahcicero #thehumanwar #voushairsalon #vegas

Now, I'm just angry. I don't cry anymore. I'm just extremely irritable. The slightest thing can set me off.

Who would have thought that experiencing a racially traumatic event when I was nine years old would have this affect all these years later? My therapist warned that I was going to uncover a lot. When we chatted last week, she saw that the film was providing healing and she encouraged me to keep going. Now, I'm a bit worried.

After that police officer pulled me over, and then getting e-mails from folks that were less than encouraging, I've found myself with certain triggers. Last night, I even yelled at someone. I haven't yelled in years. It was just a neighbor playing music too loud. Afterwards, I apologized and we hugged it out, but I could sense that something feels a bit off. I'm so edgy. And it's been growing on this road trip and through the making of the film.

I spoke to Aaron, Nemanja, and Brad about it. Nemanja says to just wait through it. That there is nothing I can do, but feel it. Brad told me to ask why I was angry. Aaron suggested I read literature and write about it.

I read this article about how children who go through racial trauma have certain triggers that can act like PTSD. It can lead to depression or sudden mood changes. That's definitely me.

I figure there are a few things I can do to cope. I'm going to paint a bit tomorrow. I'm going to watch Coco. That always makes me happy. Then, I'll just meditate 2-3 times a day. I'll also see about talking to my therapist tomorrow.

Let me tell you, it's so strange to be an adult and have these unresolved feelings from when you were a kid. The news that the Supreme Court voted to allow the discrimination of that gay couple in the bakery didn't help me I'm sure. I'm guessing that was another trigger, since that was exactly my situation in the barber shop. Then, there are all these people on Facebook -- friends of mine -- who are seeing it as a positive thing for the baker and his First Amendment rights to discriminate.

Refusing people the right to service doesn't make the world a better place. It sets up an inequality that's hostile and only leads to further discrimination and trauma.

I just remembered another moment. I was in the East End Cafe. Some guy started throwing all these racial slurs at me for no reason. I was tending the bar. He just went at me. I don't know if he was drunk or whatever. Then, Richie came out and I told him what was going on with the guy. I'll never forget it. Richie just told the guy to get out and that he was banned.

"Come on, Richie!" the guy said. "I was just joking."

"Get out!!" Richie yelled. "You're banned for life!"

This was why I loved working at the East End. I'd do anything for Richie, because he treated all of us like family.

Sometimes I wish every place was like that. To have a boss who would stand up for you and get your back. I wouldn't even mind working there now at my age. That's how much having a positive work environment can motivate you.

Now, is it okay for Richie to kick out the racist guy attacking me and not for the baker to be homophobic and refuse service to the couple? I'd say what Richie did was totally okay, because the guy was causing trouble. If he wasn't disturbing the peace, then why couldn't he stay? He could stay all he wants if he wasn't going to attack employees. The same goes for the couple. They weren't doing anything to disturb the peace of the establishment. Why can't they stay and get a fucking croissant?

Honestly, what I see is that bigotry is being allowed to flourish in this country, because what's typically kept under covers is now allowed a freer reign to be displayed by Donald Trump's example, but also because there's been more attention brought to diversity and inclusion. As each group raises its voice, the resulting bitterness from both camps becomes louder.

So, what can be done?

Brad just sent me a story about the Buddha and a woman who is unable to accept the death of her baby. The Buddha says he can help provide her medicine if she finds a house that has mustard seeds, where no one has died in the home. As she goes place to place, the owners have mustard seeds, but there is always death that has touched each home. Slowly, she realizes that her baby has died, and it won't be brought back to life.

I suppose this story works for people understanding that death is a natural process of life, and it can also be a way for people to understand that everyone has experienced trauma and be able to let it go as well. I am the mother in this story, carrying this incident from my past and unable to let it go. At least, it could metaphorically be understood that way. At the same time, it's not that I'm holding onto anything. I've just got this pain and suffering that wasn't dealt with and now it's rearing itself later.

I suppose I could just "let it go" when it shows itself. I could decide not to engage the thought. That's one way, but I don't think the human mind works that efficiently. I'm also not actually engaging the narrative. It's just a reservoir of emotions I'm feeling. It's almost like I had forgotten the memory and how I felt, and it's the sound or smell of something -- in this case other moments on the news or in my life that echo that previous incident -- that trigger these feelings, and I have no control. I'm just flooded with emotion without any corresponding story. It's just there like a lump in your throat.

Brad says meditation is good. So, I'll try that. I also like Nemanja's ideas of just waiting it out. But, most of all, I think for people who have experienced racial trauma as children or adults, it's probably best to talk about it. To air out these feelings and let the world know you've been affected. Then, maybe, there are those few people who simply listen. They don't need to offer solutions or make everything right. They can just let you know you'll be okay, rub your back, or offer you a hug.

I'd say as our country is going through these various discussions about pain and suffering caused by othering, the best we can do is be there for one another without judgment or blame. Some people just need a chance to talk about what's happened.

This also makes me realize that other people are not as lucky as me to have therapy or good friends and family to talk with, or even a platform such as this one, where they could connect with the rest of the world. And, I also realize that there's a certain amount of what I'm going through that's not expressible in language. Maybe this is why art is so important in how we deal with big feelings. You can play the piano loud or the electric guitar like my neighbor. You can push a brush against a canvas or you could even make a film.

Maybe that's the best thing I can do to heal myself. Just keep making this film and documenting my process through it. There's no way to magically make feelings disappear. I'm not so sure that all the difficulties America is going through can be resolved overnight either. But, maybe, watching someone go through these different big feelings will help others release their sadness and rage.

I think about Mr. Rogers a lot these days. I saw on my feed this story of him getting a black police officer to put his feet next to his in a kiddie pool -- and then he dried his feet afterwards -- and how healing and powerful it was for the officer, but also for the rest of the world who saw it.

Maybe Sometimes I Dream in Farsi will help everyone feel like they can put their feet in the pool.

And, maybe the discussions we have afterwards will help dry them off.

#Day18 #SometimesIDreaminFarsi #Documentary #Rage #Anger #BigFeelings #MrRogers #PiroozKalayeh #BradWarner #Buddha #mustardseeds #iLIKENIRVANA

Boulder was nice. I wandered around the Naropa campus and saw all the spots we used to hang out. Most of them were gone -- all the picnic tables. Just gone.

I also tried the writing program office, but it had signs there that said closed, so I just sat and waited near the library. Thankfully, Aquiles found us.

He showed up and went right into interview mode. I guess running a company makes him good at public speaking. That's what I thought at the time, but then I realized he's just a good writer. Like Bobbie said: "A good writer is a good talker, and a good talker is a good writer."

I felt really proud of Aquiles. He had become such a wise, generous, and upright citizen of the world. It was good to see and I told him so.

Then we headed to Bobbie's old house on Bluff street. I talked about my dream with her, and then we played some of her reading a few poems with the three of us listening in her front lawn. It was my way of paying my respects. I hate funerals, but I can handle small things on my own.

Meina started crying when she heard Bobbie read a poem about women being heroes. I wasn't sure why. Then Aquiles explained how he had a similar reaction when he was standing in front of a Joan Miro painting one time.

"I was overwhelmed, because I understood he had captured something beyond language," Aquiles said. "The same thing happened to you with Bobbie's piece."

I didn't know if Aquiles wanted to go out to eat or what. Meina said she thought he wanted to head off with his friend. I wasn't sure, so I took the two of them to the closest place I could think of -- The Boulderado. They didn't want to go there. Then, as usual, they wandered from one restaurant to another, until they were finally cool with the Mountain Sun: the most hippie place in Boulder. Lots of vegetarian options, and they were happy.

By the time we left, and I was driving them down Pearl Street, we ran into Aquiles again. He was surprised and thought we would have been in Utah by now, so we shot the shit for another half hour or so.

By the time we really left Boulder, I could feel I didn't even want too. There's something so peaceful about being there. It's a really good town with the mountains and all. It kind of wants you to stay forever. I suppose that's why it was so hard leaving. For some reason, the GPS had me go through the mountains at night. It was so tough. Meina was screaming the whole time. It was sort of like being in Saas Fee in Switzerland, when those buses would take you up the mountain -- all these sheer drops and craggy cliffs alongside you. In the dark, it just made it seem more ominous and scary. Add to that, my fatigue and windy roads I wasn't used to, and it was an experience.

When we finally got to some place about 20 minutes before Utah, I had us stop.

"I can't go anymore," I announced.

Tomorrow is heading to Las Vegas to see Noah. I hope I can sleep more than four hours tonight.

#Day17 #SometimesIDreaminFarsi #Documentary #PiroozKalayeh #AquilesLaGrave #BobbieLouiseHawkins