Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reviews

I finally finished A Thousand Splendid Suns. I became sleep-deprived over it. I devoured it. I don't know what took me so long. It is incredible, heartbreaking and beautiful. Highly recommend it. I also finished The Alchemist last night and honestly, I thought it was just OK. Not bad by any means, but not even close to the same level as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I've also been watching movies lately, so I thought I'd give my recommendations of some of the memorable ones too. So, here's a sample of my Netflix queue and some theater visits over the past few months:

Slumdog Millionaire. The story of a how a boy in India knows answers on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Incredible. Again, heartbreaking and beautiful. I hope this wins the Oscar. Not that I've seen all of them...but it's amazing. And I enjoyed it much more than last year's winner - No Country for Old Men. That movie was good, but this was better, IMHO.

The Bucket List. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are dying, so they make a list of things to do before they kick the bucket. I happened to catch this movie on HBO. Bert DVR'd it, or I never would've watched it. The commercial looked so cliche'. And it is. But it's still really good. A perfect Saturday afternoon movie.

The Duchess. Keira is married to a real jerk. The story of love and longing. I used to hate period pieces, but have gotten more into them. This is not all about high tea...it's real drama and fantastic acting. Again, heartbreaking and beautiful. Hmmm...I think I have discovered the key to success in books and movies!

Music and Lyrics. Hugh Grant is a washed-up '80s singer (think Wham!) and needs to write a new song for a pop tart (think Britney Spears) who wants him to pen her next hit. I swore I wouldn't see it because the commercial for it was so awful, but my sister said it was so amazing that I needed to go home, rent it and watch it immediately. Since that conversation took place at 10pm and I was an hour from home, I passed. However, I put it in my Netflix queue. Cutesy and fun. If you liked 27 Dresses, The Holiday, etc., this will be another fun one.

The Great Debaters. The true story of a black college's debate team in the 1930s. Denzel stars and directs. Oprah produced. You can basically guess how it goes, but it's still very moving. Worth seeing.

Tropic Thunder. Run - not to the video store, but away. This movie is HORRIBLE. AWFUL. Ugh.

Burn After Reading. Get in a weird mood, Coen brothers style. Do not expect these characters to be normal. Expect them to be over-the-top and quirky. The movie is one big fat mess. It's fabulous.

Changeling. The true story of a woman whose son goes missing - and the police return a boy who isn't hers. Angelina was stellar - and I can't stand her, but I can still say this. Great movie. I hated the guy in the USA Burn Notice commercials because he's such an a** in this movie, but now I think he's attractive again. ANYWAY, this is a very powerful film. Kudos to Clint Eastwood for his superb directing.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Brad Pitt ages in reverse. Beautiful cinematography and special effects. Powerful film; stayed with me a few days. As a 20 and 30 something, Brad Pitt is gorgeous. That alone is worth going to see the movie!

Hope you enjoy...well, except for Tropic Thunder. Ugh.
posted by Anisa @ 4:49 PM | 8 comments


More About Meme

9. I love playing games. By games, I do not mean anything that is a physical game...well, except maybe bowling. I am terrible at it, but I love it. I am competitive, but have learned through bowling that you can not be good at something and still enjoy it. I also love Yahtzee, word games, trivia games, etc.

10. I would love to write a novel. This is a dream of mine - to pen a book. I even have the general plot set. To see my name on the spine of a book would be incredible.

11. Hot pink is my favorite color, but I rarely wear it. I got a hot pink iPod for graduation, but even had to think on that. I have no idea why...I guess the flashiness of it. But, I will tear up a hot pink Sharpie! Which brings me to the next point...

12. I love Sharpies. The Ultra Fine Point markers are the best. I have the pens and like those, but nothing compares to the markers. I have a rainbow of them on my desk.

13. I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again - my favorite thing in the English language are words that fit the definition of onomatopoeia. Slither, sizzle, sparkle, crackle, buzz, pop, etc. Anything that sounds like what it is.

14. I cry at Publix commercials. You know - the one where the kid asks his mom to help him make a cake for his sweetheart for Valentine's Day. And then, she takes the kid to school and says he forgot the cake...and he smiles and runs into school. TEARS. And the Christmas one where the new doctor is all alone on Christmas..no one on the train...he is on the phone with his mom, and SURPRISE! They bring Christmas to him.

15. Puppet people scare me. I hate mascots, characters at amusement parks, etc. I know it's a real condition because I saw it on Montel once!

16. I am a deeply sensitive soul, and while this can be very difficult, I have come to view it mostly as a blessing. I truly LIVE life. I feel deeply; I am not numb. My emotions sometimes get the best of me, but this also means that I love with everything in my being.

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posted by Anisa @ 3:33 PM | 0 comments


Friday, January 23, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

My friend Lindsey tagged me via email, so I thought I'd post here. I love a meme, especially on a Friday!

Rules: once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 16 people to be tagged. (I am tagging anyone who wants to do this! I love reading these!)

1. I have a crazy memory. Not only do I remember most everything, my brain is also a cross-reference for celebrities. My sister and I share this quality. For example, if I see some character in a movie, I will be able to tell you TV shows, movies, etc. they have appeared in. Just last night, moments before I fell asleep, I thought, "Was Richie on Family Matters the same as Devon on The Young and the Restless?" Although I have not seen Family Matters in several years, I still remember the kid's name was Bryton McClure...and that on Y&R, Devon is billed simply as Bryton. A quick Wikipedia search confirmed that I was indeed correct. I am aware that this all makes me slightly crazy...and that is fine with me!

2. I love really, really dark nail polish. My winter staple is Midnight in Moscow. My little cousins ask my why I wear black nail polish, but I quickly inform them that it is a deep brownish-purple with hints of red. My nail tech wants me to also try Lincoln Park After Dark. If I really search my soul, I must sheepishly admit that I started wearing dark polish after admiring Lauren Conrad's. Yes, I love The Hills.

3. I love national politics. I used to work for a Congressman and that instilled a love for national politics in me. During the Presidential election, I was glued to MSNBC and developed a mini-crush on Keith Olbermann. I love how he tells it like it is! I am a little burned out now, but am sure I'll come back to news eventually.

4. I am very regimented. My mind is a constant to-do list. Every morning, I follow the same routine of shower/make bed/put on make-up/iron clothes/put on clothes/take vitamins/pray/dry and straighten hair/grab breakfast on the way out the door. The rest of my day is very regimented, as is my pre-bed routine. My week is set also...for example, on Wednesdays during my lunch break, I clean everything in my house except bathrooms. Thursday is bathroom day. Everything has its time and its regiment. Luckily, my husband is not as anal as I am, so that helps balance me out!

5. When I cook or clean by myself, I pretend I am hosting a show. I have done this as long as I can remember! I talk to myself when I am doing this, as well as when I'm in the car.

6. As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am taking a pottery class. I went to get extra help, and I am proud to say that I have now made 6 pots! They are all very amateurish and look like something you would see in a museum that was made in 8000 B.C. Believe me...I have seen pots that old at The High Museum in Atlanta, and that was before they had wheels and all the stuff we have today to make pottery. And mine don't look any better than theirs, but hey - I've been at this less than 2 weeks, so I'm OK with that!

7. I love, love, love kids! I always have, except for a short stretch in my early 20s. I already have my kids names picked out and no, I won't tell! I have mentioned before that I am obsessed with names. I have had Baby Name books since I was a little kid. So, when it finally comes time for me to have my own bundles of joy, I will know that I have chosen their names with much thought and care!

8. I am obsessed with all things Paris. It is my dream to go, and Bert has promised it for our 10th Anniversary. Can't wait. I know I've mentioned this before on here, but truly - it is a huge dream of mine. There are several depictions of Eiffel Towers in our house (3) and I try to read things in French before reading them in English. Je t'aime Paris!

And since this is getting long-ish, I will save 9-16 for my next post!

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posted by Anisa @ 9:37 AM | 3 comments


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Terror

It has always traumatized me, but it wasn't until I saw her picture on Facebook that I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.

I was in 6th grade and spending the night with a friend. We were only eleven years old, just kids. We were playing upstairs, while her dad had told her to keep an eye out on her baby sister, who was a tiny thing and asleep in her crib. So, she was safe - much too small to get out of her crib. And we were just kids.

I remember being upstairs in the playroom with her and her dad storming in there. He beat her. I stood there, paralyzed. He was screaming and cursing about how the baby was downstairs crying and she was supposed to be watching her. I remember being scared he would hit me too. It was terrifying.

It finally ended and he left the room, as my friend collapsed in tears. I never spent the night with her again. I used to ask her about it, to check on her at school. She said she was fine, but I knew she wasn't.

And so, the other day I was browsing on Facebook. It wasn't that I saw my old friend - it was that I saw a picture of her baby sister, all grown up. I recognized her by her name. I never saw her after that day, so long ago. It was just a shock. And still, 17 years later, if I think about what happened too hard, it will make me cry.
posted by Anisa @ 10:05 AM | 4 comments


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope


"They (the founding fathers) understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. We are the keepers of this legacy."

-President Barack Obama
January 20, 2009
posted by Anisa @ 2:32 PM | 3 comments


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Think I Really Just Want To Watch TV

There are all these grand plans I have now that I'm finished with graduate school, at least for now. I want to read more, so I bought The Alchemist. Only problem is I have told myself I have to finish the last 2/3 of A Thousand Splendid Suns first. So, I keep putting it off. I don't know why. And then, I have all these other books I want to read - Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, The Tipping Point, Life of Pi and maybe even Twilight. But just MAYBE on that last one. :)

I LOVE reading. I don't know what my problem is. It just seems with trying to work out more, that sucks up time. And then, I feel like I need to keep my DVR with at least 20% room, which is ridiculous. And then there's movies sitting there from Netflix...not to mention any social plans we have. Of course, then there's also cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.. And then there's the pottery class.

Oh, the pottery class.

So, this is one of my other grand ideas: learn how to make and glaze pottery. I went to the first class Monday. I didn't have high expectations, but I had some. And, well, it was pretty awful.

My BFF from work and I went, both of us complete novices. The class was called Beginning Wheel. I confirmed with the owner of the studio that it was in fact for BEGINNERS. He said the instructors assume no prior experience. Riiiiiight.

We were supposed to be able to make these little pots after the instructor showed us ONE TIME. ONCE. If you've never done something, a one-time demo isn't going to cut it. And it didn't. And the instructor was not the nicest person in the world.

After I ruined my third attempt and my friend had stepped on her crooked pot, we were done for the night. All the while, other people were on their second perfect pot...and some were even making vases!

The instructor felt so bad for me that he made me a pot.

So, I guess my goal for this time next week is to have made my own freaking pot and have read more of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I thought this was supposed to be fun.
posted by Anisa @ 10:34 AM | 5 comments


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sommer!


Today is the 8th birthday of a very precious little girl: my sweet cousin Sommer! She is such a kind soul, a truly special presence in my life.

I remember the absolute joy that spread through our family when she was born. My aunt still remembers how everyone just started screaming with excitement. And she has brought joy ever since!

When she was one, I went to stay with my aunt and her family during Spring Break. I was Sommer's very first babysitter, and I remember reading Pat the Bunny to her. She was precious and I loved watching her "smell the flowers" and "pat the bunny." I also read Richard Scarry books to her and it was then and there that I coined what was to forever be her nickname from me: Huckles.


When I married Bert in 2004, she was a flower girl. And every visit I make to my Mississippi hometown includes plenty of time with her. From making stained glass to teaching her to play Yahtzee (and yes, she BEAT ME the first time she ever played!) to talking about Webkinz, I always have so much fun with her.

And so, on Sommer's birthday, I just wanted her to know how much Bert and I love her. Happy Birthday, sweet Sommer! May you have a wonderful day and a fabulous year!

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posted by Anisa @ 2:53 PM | 0 comments


Monday, January 12, 2009

A Love Letter


Dear iPhone,

I think I'm in love. We have only been together for a week tomorrow, but I can hardly fathom life without you ever again. You and I are inseparable. Because of you, I know that "Role Models" is showing six times a day at the dollar movie theater. I was able to wow my family at the Indian restaurant by whipping out the Songza application and identifying the crazy Indian jam playing. I always know when I have a new gMail message and am caught up with everyone's status updates via Facebook.

And while you tried to hold me back from downloading "Riviera Rendezvous" as my ringtone, we made up. Because I hacked you. And really, it wasn't your fault. No, no...it was your parents' fault. They tried to hold you back, but no longer.

You have made my life better. Bert remarked to me, "Ever since you got that iPhone, you have stopped nagging me. You don't tell me I've been at the gym too long or that I have eaten too much junk." iPhone, you have actually helped my marriage!

And don't even get me started on the Pandora application. MY FAVORITE, hands down. I listen to music all the freaking time now! Great music, wonderful music, new music. You have helped me enjoy work more because your speakers are better than my desktop speakers. I have a constant soundtrack, all because of you.

Oh, and because of you and your built-in GPS, navigation around Atlanta was much easier this weekend. We got turned around, but you were there for us. We immediately knew where to turn around. Thank you so very much for all you have given to our relationship.

You are so much more than a phone.

Love,
Anisa


posted by Anisa @ 12:57 PM | 4 comments


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Year in Review: 2008

Shamelessly stolen from Kendra...

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Graduated with my master's degree! It felt fabulous.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I usually have the same resolutions and usually kindof suck at them. My main one is always to lose 10 lbs. and I never do. Maybe this is the year!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin Anji had Sarim.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
It breaks my heart to have to say yes. My dear, sweet grandfather passed Dec. 3. I miss him every day.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just been in the good ol' U.S. of A. this year. I haven't been out of the country since 1987...hmm. Clearly, I need to do something about that. I have been in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida this year. Dang, I need to travel!

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A hot bod.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Election Day was amazing. And Dec. 3 was heartwrenching. I will always remember that I graduated Dec. 19. For better of for worse, those are the dates I will take with me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting the MPA

9. What was your biggest failure?
Working full-time and taking classes took its toll. I didn't do enough praying, exercising or spending time with friends. I am so hopeful this will change this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not that I can recall, lest a sinus infection here and there. Thank God.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I never thought I'd say this, but the 42" Sharp Aquos LCD TV and DVR. I thought it was SUCH a waste at the time, but now I'm a huge fan.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Hmmm. I would have to say my grandmother, Ammi, because her strength in her faith has helped us all keep it together.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I'll go with Dubya, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin and Amy Winehouse.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Savings. House payment. Bills. Ya know - the usual.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Graduating! After three years, it is a huge relief. I also get really excited about going to Whole Foods, new episodes of The Hills and the election of Barack Obama. That sentence is a little bit scary, I know. But yes, I love The Hills and now The City.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
"Vida la Vida" by Coldplay and also "Mad World" by Tears for Fears. Although the latter is old, I became obsessed with it this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I've had a really crappy today, so today I am sadder. :(
b) thinner or fatter? About the same.
c) richer or poorer? A tiny bit richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Spending time with friends, praying, exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Stressing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Driving to Mississippi, eating a glorious dinner and opening presents with the fam.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
I've been married 4 years now, so yep.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
The Hills, Hardball, Countdown with Keith Olbermann (Gawd, I watched a lot of MSNBC election coverage), Grey's Anatomy and House.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Yes. Sad to say, but yes. HOWEVER, I am moving more and more towards indifference. In fact, I think I'm almost there!

24. What was the best book you read?
"Eat, Pray, Love" - I mean, I LOVED this book. Fantastic.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Blinker the Star. Thanks, Sara! An on another note, the web site Songza. You can listen to ANY song - for free!

26. What did you want and get?
Again, for the 500th time, to graduate.

27. What did you want and not get?
For Abbu to be alive today. I wanted it SO badly.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
"The Dark Knight"


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
For my 28th, I went shopping at Lenox Square in Atlanta, followed by a fabulous dinner and then an R.E.M. concert.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Winning the lottery. :)

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Lots of flats, jeans and funky tops.

32. What kept you sane?
Chocolate and logging lots of phone hours with my mom.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hugh Laurie. I'm with MSKS on this one.


34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I just got really mad about the insanity surrounding the election. The blatant lies made up about President Elect Obama were disgusting.

35. Who did you miss?
Abbu.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I didn't meet a lot of new people this year, but I did become better friends with some that I already knew. I met some here and there, but those that have made the biggest impression are those that I already knew.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Nip it in the bud, as Barney Fife used to say. I learned that I needed to speak up early, rather than dealing with a big mess months later.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Instead of a song lyric, I will quote a verse from The Qur'an that I went to over and over this year for encouragement:

And behold, with hardship, there is relief!
Verily, with hardship there is relief!
Hence, when you are freed from distress, remain steadfast.
And unto your Sustainer turn with loving devotion.
(Qur'an: 94)

*edit: I heard "A Long December" yesterday by the Counting Crows, and if there are song lyrics that sum up 2008, these are definitely it:

And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
posted by Anisa @ 4:39 PM | 5 comments


Monday, January 05, 2009

Holiday Wrap-Up

Well, it's back to the grind today, but the holidays were indeed fabulous. We spent a week with Ariana in Mississippi. It was so good to be with family, but obviously it was sad as well. We got there Christmas night and opened presents:

Ariana definitely racked up. Her pile was totally out of control...as it should be. As for me, I got some great stuff too. I picked out clothes from Bert and got a lot of home/kitchen items from my parents. My sister and her husband got us some great stuff too...I love my new mantle tree. My old one was from the mid-1990s from the Dollar Tree. It was really sad. I also got more graduation gifts, which resulted in the purchase of an iPhone! I am obsessed. Love it.

Anyway, while in Starkville, we also visited Abbu's office. It was like he was just there. Dried coffee was at the bottom of a cup. I touched the last pen he used. I looked in his drawers and continued to find examples of his very special existence. I missed him. We all did. Below is Mama, sitting in his chair:


He and my mom are both aerospace engineers. Below is his writing, still on the markerboard in Mama's office. Something about it is so very dear to me:


I also had the chance to visit with friends. One afternoon, I had a long lunch with Katie and Lindsey. Nothing like old friends!


And, of course, there was family time. Below are a bunch of cousins with Ariana. I must digress here for a moment. Somehow, several kids in my family found out about this blog. A word to their parents: this blog is not geared towards children! There's your warning. :)


On to the next...it's always a treat to see our great couple friends, Wes and Jamie. Jamie and I devoured the annual Mississippi Magazine Wedding Register after dinner. She is hilarious.


And then, back to Georgia for New Year's Eve. Bert and I went to dinner with friends, out downtown and then to a friend's house. It was a great evening and a nice start to a new and fresh 2009.

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posted by Anisa @ 11:50 AM | 5 comments