Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I may or may not have spent the weekend at home with my fuzzfaces.

The last couple of days have been interesting. I woke up because I had to barf at early o'clock Sunday morning, shouted at my doctor Monday morning, and got back to campus in time to discover my class was canceled.

Now I just need a snow day.

Spring break in 2 weeks, ya'll! I've got a 6 page paper to write before then for a class where I don't take notes or do the readings. I am good at BSing, though.

My sister will be in Florida, I will be chez moi, playing with puppies and watching Jeopardy with my mommy. Yeah, I am that awesome.

Saturday, it was nice, so I sat outside to finish Maximum City (good book, but he's so blase about meeting SRK! And Hrithik and and and!) and had Wickett claim my lap. Mom looked out the window and thought he was quite ridiculous looking.

Mikey was jealous, as is his wont.

Dixie sat in the sun, rolled on her back, and enjoyed life, as is her wont.

Wickett let me pet him then yelled when I moved because he is a silly little brat and I miss him.

Getting the F over one's self.

Yesterday, my mom got lost. (For any relatives who still stick around, take a minute to go "Duh.")

She saw an international grocery store, and it said things like "Arabic" and "Indian" on the front window (along with Russian, Greek, so many countries!) and she knew I'd be excited.

I was. Especially since it's not far from my school.

My school is half in and half out of the bad/poor/black/poor black part of town. My white friend lives in a neighborhood filled with huge old growth trees and old postwar houses (some have these amazing pre-AC deep porches that make me want to become an architect. I'm weird) and lots of crime.

The grocery store is in that part.

Mom and I may have been the only white people in there, I was too busy looking for Bollywood DVDs only to be disappointed because my Arabic isn't that good and I forgot to check if they have English subtitles, something to look for next time!

The woman at the check-out was light skinned with an accent (from Ohio, I think she admitted that our winter was cold *Memphis snow day pride!*) and she didn't look at me like I was some weirdo for being white and buying something. I did, however, regret my 50 pounds of pennies when I learned they don't take cards. Mom ran out to get some cash.

I bought hummus and baklava. Someone brought hummus to my anthropology class last semester (3 hour night class, snacks about an hour in) and I loved it! I found the brand at Kroger, even in Tipton County. (Locals, locals, locals are you with me? Someone fetch the smelling salts!)

But then I read that the stuff here doesn't hold a candle to the real stuff. I remember the hummus from this cheap middle eastern restaurant, and bought the only container they had. It's decorated nicely with spices and ... green leaves? I am an American wuss and don't like it.

Oh well.

Anyway, to the title.

My sister went to the Wal-Mart in Raleigh by herself Friday evening, and felt so out of place because she was the only white person there!

When I went to the mall with her, she wouldn't let me go in a clothing store because it was for black people (bright colored t-shirts know no race!).

I always wanted to go back and go in there and find something pretty, but the malls are far away.

I don't think I'm the only white person at Bollywood movies, but when I arrived early for "New York" this summer, the only other people in the lighted theater were Indian. They wanted to make sure I was in the right place. (The movie was not advertised anywhere in the theater, you had to be in the know.)

I remember thinking about being the only white face at Dehli 6 a year ago, mostly because it was a 7 or 8 pm weeknight showing, and they wouldn't let us in the theater! So it's a bunch of Indian people and a girl in a Stanford hoodie (open so her SRK shirt shows) milling around. I felt more out of place because I was alone, and the themes in the beginning of the movie stressed family and friends.

My mom and I don't always see the same way on race, and my sister and I will never see eye to eye, but as we were driving through the old neighborhoods (not old money neighborhoods), she was talking about living there. (The porches! I love me a good porch!)

Maybe it was her time in Japan, maybe it was the military that opened her mind, because she is quite tolerant of my desire to wander through places like the international grocery store and that one in Knoxville, we looked for brands from Japan and I looked for the ones advertised on Bollywood DVDs. And with the Pepsi Throwback out (it has sugar, which improves the taste according to former Pepsi addict Mom), we are looking at foreign sodas. I got an orange one at a Mexican restaurant a couple weeks ago - no HFCS.

The one pity in all this? Neither of us are coffee drinkers (she likes the chocolate confections with a dash of coffee) so we can't test Arabic coffee! It's supposed to be stronger.

They not only had Nutella, they had other brands of hazelnut spread, oh drool.

Anyways, my point is be aware of your surrounding, but if you (and a companion) are the only whatevers in a group, get over it. Maybe you'll learn something.

Of course, my friend and I ate at some sub place a couple weeks ago, and she was like, "Kaitlyn, we're the only girls here." My response? "Stop taking us to gay bars, Elizabeth, and this won't happen!"

So yeah. Maybe it is white privilege that lets me wander around a Middle Eastern grocery in the poor part of Memphis (I haven't tried that baklava yet... this will be my third try. I keep hoping for the nirvana others talk about. Damn that stuff is rich!) um where was I going?

Happy Black History Month, ya'll!

I'm not going to the Civil Rights Museum because I cry and cry when I go, though I stop to gape at the conspiracies surrounding James Earl Ray (something ain't kosher, but still) and then continue crying. I don't know why.

I also cried during a video about the design of the Vietnam War memorial, but that was last semester which was an emotional roller coaster, so it may not count. But when I think of the memorial - of going there old enough to appreciate it - I start getting teary. And I lost no one in the fight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Assamese Song

I'm sorry I don't have any more information.

I think it's Assamese. That's all I've got.

Information about Assamese movies and music is very hard to find. Hindi? A breeze. Tamil? Still easy. Telugu? Yup. Kannada? A bit harder. Punjabi? Not too hard. Malayalam? A bit harder - and it doesn't help that spelling changes a lot, especially for non-Hindi films. (I'm sure they're spelled one way in Tamil/Telugu/Assamese/etc, but when they're transliterated, it all goes out the window. How many letters is needed?

I am feeling a bit stressed, because I am staring down the barrel of my own health insurance in about 18 months. If I go to PT tomorrow and they say yes, they think they can help, I could be seriously SOL. Not because I don't want it to work, but because it takes time, especially with something as murky as "feminine" problems possibly coupled with abdominal wall pain. So 6 months - no more pain! Or, er, try again? Except in 6 months, I'll be a year away from health insurance and the end of college (I hope). I won't have time for alternate ideas, like a hysterectomy. I can do one this summer, no problem. I don't think I'd have time next winter break (only 4-5 weeks), and next summer, I'd still be insured until August, except I can't have a lapse in coverage unless I'm incredibly rich, due to all my prescriptions, which require at least yearly visits to specialists. Oh well, with no insurance, I won't need referrals, so I can go straight to the specialist.

I seriously hate this country's medical industry. Health insurance should not be tied to your job (and your worth as a person shouldn't be tied to it either, but that's for another day) and the words "pre-existing condition" should not exist. Yes, I'll cost you money. No profit on the Kaitlyn file!

And since I hate this country, I'd love to move (except no more Netflix, first world sacrifices are hard) but what do I have to offer to Canada or the UK? Or Japan or France? Or any g-d country that takes care of its citizens? The quickest way to immigrate seems to be through work.

Let's look at that - I'd have to get a job and be good enough that they'd consider sending me overseas. I may get insurance (with high premiums) through this job. I can't work unless my pain is stable, and my pain isn't legally stable without insurance (or a lottery pay out).

Yes, I am an ungrateful little socialist brat. Most people have health insurance through work (their's, their spouse's, their parents) so they don't care. "I got mine, Jack, eff off!" I'm also selfish - "I DON'T got mine, Jack, help!" But by helping me, millions of others would get help.

I voted for Obama, so if I vote D in the midterms, I'll get insurance. (Of course Ds in Tennessee makes Rs look Democratic.)

So I've said it - I hate this place, I want to move. A little assistance, please? I mean, you'll be glad to be rid of me, since I'm such an ungrateful little commie.

It's really in all our best interest if I'm deported as soon as possible. My mom was in Canada and Japan before I was born, and I lived in Italy and Iceland as a child - pick one! Canada is my first choice, thanks!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Name Is Khan partial review

I'm terrible with reviews, we all know that.

And I can't talk about My Name is Khan as a whole without spoiling it, plus I'm never sure what is and what is not a spoiler, so here are my thoughts on what worried me the most going in. (Not terrorism, terrorism in America, or immigrants in America - that's been done so many times in Bollywood.)

The title character has Asperger's Syndrome (AS). The director is Karan Johar - I've seen most of his movies and love them (Dostana is hilarious, though clearly in a parallel America where a man in a military uniform can admit to being gay!), but other people paid to review films don't always love his movies. They are emotionally manipulative, and subtle as a two by four upside your head. But some things don't need to be subtle. Plus, (for me) it was a good cry. I identified with these fictional characters and cried, I didn't have flashbacks to bad times like I did with Taare Zameen Par (which dealt with dyslexia).

Anyways, this will be the third time I've posted these comments. I originally posted them in the Chatterday open thread at FWD because another commenter asked for my thoughts.

Then I c&p'd it for Bollywhat when someone asked in the spoiler thread how AS was treated.

I haven't read professional reviews, but I have read what other members of BollyWHAT have said about the movie. It's not universally loved, but everyone loved SRK's performance and the problems in the movie have nothing to do with AS and how it's portrayed, but other things.

Here is what I wrote soon after seeing it:

Onto the Asperger’s Syndrome. Rizvan Khan (SRK) takes the time in the first half to introduce himself to the people at Mandira’s (Kajol) job – this is what he has, this is who it’s named after, he is not “pagal”, he is smart. At one point, Mandira tells him to stop with this “loop” and the “encyclopedia.”

He takes things literally, which is why he’s doing what he’s doing – he can’t go home until he does what Mandira tells him to do. (which comes after a heart wrenching scene – so quiet in the theater) He hates the color yellow and loud sounds. He also repeats what people say when he can’t come up with something himself (especially related to emotions) or he reverts back to the encyclopedia.

He can repair almost anything, so his “genius” overshadows his brother, resentment, etc, but his mother loves him and gets him a private tutor because the other students at school are jerks.

We see two tools he uses so the world isn’t too much – ear plugs, of course, but a video camera, because as his SIL tells him (she teaches psychology and gets him an official diagnosis), it’s like the world is on TV, so it won’t be so scary. (This is soon after he moves to America, San Francisco, noise people noise!)

What was really touching was the disclaimer at the beginning – something like this is not the definitive behavior for AS, this is a fictional story about one man.

He is not cured, he does not “overcome” his disability, and he is the main character, he does not teach those around him to “live life to the fullest.” He does help people, but not because he’s autistic, but because he helps them. By doing things. Like… *drumroll* anybody else!

So there were some iffy moments (so much jammed in the last 30 minutes) but overall, a great movie and I think a great representation of somebody with Asperger’s.

And I thought it would be cool to put a kind of review on my blog.

The bolded part is the most important to me - PWD are inspiring just because they have disabilities in most pop culture narratives and movies. Rizvan is inspiring because of what he does, because of what happens to him, but not because he has AS.