Worth the Wait: Wonder Woman, an inspiration! 

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When I entered the theater to see Wonder Woman I didn’t know my expectations would be exceeded so much. This movie I declare as a remarkable hit and has great life lessons beyond the magic of the theater. The movie Wonder Woman was so inspirational and absolutely brilliant. I was completely blown away, from the beginning where young Diana begins her training to going to the front to save people from suffering in the world to end all wars once she grows up and is faced with real danger. Not just because it shows woman kick butt. But because of how the iconic character of Wonder Woman brought to life by Gal Gadot. The dialogue was really well done, and Chris Pine was able to create a great character in Steven. His pack of misfits that he brings on the journey are also well developed. The movie is packed with action and brilliant cinematography. The scenes with the bath from Diana’s native land, juxtaposed with the battle scenes later in the film show the remarkable range this movie has. It’s extremely witting, intelligent, and entertaining. She says, “I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves”. In this way and many others, Diana shows cunning, caring, and strength. When she is questioned, she says “I am man.” This sends a powerful message to all women about the strength that we do have as women that we need to embrace and harass to make the world a better place. Just because we cannot save the world like Wonder Woman because we don’t have her powers, doesn’t mean we can’t still to great things as regular people making a difference as strong, courageous women. The work that is so often done by men is done by one woman in this movie, and it demonstrates how that can translate to real life. We need to ignore those who believe we can’t and prove them wrong with actions, like Wonder Woman does over and over. It goes without saying that I say, Wonder Woman is a 100% worth seeing! I give it two thumbs up!

The “Jewels” of Judgment: Reading Lolita in Tehran

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In the midst of daily talks about terror threats in our everyday lives, comes a story about an Iranian woman, Dr. Azar Nafisi, who is the heart of the story Reading Lolita in Tehran. Through an informal, sarcastic tone maintained throughout this book, a series of accounts from her troubled life in the Islamic republic frequently boil to the surface. Although politics is something that Dr. Azar Nafisi herself acknowledged as corrupt, she never seemed prepared for the utter and immediate toll it took upon her friends and people she knew such as her father, who was persecuted under the vindictive regime. Despite refusing to wear the veil that caused her to lose her job, she came in greater contact with her emotions. Using these new unexpected passions Dr. Azar Nafisi formed a secret group of students who were bound together through their vigorous studies of fiction.

In the exuberance of the novel, two types of characters emerge. The characters are those within the book and those fictional characters within the novels. The personalities are as diverse as the four seasons. Nima, Nassrin, Manna, Mahsid, Yassi, Azin, Mitra, and Sanaz are to me like the members of a secret “breakfast club”. They do not meet for breakfast per say but their explosive personalities and comments and well as their beliefs about the regime forever change their teacher (Dr. Azar Nafisi) and themselves. Sanaz has a need for approval. Nima, the sole male, wanting very much to get into the club displays a new way of male behavior. Yassi confesses that an uncle molested her, however Nima seems to be of a different generation; one which respects women. Mahsid does not make it to the end. Each girl had something to bring to their meetings. An experience, a comment, a vision that the others used to get through these hard times.

However it is not their individual personalities but common struggles that unite them as one. Some were jailed for bogus charges like make-up on, running, and some talked of being reprimanded for “eating their apples too seductively”. This novel is another demonstration of the way in which women are oppressed through out history even in the 1980’s and 90’s. Using Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Jane Austen novels Nafisi teaches the students of Western heroines and how their oppression relates to that of Islamic women. For example the antagonist Humbert brainwashes, kidnaps, and manipulates Lolita to satiate his sick fantasies. This is something that makes the book particularly amazing; that she makes these meetings with her students and the degree that she can relate literature of the Western world to her own world. Gatsby is someone in love with a girl he will always love, but one he can never have. Myrtle the adulterous one is a character questioned in the book. In Pride and Prejudice discussions, it would seem some girls dream to fall in love. For exposing these truths Nafisi should be praised. She is an amazing, eclectic individual who should be celebrated for her stubborn resolve to not allow the government who she is.

Nafisi also has the awful facts that surround her daily life. Daily reminders like bombs in the night. She recalls things, like her mother always being disappointed with her behavior, for Azin recognizes that she never lived up to her mother’s plans. Also, her father was the mayor and he was assassinated. Through her frightening experiences relating to the law (the bombings and constant raids in her daily life), she shares not only a knowledge of facts from being an honored professor, but a solid character of what fiction can be identified with.  Her strong beliefs she instilled within her and her comrades evoked this idea of neglecting the grave side of society and focusing on the magnificent parts of life: “… life could be transformed into a jewel through the magic eye of fiction” (Nafisi 3). People in Iran were taught to resent Western culture yet she did not. Nafisi is actually like many of her heroines, courageous beyond belief. Gatsby and Lolita are two quite different perspectives which Nafisi presents in a light of hope. Although in fiction both Gatsby and Lolita suffer unimaginable sorrow, in reality Azar evolves a candle of hope that does not vanish because of obstacles; in fact she becomes more resolute.

If not hope, then an understanding of suffering and unspoken empathy is what Nafisi attempts to project out into the world. Although her “magician” hid in the world, she did not. Sure, she hid in her apartment flat with her students but they were open with one another and shared deep reflections about the troubles they, as women felt and addressed to the professor which bound them closer. By having this almost secret society she grasps the true meanings of fiction. Occasionally, Nafisi diverts many of the problems surrounding the regime into a question of identity; she preached at first unintentionally the more profound ideas that would not soon be forgotten by any of her fellow students. Soon, they all found that they shared the same thoughts about woman’s declining role in society and it sickened them. Setting the stage for many of them would be an event much later in the memoir that left a lasting impression – the author’s moving to America.

Nafisi talks of the enormous changes, of all the things she left in Iran: the danger, the men pursuing her and mostly importantly the veil, which once represented devotion, but now a represented entrapment. She was like the Rosa Lee Parks of Iran saying, No I will not wear the veil. It is what got her fired, but also into that secret class and discovering a life that she had to smuggle. She had to smuggle happiness and her move to the states was a decision that made it seem as though she were abandoning her students.

Betrayal and dismay are two key feelings that many of her students voiced, but mentally Nafisi could not force herself to stay in this unstable lifestyle. Her thorough studies of fiction have led her to discover how beautiful life can be if you only give it a chance. This “chance” simply could not be accomplished if she stayed in a place that did not free her spiritually. As someone who cherished and loved fiction as much as she does, the coming to America was a closure that she recognized would not erase the painful memories she had to bear. The fact that she would no longer allow herself to become immersed in them was something incredible to undertake, something many people today can take with them. Learning of her story can inspire a hope in even the most desperate situations to climb out of your hole of apprehension into exuberance!

This book is truly a gem that sparkles in the night. The brilliant combination of fiction overlapping reality and the compelling stories of the oppression of women really make one think. Our author, a brilliant wonderful teacher annexed from the University of Tehran for not agreeing to wear the veil was a landmark event. It withstands the sands of time and is truly a testimonial to someone who looks fear in the eyes and said, no I am not allowing myself to be the government’s puppet. So to sum it all up, Nafisi never quite lived up to her mother’s expectations; she towered over them. It is fantastic to say that she was brilliant. However it is the girls she taught in secret whose resilience left the reader in shock. For the Middle East and Iran are worlds foreign to us. We, the spoiled, they the suffering, something this book outlines quite well. This book encompasses detail and memories and draws them into a one of a kind story.

 

Why a thesis on Love?

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This thesis is one that is close to my heart. It all started when I fell in love in fall of 2013. This was the first time I felt things that made me understand the world in a whole new way. Things suddenly changed and everything felt so alive and everything felt so sharp. Food tasted better, water felt more comforting. My entire existence seemed to change when I fell so hard. Although it was not love I got in return but malice, I wanted to chronicle loves progression in my life. I wanted to do a semester project on it, but it was too extensive to be a semester project. I decided to examine love in a deeper way and weave science into it as well. I want to take different concepts scientific and philosophical. Now, as I take on this thesis lamenting the lost love, I consider what being I love meant to me, and what being loved in return could feel like.

The Ice Inside your Soul

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When the civil rights movement was under way one woman, Rosa Lee Parks, was doing something she found to be a normal and necessary part of her day- riding the local bus. In the same way that William Palmer found going to the church in Russia to be normal and furthermore necessary in his journey, she went along her day until something changed it and her life forever. Rosa Lee is remembered and known by so many people as someone who started the fuel behind the civil rights movement. She was asked to give up her seat on the bus because of the color of her skin and rightfully so in those times, for African Americans were not allowed to sit in the front of the bus. By taking a stand, she perhaps did not realize that what she was doing what an existential visit of her mind and thereby subconsciously as well as literally saying “I count as a human being as much as anyone else on this darn bus and my being black has nothing to do with the way you behave towards me”.  It is difficult to imagine that someone would have to question who they are in such a profound manner because of the ignorance of others. It is perhaps shocking for us in the 21st century to think that just because of skin color one would be shunned, displaced, and furthermore considered less a person than anyone else. On this Earth we as humans do not have to like one another, but we do have to respect one another in order for the world to not fall into utter chaos. It is such a tiny thing to ask for but in the case of the civil rights movement, people were swept away by the simple color of one’s skin as thus had bitter, black hearts when it came to African Americans. To this day racism thrives in the minds of the ignorant, who fear others that are different than them. William Palmer was also disliked (though  not on the same scale) because he was Catholic was denied communion and through themes of religion discussed the profound effect that had upon him.

The diction of this essay is quite formal with sentences such as “George Horsley Palmer, and Archdeacon Palmer of Oxford, was one of those earnest-minded and devout men, forty years since, who, deeply convinced of the great truth that our Lord had instituted, and still acknowledges and protects, a visible Church—one, individual, and integral—Catholic, as spread over the earth.” (Newman). The words “earnest-minded and devout men” are only a sample of the formal diction that goes on throughout this essay. The essay is one about attempting to join churches so it makes perfect sense that the form would be an essay that Cardinal Newman wrote about William Palmer and his epic journey to Russia. Palmer discovers the Russians resistance and utter despising of him and his methods. It is an essay displaying what a down to earth honestly good human being Palmer is and how one piece of you does not make up your entire identity although the Russians felt that if you were Catholic you were not one of them.

“How Mr. Palmer’s appeal for such recognition of our “Anglo-Catholicism” was met by the ecclesiastical authorities of Petersburg is the main {viii} subject of this volume,” (Newman) is the content of this essay. In the way that Rosa Lee Parks was met by opposition Palmer was denied communion, which is the most sacred part of mass. He wants desperately to be recognized by the church however the Russians say “We know nothing about Unity, nothing about Catholicity; it is no term of ours; it had indeed a meaning once, it has {x} none now. Our Church is not Catholic, it is Holy and Orthodox; also”(Newman) … They are completely serious in their convictions and beliefs that not only will they deny him communion, but never will the two churches have even a faint chance of being united for they know nothing about unity. Their stubbornness is understandable but the way in which they receive Mr. Palmer is unacceptable and cold. They treat him horrible and our author cannot help himself but gush over what a wonderful person Mr. Palmer is.  The tone is straight forward explaining to us about Mr. Palmer troubles.

It is an intricate, complex topic and it is one that is always met with resistance. One’s sexual orientation, skin color, or religion are often brought into question and I believe that the things that people cause us to consider to change about ourselves is often the most interesting thing about of you. In life we are plagued by people daily who are trying to change that interesting part or part that makes us unique and stand out from the pack. Newman eloquently describes it as “at least part of that ancient teaching which they so proudly claimed as their own peculiar prerogative.” In the end I would say to them, “Who do you think you are? Running around leaving scars? Collecting your jar of hearts? You’re going to catch a cold from the ice inside your soul.” This line from a popular song by Christina Perri illustrates my point beautifully. Those in the Russian church, or even those attempting to stop Rosa Lee from getting her seat on the bus are going to do just that, catch a cold from all the negatively that they are spreading. Cardinal Newman and William Palmer understood that it was in fact too much to ask those individuals to change what is in their souls. However, they did become friends and “In consequence of this mutual good understanding, Mr. Palmer made many friends in Russia, and had no reason to regret his going there. He liked the people and country, and returned there again and again;” So really, despite the differences the theme here although the church could not be unified is unity of people.

(Thinking of him, It’s) Burning Fires

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Agony pain burning fires
In my brain
In my body
In my heart
I can’t put the fire out
Water doesn’t work
I thought I could drown it in tears
I thought I could suffocate it
With my sweater
But instead
It suffocates me.
Smoke, fire, flames bursting through my heart.
Suddenly an explosion.
My heart’s a million tiny pieces
Shattered, scattered.
I finally put the fire out
Superhuman strength appears
Strong resolve to survive
but the damage of the fire
It is overwhelming
It’s burning pain I can still feel
The shock of the smoke
Collapses my lungs
The sadness of joy turned into sparks
Sparks of absolute agony
The fire was uninviting
Torture
Truly it was the deepest level of hell
I felt pain in places I didn’t know I could
Now the charred remains will get off this train
After class
After talking to Ethan
After help from Heidi
After wisdom from Janet and Glendalyn
After tea with Bella
I walk to go shower
My charred self
Recovering what I can
Abandoning the rest
And recalling how high the flames got

And praying that no one can hurt me that deeply again…
Knowing they could.
Off to shower, drink coffee and pretend everything is fine.
Until it is.

Who I am to humanity

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Someone who cries and yells frequently, a lot

Someone whose blood is a boiling pot

Someone transfixed with what’s not

I’m violent

I’m bossy, mean

Obsessed with homework,

What I can’t have

I, selfish

I cry myself to sleep

I’m hypersensitive

Agreeing to anything is a leap

If someone screams not a peep

From me that is

You see my feeling big as the sky

Shoot them down with your hunting rifles of words

I just let the harsh remarks fly

Inside I die

I spy

I comply

I buy it

Buy into the lies

I’m a racist and a feminist though no one knows why

I’m incapable of love

I am scared of everything

I can’t sing

I’m Polish but too prou-

Wait slow down

Erase all that

Scratch it out

Burn it so I can feel the affectionate flames that compel me-

I want the ashes of the troubled “perceptions of me by humanity”

Burning in the fiery pits of hell!

This is who I really am

(No rhyme this time)

 

The complete truth

A hopeless romantic,

Who is thus romantically hopeless

I am assertive

No one will be walking all over

Me with their stinky shoes

In fact no one can touch me

Unless well, let’s see

I let them.

Maybe I can’t perform so well

But my memory bank for music and theater

Is phenomenal, swell

I love movies and music and fine dining as well

I am tolerate of all races, religions

I am concerned for the future of the world

I care for others more than myself

I’m a very Polish girl

Loves to see the sun swirl

I’m not afraid of everything

I love nature, simple things

But I’m scared of

Planes, trains

Stalkers, heights

And anything that bites

I fall asleep to my i-pod

Not tears

I’m incapable but of being loved in return which I guess is worse

I don’t buy the hype

I’m not that type

Of Woman

I’m passionate about my hobbies

I have a deep love for the world,

But am on occasion cynical

But Mostly I’m Maria.

I’m completely unsystematic and sometimes nerve wrecking.

I am what I want to be and no one or anything else.

I’m appreciating things while you still can.

This is who I am

Face it embrace otherwise

Turn around and walk away