29 May 2006

liberation from a bottle of shampoo?

i just saw a truly amazing and inspiration movie documentary at the belcourt theater in nashville called The Beauty Academy of Kabul. the story is about some american hairstylists who go to kabul, afghanistan to open a beauty school for the women there. i went into the cinema expecting to get a few laughs out of it and then go home. i wasn't really taking it seriously. but i was, in fact, very touched and moved by this film.

first of all, the courage it took those six american women to go to kabul and open a beauty school is extraordinary. they were dealing not only with an entirely different culture and language, but they had to actually renovate the space to make it suitable for a beauty school. the afghani men who were helping with renovations were not used to having women tell them what to do, which brought about a whole new set of struggles.

but once this school opened up, so many women wanted to be in the first class that they ended up having to literally draw names out of a hat. many of the women taking the course had been hairdressers before the taliban came into power, and some of them continued to work in secret out of their homes under the taliban government. some of the women had never done hair before. but the one thing they all had in common was how much they wanted to learn. the teachers kept commenting on how quickly they were all learning and what outstanding students they were.

there was also some commentary on the homelives of the women in the course. most of them were married, but not to men they had chosen for themselves. the ones who were married were very fearful of their husbands. they didn't wear makeup because their husbands said they shouldn't. one woman couldn't come to class for two days because her mother-in-law was sick and her husband told her she couldn't go. but these women persevered. they had survived something i could never dream of living through--the taliban. yet they were all happy and smiling. the confidence they gained from taking this course was something they could pass on to other women.

toward the end of the course, they started accepting clients for free so that the students could have practice doing real hair. again, more women showed than they could handle. they were literally having to push women away fromt the doorway in order to shut the door. upon leaving, one woman said she felt the best she had ever felt because of a haircut.

one of the american hairdressers mentioned during the movie, "i'm a hairdresser, i heal people." and these afghani women would be healing the city, one woman at a time.

this was an inspirational, emotional, and sincere movie about real life. you should all go see it.

here are some other articles/reviews you may be interested in reading:
l.a. weekly
chicago tribune

24 May 2006

biggest personal space bubble in history.

sitting in the philadelphia airport on wireless. my flight should have left 11 minutes ago, but we won't be leaving for another two hours and nine minutes. guess why? go on, i dare ya!

ok fine, i'll tell you. it's because of the president. president george w. bush.

the president visited philadelphia this afternoon to tour a nuclear power plant. read this article for more information.

anyway, he's leaving philadelphia now. his plane is departing back to washington. so thousands, or tens of thousands, of travelers are being inconvenienced so that georgie porgie can have the whole airspace to himself. i've been traveling for 12 days now. have stayed in 8 different places in the last 12 days, and now my flight is delayed two and a half hours because of this guy. how long does it take to take off? 8 minutes? 10 minutes? yet all these flights are delayed two and a half hours. why exactly is that you ask? well, when the president is in the air, no airplane from maine to florida can be in the air. that's the policy. you know, they talk about americans having big personal space bubbles, that we don't like to be very close to other people in public spaces. we sit far apart in movie theaters and buses, we make it a point not to touch anyone around us...and God forbid we would ever make eye contact with a stranger. well i think this man takes the cake. the distance from maine to florida is approximately 2,000 miles. that's about 3,200 kilometers. i really think he should go into the guiness book of world records for biggest personal space bubble in history. that's one bubble i'd like to pop.

watch the video rox posted on her blog. definitely a funny one.

19 May 2006


i'm home! it's oh-so-nice to be back here. after a long and arduous journey, i have a few days to relax here in the quiet and peaceful town of Hluboka Nad Vltavou.

but not so quiet and peaceful up at school. it's crazy day today at
Townshend International School. what does this mean, you ask? well, the graduating class had their last day of classes yesterday, and they now have about a week and a half to prepare for their final exit exams. every year after their last day of classes, the graduates plan an attack of some sort against the school. they dress up in all sorts of bright and tacky clothing and each class plans a different strategy. last year, they kidnapped several of their favorite teachers and staged a trial where each teacher was found guitly of some crime against the students. then the students gave the teachers clever and embarrassing punishments. for example, the principle had to learn a dance to a kylie minogue song and perform it for the school. this year the students came into the morning assembly acting like monkeys and handing out bananas to the teachers. they've spent the last few hours running around with water guns trying to get everyone wet.

what a day to be back. i'm loving it. will post pictures soon. (may 24th, 11:49 p.m. posted pictures).

15 May 2006

does virtual equal real?

well this is it. my last night in DC for a good few months. the next time i check in with you all and post an entry up here i will most likely be trekking across europe. i have to disconnect my internet now. i'm going to feel so disconnected from the world. funny how getting rid of the virtual realm makes me feel like i'm losing my connection to the real world. it should really be the opposite, right? i should feel more connected to the world this way. strange how things work in the modern world.

14 May 2006

my wedding

solange informed me today of a quiz that is floating around on the internet called "how suitable are you to marry me?" the quiz was written by a guy we know named neissan. he said that if a girl scores more than 80%, she should feel free to contact him. no pressure.

i scored 82%. i guess i have found my husband. all i need now is consent.

for more interesting comments on this quiz, please visit the blogs of rox and ruha. and please tell me you were all as disturbed by this as i was.

12 May 2006

race to the finish

i have exactly six hours to pack up my life. this is the state of it at the moment.

11 May 2006

the story unfolds...

last night i saw meredith. she recounted the whole hospital adventure for me from her point of view. i must say--i'm more disturbed now than i was before.

apparently she saw the second spinal tap procedure looking through the window of my trauma room. when i got sedated after the first time, the nurse told her i'd be asleep for a while and said she could come back in an hour. but when she came back, they wouldn't let her in. she watched from outside the room until someone asked her to leave. one nurse gave her a phone number she could call to find out if i was still there or when they would let me go home, but when she called they wouldn't answer any of her questions.

i'm not going to go on, because it's truly too disturbing. i'm actually glad i wasn't in her place throughout the whole adventure. at least i was knocked out for a significant part of it.

10 May 2006

music WHAT?!

so...martin told me i have to make my post today really good, because apparently it will be "getting a lot of traffic." that's a lot of pressure...i'll see what i can do.

i'm back in the real world now--back on campus, that is. and it is certainly straight back into the swing of things. i just got back from a meeting with my statistics professor.

i got a phone call from my sister in haifa. unfortunately i was meeting with my professor so she had to leave a voicemail. nevertheless, it has been months since i've heard her voice, so it was really nice to hear from her. love you, rox!

in other news, my university is in a bit of a pinch. there is a budget gap of $8.2 million for the 2006 fiscal year. now i ask you: how does the university with the highest tuition in the country (with the tuition rising each year) have that big of a budget gap? well, one reason is that they are using the tuition of the current students to pay for a new building on campus which will be called square 54. the best part is--square 54 will be everything EXCEPT academic! it will be for residence, commercial use, and food places.

ok ok, so what does a budget gap have to do with me? well, when the university has such a large gap, they have to cut the budgets of different departments all across the university. the columbian college of arts and sciences (CCAS) has to make $700,000 worth of cuts to its academic departments. here's where it gets touchy: the music department is being targeted.

starting next year, students without a "close affiliation" to the music department will not be able to take studio music lessons. so the university is basically saying, "i'm sorry, but you haven't studied music before, and a university is not the place to study something you have never studied before." (ok, maybe that's a bit extreme, but as a music major this is a touchy subject for me). this won't affect me directly since i am "closely affiliated" with the music department, but i feel a loss for any future students who might not have the opportunity to study music here.

now i ask you--and please feel free to post comments in response--is music not an integral part of a liberal arts education? if a university is going to offer music at all, shouldn't it offer lessons at the introductory level? it's as if i had come into university interested in taking an introductory sociology course. if, "i'm sorry, but you can't take sociology because you've never studied it before," was the response i received, i would seriously think twice about the motives of my university. some of the upperclassmen music majors i've been collaborating with have told me that if they had come in their first year and had to take some sort of exam in order to take a music lesson, they wouldn't have passed it and they would not currently be music majors. is this not distressing to all of you???

the university still hasn't announced exactly how much the budget for the music department will be cut, but we already know that it will be more than any other individual academic department.

the students staged a rally last wednesday. we assembled in front rice hall, the administrative building, bearing instruments. we played for over three hours, and approximately 60 people showed up to join in. we made a lot of noise (literally and figuritively)...so let's just hope we made some effect.

martin, was this good enough?

also...i'm not sure how, but rox and ruha found my blog independently. any guesses, anyone?

09 May 2006

MUS 105

i've spent this entire semester complaining to my friends that i'm taking a class called "Intro to Ethnomusicology" but I don't even know what ethnomusicology means. i am constantly complaining to them that i don't know why i am taking this class, that it should NOT be a required course, it is a waste of my time, and i am fed up with it. so for this class, instead of a final exam, our professor has assigned us a final essay. and what is the question for the essay? well, there are two parts:

a. do you think ethnomusicology should be part of the music curriculum?
b. please include a brief definition of ethnomusicology in your answer

so what do i do? should i be honest? if i decide to be honest, i might get a very bad grade (and my prof doesn't like me very much as it is). if i try to bluff it, it won't help him become a better teacher in the future, plus it's just wrong. so here's what i did....i sugar-coated it. as it turns out, my skills of being able to write about absolute crap came in handy.

in summary, my answer explained that i spent most of the semester not understanding what ethnomusicology is, but it was at the end of april when we had a special guest speaker that it finally became clear. i said that in retrospect, everything was very important, but it was hard for me to see it at the time because i didn't really understand what ethnomusicology was.

.....yeah basically i wrote a bunch of bull. we'll see how this turns out.

08 May 2006

sedatives and fetal positions

i'm in maryland staying at my amu-joon bozorg's house. for those of you know don't speak persian, amu-joon bozorg means big uncle. why am i in maryland staying with him in the middle of finals? why am i not in DC on campus? well it all started saturday night....

i couldn't sleep because my neck was sore and i had a terrible headache. my headache kept getting worse, and i called my friend meredith to come over and rub my neck. unfortunately she wasn't on campus, but she was really worried about my aching head and proceeded to call the campus emergency telephone number on my behalf. around 3 a.m. a UPD officer showed up at my door asking me how i was feeling. when he saw how severe my headache was, he called EMerg, our campus emergency medical response team. they showed up a few minutes later. they asked me a bunch of questions which i can't even remember and then took me to the emergency room at GW hospital. (i added this pic 5/29 so that i could have a pic on my profile. don't mind it.)

the ER waiting room was pretty busy and there were about four announcements for trauma victims requiring immediate attention within the first 20 minutes we were there. luckily meredith was there with me to fill out all the paperwork. i was hiding under a blanket the whole time because i was so sensitive to light. it was pretty incredible that i was taken in in less than an hour. to my surprise, i was led into a private room and asked to change into a hospital gown. i later found out that the private room i was in was a special room for airborne illnesses because the doctors thought i had meningitis.

they gave me a mask to wear, and all the doctors and nurses who came in were wearing masks as well. i was asking for pain medication, but instead i got a CT scan. eventually they gave me a saline drip through an IV to rehydrate me. the CT scan came up normal, which meant that the next step would be to do a lumbar puncture, colloquially known as a spinal tap. they first had me sitting up with my arms and head leaning forward and resting on a headrest in front of me. they told me it wouldnt hurt because they injected a local anesthetic. it was the most painful thing i have ever experienced. i could feel the needle inside my spine searching around for the fluid. and no matter how much i screamed in pain the doctors wouldn't stop. i eventually got extremely nauseated and yelled out, "i think i'm going to throw up!" so they took the needle out and gave me a sedative and said they'd be back later to try a second time. i soon fell asleep.

when i woke up, meredith was gone, and an entirely new set of doctors had come in to do the spinal tap procedure again. this time, they had me curl into a fetal position on my right side. i begged them not to do the procedure again. i pleaded that there must be an easier way. they said this was absolutely necessary. they sedated me so i would stop protesting and held me in the fetal position. any time i tried to move or say something, they would just hold me in place and tell me to breathe deeply. the deep breathing increased the pain so much more. this time, i could actually feel the suction of the needle inside my spine. i felt so powerless over the doctors. they started just ignoring what i was saying and didn't respond to me at all. after having gone through intense amounts of pain and screaming, the doctor pulled out the needle and said he needed a longer one. i protested so much to the doctors that they agreed to not do the procedure a third time.

they gave me some more sedatives and i went back to sleep.

i woke up and my friend jenny was in the room with me, wearing a mask. several hours later when they released me i had to sign a form releasing the hospital from any liability that might result from them not being able to complete the necessary procedures.

looking back, i don't think it was anything more than just a really bad headache.

so now i'm in maryland at my uncle's house, recovering from the whole episode. i'm more emotionally shaken up than anything else. the whole event really pushed me to reevaluate my life and health. the spinal tap procedure felt so intrusive, and i had no control over the doctors. they wouldn't listen to me--they just sedated me.

my friends and family have been extremely supportive. roxanne, my sister, sent me a very funny e-card. solange, my other sister, emailed all my professors to give me extensions on my final assignments. amelia, as always, acted as my resident mother in asian form.

but i still have a strong shudder of fear every time i think about being curled up and sedated in that fetal position, completely helpless to do anything.