Monthly Archives: January 2010

My 5

So here are 5 random things that I either discovered or really enjoyed this past month. I urge the rest of you to check them out.

1) Castle:Not just another cop show, it’s about a crime writer (Richard Castle) helping the NYPD solve crime.  The writing is amazing, just when you think they’re going to fall back on cliches they surprise you. There’s sexual tension between Nathan Fillion’s Castle and Stana Katic’s Kate Beckett, but the show isn’t constantly hitting us over the head with it. At this point the writers are showing us a truly beautiful friendship developing between them.  The writers also allow the police (Beckett’s team, Esposito and Ryan) to be intelligent and observant, they’re good at their jobs–Castle doesn’t need to solve the crime for them.
Whoo

2) Whip It! : It’s a coming of age story about a girl, Bliss Cavendar, from a small town in Texas. Her mother wants her to be a pageant queen, constantly reminding her that youth and beauty are fleeting. Bliss wants out of the town, and away from a destiny as Susie Homemaker. She ends up joining a roller derby team in Austin; she makes some cool, older (sometimes wiser) new friends, and really finds something to fall in love with.
Meet Babe Ruthless.

3) Cheryl Cole’s Boys: Now let me tell you this is one difficult track to get a hold of if you’re stateside. It’s penned by Adele, and is the B-side on Cheryl Cole’s single 3 Words. It’s a catchy and relatable song about girls falling for guys’ bullshit and ultimately getting a broken heart.

4) The Jersey Shore: One of the more controversial shows to hit the air in a long time. An old school “Real World” type reality show, where 8(and then 7) guidos and guidettes must live, and work together on camera. I initially avoided the show, not wanting to get sucked into trash television. I ended up catching the third episode (the one with the infamous punch) one night and fell in love with the cast. They’re probably the most “real” reality show cast we’ve had in years. They’re a group of funny, observant twenty-somethings who are learning the same lessons we all are. My only hope is that fame won’t go to their heads, and when we see them in the 2nd season they’ll be just as lovable and interesting as before.
GTL Baby!

5) Jwoww: I know she’s not one of the three JS cast members we see on late night TV, but she’s my fave. This is one ride or die chick. In a world where girls have no problem selling each other out, and not backing one another up, it was refreshing to see a young woman be there for her friend. She was one of the first people to come to Snooki’s defense after some asshole took a swing at her. Jwoww constantly made sure her friends were OK. If someone had a problem with her girl, you can bet your ass she was there to help out. She seemed to genuinely care about her amigos.
She ain't no Holla Back Girl

I’m holding out for a shero.

During the holiday season I re-watched the first and second seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Back in the day I was a huge Buffy fan. Actually I was a fan of any woman who could kick ass and save the world. Recently I was discussing Buffy with an acquaintance, when she complained about the lack of heroines on television today.  I pointed out that Ziva David from NCIS was a powerful woman.  She argued that Ziva often acts “like one of the guys,” and therefore wasn’t a good example of a modern-day shero.

Unfortunately the conversation ended soon after, so I couldn’t really explore her statement. I started wondering if our heroines need to be “girly” in order to be role models. Is being “one of the guys” some how admitting that femininity is weak? Can a heroine be extremely feminine,  have mostly masculine qualities, or is she easier to relate to if she has a mixture of the two?

I look back at Buffy, who throughout the show epitomized the idea of a girly girl. Joss Whendon admits that he based the character of Buffy on the idea of the hyper-feminine girl in the horror film who ends up being killed by the monster/serial killer. He decided he wanted to turn that idea around, have the girl fight back, and even defeat the big bad.

When we meet Buffy, she’s not exactly the girl we would pick as our crime fighter(if only the title hadn’t given her away). She’s not a dominant force like Xena traipsing through Greece in a leather ensemble with a metal breast-plate, and a multitude of weapons.  Nor is she Wonder Woman, transforming from unassuming girl with a day job into costumed female capable of heroic feats.  No, Buffy enjoys cheer-leading, she’s stylish, she cares about breaking a nail and she’s boy crazy. To bring the point home, in the first season finale she killed the Master in her prom dress (and heels).

At the time of Buffy‘s début, it was refreshing to see someone with her characteristics fighting the forces of evil.  However, there were multiple times when Buffy represented negative qualities  associated with being female. Take her romantic relationships, whenever she started seeing someone new, she was willing to sacrifice her friends (to a dangerous extent) in order to have a boyfriend. In the second season after her vampire boyfriend loses his soul and goes on killing spree, she wants to restore his soul primarily so she can get her boyfriend back. This pattern is later repeated in her relationships with Riley and Spike. She’s occasionally called on it, but never really hones in on the actual problem. Buffy takes the criticism as  her friends being jealous they can’t spend time with her, instead of what it really is; she makes bad choices so she can keep her “steady.”  In fact it’s rare (after the 1st season)to see Buffy happy when she doesn’t have a boyfriend. I understand this  makes Buffy a flawed character(and therefore accessible) but she never really learns, or grows as a person in that respect. So while it’s great that she can defend herself from a gang of vamps, her sense of self leaves a lot to be desired.

Ziva has also made bad decisions when her love life became entangled with her work. Take the fiasco with Michael, she repeatedly ignored Tony’s concern that Michael wasn’t who he appeared to be (which apparently was a rogue Mossad Officer). However, Ziva had to come to terms with her big mistake.

I suppose in some respect I can understand how my acquaintance found Ziva to be less feminine than other heroines; she is rarely openly emotional (but I don’t know many women who would want to be in the workplace), and isn’t easily shocked by DiNozzo’s pervy comments/behavior (which usually ends with her making fun of him).  Granted I don’t think this makes her any less of a woman, instead it acts as a reflection how woman have evolved socially throughout the decade.  Just because she and Tony bond over Maxim, doesn’t mean she can’t have “girl talk” with Abby. When it comes to her fighting ability and being able to handle dangerous situations, these characteristics do not come into play. So does it make her less of heroine because she prefers trousers over dresses? I seriously doubt it.

At the end of the day, there are still plenty of independent women being represented on television. There’s one gem I suggest you look up, Castle‘s Kate Beckett. She’s pretty much everything you could want in a shero; she’s smart, funny, observant, compassionate, capable of taking care of herself (and others), she makes mistakes, and learns from them.  As for the superficial side of things…she’s one hot–stylish mofo.

Express Yourself…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything poetry-wise. There have been  lines and stanzas compiled in a notebook, but nothing solid. It’s been 6 crazy years since I started the journey as a poet. I look back and think of how easy it seemed to get something down, to make it a poem.  When I look back at those pieces from my first and second year as a creative writing major, well I tend to keep them at the bottom of the stack. So, just because it was easy doesn’t mean it was good.  Don’t get  me wrong, there are some that I’ve carefully edited, and reconstructed over the years; I’m proud of those few.

There was one poem I found right after I signed up for my first creative writing class, that really made me want to pursue poetry. I used to use this poem as a standard that I measured my poems against. Even as late as 2007, I would go back to this piece to analyze what I liked about it. What made it work  as a poem, and what I could do to get my work to include those things that made me want to read it over?

I thought I would post this poem during my writing dry spell to see if it sparked any new ideas. Maybe it won’t, maybe it’s not as shiny as I once thought it was. It’s a piece that I love though, one that I find myself returning to every year.

His Name Is Arash

He is my cousin.
I do not know him.

Pictures flash in my mind:
You are three and I am two.
We stand in the gardens behind Mumangee’s house.
Red and orange flowers surround us,
two dark-haired, black-eyed Persian kids holding hands.
I wear a white jumper with Raggedy Ann embroidered below
the collar. You wear brown shorts and an orange Roy Roger’s
t-shirt. We, two Iranian cousins
already Americanized.

You used to hold me close, your little brown arms
surrounding my chubby pale body.
You would say, “My Sarah,”
two of the few words you knew in English,
expressing your Persian thoughts.
Of course I was yours, I was your first girl cousin
and should become your wife.
No one bothered to tell you that
my parents had American plans for my marriage.

Fate twisted with us, Arash:
As children, you were an orphan,
your father the first Iranian soldier to die fighting Iraq,
your mother left to raise you and
the baby girl growing in her stomach.
As Childhood playmates we ran in the gardens and
begged for grapes and
chattered in Farsi.
You even learned to communicate like me.
Did you know that in three short years in America
I would lose my Farsi,
my ability to talk with you?

Where did you think I went those first few weeks?
My family and I fled our country,
afraid of the militant Islamic law invading Iran,
and found a free life here,
where I never had to wear a chador.
I don’t remember those first few months,

but I know I missed you.
And now, sitting at my $26,000-a-year college,
surrounded by food and heat,
I wonder how you felt.
Did you cry for me? Did you think I would come back?
Who did you play with?
When did you forget your English?

Fate twisted with us, Arash:
You were orphaned as a child, I as a teenager.
When my Baba died, I wanted desperately to talk to you.
You called, too, when he was sick.
I remember handing him the phone.
When I answered and heard the Farsi,
I could say nothing.
I sat in the living room and heard my desert-eyed father crying.
He told me what you said.

You’d been to mosque, and said to Allah,
“You took my father, Allah, please don’t take my uncle too.
Please don’t take the father of my Sarah.”
And even though I can barely say ‘how are you’ in Farsi,
I can hear your voice telling him that.
Your words made him survive a few days longer.

The last I heard of you, Arash, you were jailed.
You were seen holding hands with a girl,
breaking a sacred law in Iran.
I pretend that you sat in jail and watched t.v.,
but I know that you were tortured for two months.

I’m sorry Arash.
I’m sorry I left you seventeen years ago,
in the red and orange gardens of Mumangee’s house,

without a hand to hold.

–Sarah Azizi, 1997

ETA: “without a hand to  hold” is part of the last stanza but the spacing is messed up. I’ve tried fixing it several times.

“I ain’t missing you at all!”

On this week’s The Jersey Shore, the roommates talk to Mike (aka The Situation) about his behavior. The main complaint is that he’s changed. He’s not the person they originally thought  he was. He’s become more dickish and “in your face” about things. They miss the guy they first met. Keep in mind this was filmed in a months time–so maybe the Mike they met was a front, and this is the real deal.

This episode got me thinking about the friends who’ve pulled 180’s to the point where if I  met the today I know I wouldn’t want to be friends with them. Looking back there are times when I wish I had the balls the JS crew had to confront those friends. I regret not telling them their foolish ways were off-putting.

I’ve been thinking about my former roommate, and how in our entire year of living together there were these fleeting moments where she’d let people see how amazing she was. I remember just before Christmas that year I stayed at her family’s house. We watched stupid movies, gorged on holiday treats, and danced around to crappy pop music. I know if I were to stay with her today, those things wouldn’t happen. It would be awkward.

I’ve talked to our other ex-roommates as well. Each of them noticed as time went on the vivacious person she could be, eventually disappeared. She’s been replace by something selfish, overbearing and fake. I wonder how many of us mourn the loss of who she could’ve been.

At the end of the day we hope that we get better with age. For most of us this is the case. But what about those around us who let their negative qualities take over?  Do we sit by and pray that one day they’ll  have an epiphany? Do we stage an “intervention” like The Shore housemates did with Mike? Is it ever too late to let a person know you miss the old them?

Who are you?

A couple nights ago, on her talk show, Chelsea Handler stated “as soon as New Year’s Resolutions are made they will most likely be broken.”  For the past 9 years I have believed the same thing and have refused to make any plans come the new year.  It’s not that I don’t agree with the concept of  the NYR, it’s just I have rarely seen this time period as one for “reinvention” of who I am v. who I want to be.

Back when I was in high school I used the summer time to get fit, maybe get a tan (which rarely happened), and acquire a whole new wardrobe. It seemed that I always had this plan to get to who I wanted to be.  Come September, I felt ready to debut the “new” me to my friends.

I participated in extracurricular activities, some that I actually enjoyed and others that were meant to look good on a college application. Everything was done to construct this persona. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t “the brain,” or the girl with purple hair. It was never about being those people, I knew my capabilities.

To some extent I clung to crafting an image my freshman year at uni.  That year I had this instructor who was smart, stylish, funny…basically everything I aspired to be (when I reached her age). Yet, my attempts to reach that goal were failing. I was suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism and PCOS (and that didn’t get diagnosed until two years later), so I just gave up.

Slowly, over the past few years I’ve started taking time to figure out who it is I want to be. It’s a fluid idea and timing is everything. I am at a turning point, the end of an age.  I am on the brink of a new beginning, why not take a chance and maybe “reinvent” myself again?