23 October 2012

I'm Reading - Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Reading Lolita in Tehran is one of those books that whenever I see it I think, "Wow, I bet that's really interesting. I'm going to read that one of these days." Well, these days are here. And it is interesting, but even more impactful than that, I'm finding it more than a little bit scary. It's an insider's look at the evolution of a culture once known for the progressive roles that women played to their subjugation to a totalitarian regime.

So how does half the population lose their civil rights...their humanity...themselves? Slowly, innocently. "Mr. Bahri could not understand why we were making such a fuss over a piece of cloth,"1 in reference to one man's bafflement over Prof. Nafisi's refusal to wear a veil while teaching. Not long before she was expelled from the university, Nafisi reflects, "for a few months I had seen it coming, but I think it was that day, after I left Mr. Bahri and his friend, that it first hit me how irrelevant I had become."2 Nafisi goes on the relate that "Because of women's overwhelming objection to the laws, the government enforced the new rule first in the workplaces and later in shops, which were forbidden from transacting with unveiled women."3

"The problem for me was that I had lost all concept of terms such as home, service and country."4 Being a very active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution whose motto is "God, Home and Country," this is the sentence that made me afraid, for me, my fellow Daughters and for my country. I cannot conceive of losing the meaning of these words.

Could it happen here? Have you been to the airport lately? How many times have you been searched, felt violated, and been told "well if you have nothing to hide, what's the big deal?" Are you afraid yet? ... You should be. I no longer fly. My excuse is that I'm under doctor's orders. The reality is that I find airport operations offensive, stressful, even degrading. So why do I use an excuse? I've found that it upsets people when I tell them I won't condone the behavior of those who infringe on my constitutional rights. It's not a little thing and it's not ok. Am I caving to the pressure? By hiding behind medical advice, have I now become a part of the problem? Will we be able to show the same courage to stand for what is right that our forefathers did during the American Revolution?

1Nafisi, Azar, Readling Lolita in Tehran, (New York: Random House, 2003), p. 164.
2Ibid, p. 165.
3Ibid, p. 167.
4Ibid, p. 169.

02 February 2012

Great Reads - Rob Simbeck's Daughter of the Air

Nashville deb ferries planes for the U.S. Army. How can you not read it?

A young woman from a privileged Nashville home struggles to find her place in the world, and she does, in the cockpit of an airplane. Her career is astounding. Cornelia Fort was living in Hawaii and working as a flight instructor in 1941. On December 7, while in the air with a student, she witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor. She went on to become one of the first women of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron ferrying U.S. military aircraft around the country during World War II. Tragically, she was killed in the line of duty in March 1943. She was 24. A short, yet remarkable life.

26 January 2012

I'm reading - State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I had never heard of Ann Patchett until the news broke that she was opening a bookstore in Nashville, after the city lost two of it's biggest booksellers. Shortly after, State of Wonder popped up on one of the 10 best lists that I follow. Coincidence? Maybe, but I took it as a sign. And what luck. State of Wonder is a wonderfully written tale of pharmacologist who steps way, way outside of her comfort zone in an effort to comfort the wife of a missing colleague who doesn't believe that her husband is dead. Sometimes it pays to read a book that outside your own reading zone.

01 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

Farewell 2011. Welcome 2012! And I'm off to a very unproductive start. The flip side of that is I'm calm and relaxed, if feeling a bit guilty. I spent the day all comfy in my sweats and had a movie marathon and a rather eclectic mix it turned out to be. First up, an indulgence in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice followed by Evita, Moulin Rouge, and Sliding Doors.

This year will be a period of transition and renewal as I continue to try and figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life. You'd think I would have figured it out by now, but I'm feeling strangely unsettled. What will the new year bring?