Monday, June 29, 2009

Investigating Norma Khouri in Forbidden Lie$

Last week I started reading newly released Murder in the name of Honor by fellow Jordanian Rana Husseini. I’m somewhere in the middle and it’s a great book. I’ll save the review for a different post when I’m done. I’ll just say if it was up to me I’d read the whole book in one sitting….but unfortunately life calls.

Chapter 10 in the book titled Two Steps Back had me doing some of my own research. This chapter describes the damage that was done to furthering activism and awareness to stop honor killings by Jordanian author Norma Khouri who published a book in 2003 titled Forbidden Love. Khouri tells the story of her and her best friend who grew up in an extremely oppressive and backwards Jordanian society that eventually resulted in the honor killing of her best friend by her father. It was later established that the story was fabricated but unfortunately the revelation was after it had already gained great popularity. I’ve read about the Khouri scandal in brief on blogs before-the one that sticks out at the moment is this post from the Black Iris.

I’m not even thinking about reading this book, not for any closed minded reasons but simply because time is a limited resource and there are too many books I actually really want to read; however, I became very curious as to what would motivate Khouri to do what she did in such a brazen manner. I find it hard to believe that she’s passionate about this human rights abuse that she allegedly exposes. One thing she does seem to be passionate about is telling stories. Was her primary motive to seek fame, attention, or money? Or maybe she just has some loose screws in the head! Could she have actually convinced herself that her story sorta kinda did happen and was close enough to the reality?

Apparently many others shared those same curiosities and a group of folks decided to make a documentary out of investigating her story and exposing Norma Khouri. The film titled Forbidden Lie$ came out in 2007 and is an investigation of the story itself as well as an of its author who conned readers worldwide. You probably surfed on this post thinking you were about to read a review of the documentary you already heard about. Nope, sorry...I can't even find it!

For some reason that's driving me crazy I have been unable to access the film's official website from my connection. It's unavailable on netflix but I was able to "save" if and when Netflix bring it on board. Blockbuster online and my local Blockbusters also don't carry it. Does anyone know how I can watch this documentary?

Here's the trailer via youtube. If you got the chance to see it, what'd you think?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Don't wear cheap eyeliner and watch this movie

Make sure you wear a good water-resistant one. That's my My Sister's Keeper movie review for you. I hope you liked it.

Also if you recently lost a loved one as a result of cancer or lost a sibling, I'd hold off on watching this movie. Don't worry you're not missing out, there are some other good movies out now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Real Housewife of New Jersey rumours are true

Identity change? Crack whore? Paid escort? Drug courrier? Involved with the Columbian drug trade? Extortionist? Kidnapping a hostage for ransom? and now a sex tape? Yea apparently it's all true.

I'm one of those people that has a natural tendency to side with the underdog. I really felt bad for Danielle when she became the ostracized one of the group. Sure she was inappropriate with some of her behavior such as dating a guy 20 years younger than her, but none of those ladies were angels (maybe Jackie) and they really made her out to be a freak. I even thought of her blonde nemesis Dina as a troublemaker who disprespected Danielle in her own home.

When this book written like 20 years ago about the life of Danielle's ex-husband, a voilent drug dealer turned cop, was discovered by the other housewives Danielle found herself defending herself regarding some really outrageous tales about her past when she was known by a different name. The entertainment media of course had a circus with the new shocking discovery giving the show more attention than when Kelly Bensimon of New York was arrested for beating up her boyfriend. Anyway, the book coming out of the closet added fuel to the fire as the other housewives become more weary of her presence and regarded her as a dangerous person to even be involved with. Which she would be if those things were actually true.

During the now very famous dinner confrontation scene thanks to youtube, Danielle stated that only two things written about her in that book were true: 1) that she changed her name and 2) that she was arrested. She was arrested as an accessory to a crime and was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Silly me I believed her.

The morning following the show reunion part 1, outed her by obtaining her criminal records and publishing 26 pages for all to see. She was not arrested as an accessory as she said, she was directly involved and probably even orchestrated the whole thing. I heard it on the regular morning radio show news driving to work.

"Staub, once known as Beverly Ann Merrill, was arrested by FBI agents in June 1986 for her role in a kidnapping plot that grew out of a cocaine deal gone bad. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Miami, Merrill and Daniel Aguilar, who distributed narcotics for a Colombian drug family, sought to extort a $25,000 ransom from a man whose son they were holding."

If you haven't seen Teresa's table flip scene on youtube yet here it is. I must admit it kinda annoyed me that this is MY show that I faithfully follow and now all of these people tuned in just because some hot-headed Italian went berserko on TV. This show totally reinforced all of those New Jersey stereotypes.

Where were you when Michael Jackson died?

I was about to publish a post with the title "where were you when Michael Jackson died" however the headlines have changed to report that he is in a coma. Literally minutes ago he was reported to be dead by top news sources and the whole office forgot we are supposed to be working.

Rejoice FOBS of the world.

(I was a joke, save your nasty comments please. There's nothing wrong with being a fob).

Ok I was about to publish this but the office's breaking news is that Michael Jackson has died. In memory of Michael Jackson, what is your favorite Michael Jackson song? Mine is actually by the Jackson 5...I'll be there.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neda's Story

If you live in a cave like me this week then you have not heard of Neda Soltani's story. I caught the headline along with flashes of bloody images in the gym this morning as I was practically committing suicide on the stairmaster. Seeing the Middle Eastern name in print and the gruesome amateur footage the first thing that came to my mind was that an honor crime was caught on camera.

I plugged in the headphone to the TV portal and realized that no that wasn't the case. On June 20th at a protest in Tehran Neda Soltani got out of the car to walk and was shot fatally in the chest by an alleged militia member. Cell phone cameras caught her last dying moments which were disturbing to watch.

I don't have any original thoughts and I feel I don't understand enough of the dynamics of Irani society to comment. This post is more of an acknowledgement of the tragic loss of an innocent young life at the hands of an individual who most likely abused his power. However I wanted to point out one thing. I noticed in numerous report that Neda is being compared to civilian symbols of heroism during times of conflict such as Tiananmen Square's Tank Man, the unarmed protester who stood in front of a Chinese tank in 1989.

The most obvious and appropriate comparison that sticks out in my mind is the story of 12 year old Palestinian Muhammad Al-Durrah. Both Neda and Muhammad were unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) caught in the line of fire coming from figures of authority (soldier, militiaman). They were not there to fight, nor were they even activists. It's reported Neda didn't even vote in the recent Irani elections whose alleged outcome resulted in the uproar on the streets. Now both are being hailed as martyrs and great symbols of resistance. As fitting as it may be, we won't be seeing any such comparisons in the media in this part of the world.

May your soul rest in peace Neda Agha Soltani.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Those last few lbs: to pilates or not to pilates

In the past I've been known to make drastic efforts or substantial investments when I'm feeling not so fit with the hopes that this will be the push I need. Sometimes it's worth it, but sometimes it's really not. The problem is it's almost impossible to predict beforehand whether it's going to result in a favorable outcome or if it's just another waste of time and money.

Investing in the Tae Bo set of DVDs and accessories when I was in high school was worth it. Getting a personal trainer in my college town proved worthy, and the first time I signed up for the services of a weight loss clinic was a worthy investment. When it's not worth it I lose money and time. I'm not sure it's worth it that I got a gym summer membership. This gym isn't cheap and since I started working I've only been going like 2x a week for some workout now is nothing I can't do at home and hardly compares to the hardcore routine I was doing with a trainer. Also, it totally wasn't worth it that I re-signed up with that clinic when I felt the weight starting to come back on. My last appt with the nutritionist is this week and the second time around was a total waste of $350.

The past couple of years I lost a lot of weight and I would really like to lose 15 more pounds to reach my perfect happy place. However, since I've been home for the summer I put back on about 5-10 lbs....which isn't too much in comparison to what I lost, but it's definitely enough to make me feel yuck. Plus, it's not a good sign and it's not the direction I want to be going in.

What I'm involved in now-the gym and the nutritionist-haven't changed anything. So it's time to do something different to get me over this little bump in the road I've hit. After considering various options I'm seriously thinking about going to a pilates studio. My friend Randy started going there as part of her post-separation makeover and although it's only been a couple of weeks I've definitely seen the difference in her. Her tummy is flatter, she sits up taller, and she raves about it. Well, I wanna strengthen my core too dammit! I have a month and a half left to go back to school and it would be totally awesome to go back thinner than how I left. I think I'm getting bored with my current routine and trying something new and more challenging just might do the trick.

So what's the problem then? money honey! It's expensive and schedule-wise it's not very flexible which it should be for those prices. Before you sign up with any of their programs you have to take at least 2 private lessons to bring you up to basics and make sure you know what you're doing. Those lessons are 70 bucks a piece. Then you have to purchase some sort of package of classes. You can't just go in and out to take classes as you please, which makes sense....but it also makes it expensive!

I can afford pilates for my body if I start cutting some serious corners. So blog readers, what do you think? to pilates or not to pilates?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So I splurged on this dress

I needed some kind of pick me up; something to feel better about myself. I haven't been feeling too good lately nor have I been treating myself well. The month of June started off badly then kind of stayed that way. Tonight the mother hosted a ladies dinner party and as is typical of my parents she invited everyone she knew....but I so wasn't up for it. Well, the most effective solution at the moment for my "I feel like crap syndrome" was to end up in a BCBG dressing room with an arm full of dressy clothes. So I splurged on this dress:

Yes I understand it's quite a bit more expensive than the usual pick-me-up splurges such as a pedicure or an itunes album, but the minute I tried this dress on I understood exactly why Mr.BCBG designed it: Me! Even the mother said I looked beautiful, and that woman does not compliment very easily.

So what was the last thing you splurged on?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A surprise revisit from the past...

What motivates a guy to get in touch with a girl after a long period (like well over a year) of no contact? I say "guy" specifically and not "person" because I know that guys and girls tick differently; they respond to different things and are motivated by different factors generally speaking.

So why? Especially after it was really his fault and his choices that stopped a potentially blossoming relationship. Is it regret? an awakening maybe? Did he realize things after all this time of growing up that he didn't realize then? or could it just be desperation?

I thought they were supposed to be of the simpler gender, but seriousy I don't understand men!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The craziest thing you ever snuck into a movie theater

I don't have a problem with the inflated prices of movie theater snacks as much as I have a problem with the selection. First of all, I think it's the stupidest thing that movie theaters don't normally serve coffee. Coffee/espresso drinks makes perfect sense when watching a movie. Second of all, where are the chocolate covered almonds? They have chocolate covered everything else.

Third of all, it's all junk food. What if I'm not in the mood for heavy, buttery, cheesy, sugary, and greasy? Sometimes I crave healthy snacks that make me feel good to eat, especially if it's late at night, but if I'm watching a movie in a theater then I'm totally screwed. I find saltless, butterless popcorn nasty.

So last night we had no choice but to catch the latest showing of The Hangover because it's the only time Suzy could secure a babysitter (her husband when he gets home from work). I came up with this totally genious idea to overcome my movie theater food anxieties. I boiled a bag of edamame (soybean) and packed them in a large ziploc to be put in my sister's oversized purse. I was pretty sure all the girls would be excited about the edible alternative I provided. Instead, they all kinda laughed, all 7 of them lol.

Although throughout the movie I kept hearing "dude, are you serious?" I very happily ate edamame straight out of sister's purse, drank water, and used Randy's nacho box to put the peels in.

So what's the craziest thing you snuck into a movie?

Friday, June 12, 2009

The book that just won't finish

Isn't that so annoying? I've been reading Angels & Demons for like the past 3 weeks and this book just won't finish. I just can't stand reading it anymore and I really want it to finish it so that I can start a book I actually feel like reading. Thinking about having to finish this dumbass book is like giving me stress. I stil have about 100 pages to go.

It's a great book, but having read Dan Brown's other big book, The Davinci Code, I can already predict the overall plot cause authors retain their storytelling style. For example, I totally knew from the beginning who the villians were going to be (I knew Kohler was involved). I know they're going to have to solve puzzles and decipher clues, how they did it was unexciting and unsuspenseful cause I know they're going to do it and they're going to be right. I already know that they're going to stop the antimatter from destroying vatican city and that langdon isn't going to die. So it's hard to feel suspense during any of those fighting-for-his-life scene when I know he's going to make it anyway.

I'm so not in the mood, I want to read a girly book but this book is in my way. Yesterday I had the day off so I blocked out chunks of time to just speed read this book with no other side distractions. At the end of the day I resented the book even more and wanted to put Dan Brown on my hit list because I didn't go to the gym, I didn't go to lunch with my mom at her friend's house, and I only got through like 70 pages.

This book is like being in a bad relationship. It makes you miss out on living your own life. It makes you feel frustrated and it drains you. At the end of the day you have very little to show for it (70 pages??? I feel like I spent at least half the day reading!), and yet you still go back and give it another chance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tips on being a girls girl

This is in response to a couple of comments from this post. I'm no expert, but from my own experiences I can give some pointers on how to at least not be a Kelly from Real Housewives. This chick just can't make friends with any of the ladies and has to invite some trophy guy with her everywhere she goes. If she bumps into a girl she just met she'll act like she's never seen her, but if she bumps into that girl's boyfriend she'll give him the warmest of greetings. She is so fricking annoying!

First of all, you do need your girlfriends. I don't care how catty, competitive, and petty chicas can be, a life without close girlfriends (if you're a girl) is lacking. You're missing out. I look at my friend Randy for example and although she has a really strong supportive family, I know that things would be harder for her right now if it wasn't for us being there and constantly doing things with her situation in mind.

For girls that feel they are more comfortable generally around males than females, have you ever thought that this has to do with YOU and the vibes that YOU yourself are giving off? Maybe through your own guarded or defensive attitude and body language you're sending a message that you don't want to be friendly. Would you want to talk to you?

SO then, for starters you can start becoming conscious of emitting friendly and welcoming energy. Make yourself more approachable, and make it easy for you to approach others. You should be the judge of how to best do that. Maybe you should look up and smile more (and don't smile at only guys). Maybe you should learn to compliment. It's not being fake, it's being friendly.

Tip#2, make efforts! I would want to make friends with the type of girls who I feel like would be there for me so I'd click with the ones that make the time and day. Organize a girls brunch and invite people-and tell them they can bring people. I would only not invite people I really didn't like or people who I thought wouldn't mix well with that crowd. Make sure you advertise it as a girls event. I always do stuff like this when I find myself in a new environment or when I get introduced to a new group. It's a great ice breaker and the right girls will respond positively. Your efforts will be appreciated which feels good, and the invites will be returned. After you've put yourself out there naturally you'll click and form more lasting bonds with the ones you have more in common with

Tip #3, you have to actually WANT to make friends in order to make friends. You can dismiss girls as being not worth your companionship....but then that's your problem.

Tip #4, Be considerate!

Monday, June 8, 2009

You should marry me..........

I got some emails from an interested bachelor thanks to my cousin on the West coast whose been looking out for me. At work I showed it to Angela to get her opinion, we decided that other than him being irrationally prejudiced against makeup-we really like him! Angela then took it upon herself to write a reply email on my behalf. What do yall think....should I send it?

Salaam alaykum wa rahmatullah,

I think u should know that I’m hot and fun and good girl and you should marry me, I will get a few tattoos of makeup before I make that promise to you,but don’t worry inshallah once the procedures are done im going to make that promise! ;) just one more question before we end our interviews, are you really hairy? ;) ok well I am UPSing all my stuff to boston next week see you soon!

Love asoom


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Girls: you need your girlfriends

I've never understood those girls that drop their friends once they get a guy, or girls whose social lives revolve around doing things with their family and family acqaintances (how fricking boring), or even worse.....girls that don't get along well with other girls BUT as soon as you put a guy in the picture all of a sudden they turn into miss confidence. I've always been a girls girl.

Your girls are important. What you get out of your solid relationships with your girlfriends is something you don't get from your mama, your daddy, your whole family, your significant other, your guy friends, your role model or mentor, your successful career, or your achievements. You can relate to and understand each other on a unique level.

When the pops is being unreasonable, when the mister in your life is being a butthole, when you failed a test, when you gain 5 pounds, when you randomly feel lonely, when you PMS, when you HAVE to have those overpriced sandals-your girls get it!

I grew up around a really tight group of girls. There was always something going on-we were always doing stuff. Today we compare ourselves to that awesome Now & Then movie. Throughout the years we lost some members, we gained some newbies, and some of us went in and out. Sure, there have been catfights, jealousies, tensions, competitions, family issues, grudges....that all comes with the nature of such relationships. At the end of the day if you survived in our group it's all worth it because the fun and fulfillment that you experience outweighs all the collective drama-which by the way gets less and less as you get older.

I can't imagine life without a good group of girlfriends that have your back at the end of the day. Your khalto can throw you a bridal shower, but your girlfriends can put together the most creatively-themed suprise bridal shower you've ever been to. We all go on family road trips and I'm sure honeymoons are exciting, but there's probably nothing like a girls getaway to get your mind off things. When you breakup with someone your family will make sure you're safe and protected, but your girlfriends will call you at regular intervals and put together a special care package with letters they wrote telling you that you were so much better than him anyway.

With that I leave you with a feel-good montage from one of my favorite movies:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Book Queue

I'm finding it hard to make time to read nowadays and thus I've been really slow. In time for the movie, I'm now reading:

I made a mistake of visiting a used book store too soon. I picked up this:

And this:

My best friend Angela who RARELY reads for leisure fell in love with this book that she gave me and told me to read it ASAP so that me and her can discuss it:

Since then, every time I see her (pretty much everyday) I get greeted with "Did you read the book yet? Did you read the book yet? Did you read the book yet? Did you read the book yet"

"NO. I haven't even started it."

BUT I saw the infomercial for a movie the other day based on a book I've been wanting to read:

Randy read the book and yesterday I told her I'll read it before the movie comes out so that we can go watch it together.

Then I see Angela today. "Did you read the book yet? Did you read the book yet? Did you read the book yet? Fine. You know what! Give it back to me so that I can give it to someone who actually wants to read it................"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can I get a thank you? Sheeshh!!!!

I work for a non-profit relief organization until I go back to school in the fall. It's a fun, rewarding job-but sometimes dealing with some people makes me wanna go "ughhhhhhhhhh"

We recently got a private special needs grant in a limited amount to help some clients with what we termed "special needs". We made a case to try to get assistance for a handful of people with urgent needs. We obtained specific information, wrote letters on their behalf, and then presented their cases in front of representatives that disburse these grants. I was really excited with the outcome; we were able to secure more funding than we were told was originally available.

So I began to coordinate getting the clients the things they needed. For one client we were trying to get a comprehensive eye exam and new eyeglasses for her child. The amount we got for her was pretty moderate and I wasn't sure if it would be enough. I called an eye doctor who I used to work for, him and his wife run his practice and I had good relations with them. I explained the situation and they agreed to provide the necessary services for the child for the limited amount we were able to get for them. So basically they've agreed to do a favor. So not only did we vouch for this person to get her this assistance, but we pulled some strings personally for her using our contacts.

I was really excited to call her up and deliver the good news. All she had to do was make an appointment with the eye doc and show up for it, the rest is taken care of. So what kind of thank you did we get? " well um. Ok um......well fine but this is going to be have to around my work schedule."

I guess she was disappointed because she really wanted her rent paid, we don't do that lady!