Where Past and Present Meet

If Yeproxie Michaelian, my grandmother of blessed memory, could be shown this website, she would want to know where it is, how it got there, and what happens to it when you turn off the computer. As her understanding of technology was limited to turning the knobs on her kitchen appliances and to pushing the buttons on her television’s remote control, seeing my name and my picture displayed on a computer screen would have seemed to her a miracle — especially since she always thought of me as a farmer, not a writer.

Good old Grandma. Someday I’ll tell you about the long hours she used to spend sitting regally on her couch, eating entire watermelons and bunches of grapes, eating crumbly sheets of flat, dry Armenian bread, and great lumps of cheese. I could tell you now, but I won’t, because I have no intention of letting her take over this introduction. Because, you see, the truth about my dear grandmother is that she loved being the center of attention. After seeing my picture on the computer, she would have started looking for her own. That’s just the way she was. If anyone in the family succeeded at something, she took the credit. If they failed, that information was quickly swept under the rug. Successes were shared, but you failed on your own.

This is not to say that my grandmother wasn’t a talented woman in her own right. She was. She had a marvelous sense of humor, spoke three languages, and was one of the best cooks I have ever known. I’ve eaten a tremendous amount of Armenian food in my day, prepared by Armenian cooks from many different parts of the world. Nothing I’ve tasted has ever come close to Roxie’s cooking, except that of my own mother, whose cuisine remains virtually indistinguishable from my grandmother’s. My wife, who completes our family’s cooking triumvirate, runs a close third.

Here I will add that I’m a pretty fair cook myself — though, due to impatience and other shortcomings too numerous to mention, I have a fairly limited repertoire. My theory is, if you get hungry enough, you’ll make something to eat. If you get tired of eating the same thing over and over, you’ll branch out and try something new. For me, fast food is not an option. Neither is food out of a box. I always start with fresh ingredients, and I use plenty of salt and pepper, as you will see when you visit the section of this website that is devoted to food.

Interestingly enough, this is the same approach I use when it comes to writing. And writing is what this website is really about — though I fully expect to learn otherwise as time goes along. That’s another thing both writing and cooking have taught me. I start somewhere, expecting one set of results, and end up somewhere far afield. It happens all the time. Life is a stew. For me, the people I write about are as intriguing and lumpy as the stuff going bad in the vegetable bin. Through experience, I’ve learned how to throw them together, and then, stirring and tasting as I go, to bring out their memorable qualities. And when I fail, as happens occasionally, I do what my grandmother used to do: I sweep my failure under the rug and move on.

Speaking of websites, let me say this: if it isn’t obvious already, I’m not big on formalities. I’d like you to view williammichaelian.com as an electronic version of a nice, warm parlor, in which the furniture is comfortably worn and the piano is an old upright covered with sheet music. While you’re here, have a good time. If there’s something on your mind, or something you would like to know, speak up. E-mail is a great thing. Please use it. All I ask is that you be polite. And just so you know — I can take criticism, as long as it’s constructive and made in the proper spirit. Of course, like my grandmother, I can also take praise.

As you browse the site, I hope you find it interesting enough and entertaining enough to mark it on your computer as one of your favorites. If nothing else, doing so will save you the trouble of having to type in my name again and again, and help you avoid the “not found” messages that pop up when you misspell “Michaelian.”

That’s it for now. Thanks very much for stopping by, and good luck. Please stay in touch.

William Michaelian, Salem, Oregon, December 2001

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
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Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
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Let’s Eat
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